I hope I do not come across as mean-spirited or full of myself, but, when electronics die from a lightning strike, when the GPS fails because of solar activity or an outage (and there are planned outages that can last for a long time) do you know how to transfer what those tools do to your paper charts? I don't mean just "referring" to the charts. Can you take a fix to get your position so that you can accurately provide your location if you have a mayday situation? Plot a DR course on the paper chart and run it? If you can, than I misunderstood your use of the word "refer" and I apologize.
I agree that electronic chart plotters are easy to use, they're fun, they give you all the information you need quickly, they won't fly overboard in a breeze, etc. They also fail.To me common sense means knowing how to seamlessly use a paper chart and plotting tools to give you the exact same information that your electronic chartplotter can give you. I respectfully disagree that advocating knowing how to use a paper chart is anything other than responsible boating.
Re: para 1. I probably could get pretty close in a pinch, but I am in no way proficient. But as I said, I am a brand new sailor, and all of my journeys - other than bringing the boat home after purchase - are within 20 miles of home (Toronto). I know this side of Lake Ontario quite well.
In my above post I am in no way suggesting that I am any kind of expert. nor did I advocate the abandonment of a paper chart navigation system. I think that for anything other than the very local cruising that I do, you probably want to be proficient with old school navigation skills, even if you never have to use them. I am sure that I will do more navigation studying before I do more adventuresome cruising, but for now, my skill level suffices.
All this having been said, I stand by my statement that some of the early posters in the thread were pretty full of themselves. But I should not be at all surprised, as that's common to the forums I follow for diving, aviation, motorcycles, and whatever else.
The main point of my post was actually about the iPad, which is brilliant as a plotter, easy to use, and CHEEP compared to the schmansy ones from the boat store.