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Old 10-01-2006
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Celestial Navigation

Methinks I've pricked a boil here somehow. There are certainly differences in philosophy of what constitutes responsible navigation procedures. The US Navy is entitled to theirs. They've made mistakes before and will again. The landing ay Inchon was delayed three months because somebody decided they didn't need all those wooden hulled mine sweepers from WW II. That's the navy. You say government, I think post office. Because I hand my shipmate a GPS doesn't make him a navigator. And, every ocean going vessel out there now has a GPS. It's too fast, accurate, reliable, cost effective, and relatively trouble free to otherwise. Radar was the same. The average non naval vessel does not have the government behind it to fly out spare parts. When a generator spike frys all your electronic gear the mate on watch has his chart with his fixes plotted. He doesn't lose his set/drift data, it's right there on the chart table. If computers, of all ilks, are so wonderful (and they are) why does everyone request a hard copy of any important information that they do not wish to lose? Sure, we use GPS but we've got a sextant and a chronometer standing by. Coast Guard board of inquiries take a dim view of groundings based on a lack of navigational ability. Every ship still slides down the ways with a sextant and two chronometers on it. Lloyd's and any other marine insurance firm won't have it any other way. Back in the seventies, it was accepted naval warfare planning that, in the event of war with the USSR, the first thing that would be done is the shut down of the Transit system(NNSS-navy navigational sat. system) and that ships would run with no electronic emissions as well. No radar, radio, etc... Now if that wack job in N. Korea decides to launch a better missile, and we figure he's using GPS to guide it, how long do you think befere the plug gets pulled? Now, getting back to Argos original question I think that, contemplating an ocean crossing he has an entirely reasonable approach. It's simple, reliable, and doesn"t cost that much when you consider the components are good for more than a lifetime of use. If you would rather use redundancy of GPS receivers (and a good lead line) that's fine. Me, I can't keep a cellphone for more than two years without it getting wet or damaged somehow. I've crossed alot of oceans, and in my opinion, the test of any piece of equipment is it's reliability and what are we going to do if it fails. And to be honest, in a forum such as this, I suspect there are alot more people relying on a $100 widget to get them back home than what I'd wish. And real ocean navigators do pull the old hambone out from time to time just to keep from getting rusty, if not for the joy they get out of seeing that beautiful pinwheel on their chart. And why would anyone cross an ocean in a sailboat anyway, when there are alot more reliable, modern, mechanical, and electronicly equipped ways of doing so? But, fair winds and following seas to sir. "Curmudgeon"
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