Once known as Hartley18
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thanked 65 Times in 65 Posts
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Re: Circumnavigation without instruments
That's true. I cross the straights of Fla. and then the Yucatan Channel all the time under sail. The currents are on the paper chart and I make a vector, calculate the set and drift, average my steering course based on compass swing. The trick is to do it often, twice an hour when you are really in the throws of the strongest currents and running down a big sea. I DR and look at a hand held GPS a couple of times a day to see how close I am to correct. Never been more than a few miles off which is close enough to get with in sight of land, at which point you are piloting by points of land, LOPS off of land marks etc.
FWIW, it is simply very unsafe (and might even be considered extremely stupid!) to approach the southern coastline of Australia without an accurate fix and using DR only... at any time in history, including now.
IMO, if you must do it because you have no other alternative about the only way to approach is the way this guy did, but even then, given that you're entering what is effectively a big bay on a lee shore it's a pretty risky business, because as soon as you fix your position (and there are no landmarks to do that with) you need to turn around and get the hell outa there ASAP - and, congratulations, you just added hundreds of miles to your course.
The alternative is to stand on and hope for the best.. but very few who have tried this survived. They don't call this the "Shipwreck Coast" for nothing.
This is what it looks like at low tide on a nice day:
"Honestly, I don't know why seamen persist in getting wrecked in some of the outlandish places they do, when they can do it in a nice place like Fiji." -- John Caldwell, "Desperate Voyage"
Last edited by Classic30; 02-28-2013 at 08:03 PM.