I am also among the old codgers that grew up with dead reckoning. We used to sail from south Florida to the Bahamas with a table that we would make showing the different courses to steer as our speed changed with conditions. We'd usually sail at 120 degrees to make good 90 degrees to West End from Lake Worth at five knots. If we increased speed we could make 110 degrees. Of course, our actual course only used the average vector of the Gulfstream so we layed a sigmoid curve that GPS removes. Our back-up was a handheld RDF that would pick up mostly airport morse code signals at any bearing except pointed directly to or 180 degrees from the station. Others have asked about the steering errors without an autopilot, but the port or starboard errors tend to cancel out each other over time. Our accuracy was always more at risk heading to the small islands while the return to Florida was hard to miss. Some, though , did make big errors. I remember coming into Port Canaveral just behind another whose captain thought he was at West Palm,......big mistake! If he had been eastbound he would have missed everything! Take care and joy, Aythya crew
A few weeks back I was looking for a radio direction finder (used to be pretty common on boats), could not find a new one. Guess I gotta try ebay.