Join Date: Jun 2007
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The "you do/don't need a knotmeter" argument comes up every time somebody asks "how do I install/repair/replace a knotmeter?" One-or-more people will inevitably claim "you don't need it, just use a GPS" and one-or-more others will inevitably counter with "but that gives you SOG, not STW, and GPS' aren't reliable, anyway."
The truth is you don't need a knotmeter. You also don't need a Windex, much-less an electronic wind direction and speed instrument. You don't really need a GPS, or even a depth meter--when it comes right down to it. The wind on your face, the feel of the helm, and the shape of the sails will tell you all you need to know about the performance of your boat. An understanding of navigation for the area and up-to-date charts are all you need for navigating. But all of these devices are handy, and can make performance-tuning and navigation easier and quicker.
So, stating unequivocally that one doesn't need a knotmeter, while correct, as far as it goes, also ignores the fact that they are useful devices. I always consult the knotmeter after making a trim change, no matter how minor. I can do without it. (And have, when it was fouled, we were only day-sailing, and I didn't care about performance enough to go to the trouble of clearing it. I've also done w/o a Windex, and it didn't kill us.) But I'd far prefer to have one.