All of my sailing since 1985 has been with the use of charts, compass and depth meter. I remember back in the day (my day) when the boats we rented from the Navy gave a new meaning to "bare boat". Bring your own compass, charts and tide book. I took about 15 years off from sailing, and did the motor boat fishing thing, and had a Garmin fish finder/ GPS map gizmo. Really cool. Installed some of those big monster, high dollar NAV stations in the bigger fishing boats also. (Used to be a marine mechanic/rigger). About to (hopefully) get a 31 footer and it's got your standard compliment of non-electronic NAV instruments aboard. Is this something that has become essential? The wife is giving me that look of "this keeps getting worse and worse". Know what I mean?
I can't decide for you
GPS and plotter are not essential for me but I feel it is a practical tool when I do piloting in unknown waters.
Your "old" navigation skills are not
obsolete, but it has never been wrong to combine new tools & techniques with existing/old knowledge and tools.
The vikings did not have chronometers, sextants and binoculars, but was still able to navigate.
There must have been some opposition against new technologies in the evolution of navigation.
Lead line is better than a depth finder? (You get better data on bottom conditions)
We don't need a chronometer/sextant to give us a longitude - it's expensive and inaccurate, looking for birds is a better solution
The GPS system have replaced RDF's, Decca and Loran C. (By GPS I'm talking about the positioning system alone, which can give is a position that often
I treat the GPS position as a form of EP (Estimated position), EP is far better than a GP (guessed position).
When this position is plotted on my plotter (or paper chart) it's easier to locate (bearing and distance) "real world" stuff that can help with my piloting (NAVAIDS/ATON's/ATN).
Having a plotter by the helm is better than having a paper chart at the helm (Water and wind) and a chart/plotter at the nav station is just useless for me (short/single handed crew).
To me a chart plotter is a device I can use to:
-View charts (with automatic change of map)
-Plot a continuous EP from the GPS
-Measure bearing and distance
Just a small note on GPS pos=EP ws Piloting
Had a nice sail this evening - plotter zoomed at level where I had an good overview of the area around the boat with all the NAVAIDS showing.
Just at the moment we passed a green buoy on our port side I happened to glance at the plotter and noticed that the GPS position was on the opposite side of the buoy - this is my home waters so I know that the GPS was wrong.
I have seen this at some occasions but I'm certain that that is nothing wrong with the GPS or the placement of the aerial (nobody can cover the aerial to disturb signals).