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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 11-18-2006
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The end of paper charts?

I have been reading an excellent book called The Complete book of Sailing by Bob Bond, David Pelly, Brian Grant, Jonathan Clark, and Adrian Morgan.
There is a section about all the new electronic navigation systems, and they say that some people are trying to completely replace paper charts with CD roms that you can view with a small computer like thing. Is it really true that there could eventually be no paper charts left? I have always thought that a sailing yacht wasn't a proper boat without the navigation table with parallel rules, dividers, and charts. The idea of all these electronic machines horrifies me. I hope that some of you agree with me.

Also, I read in Ocean Navigator that someone has invented a system for yachts that can tell you how to steer your course without using landmarks such as buoys.
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Old 11-18-2006
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It doesn't horrify me, but I would never think of going out without proper paper charts which don't need batteries and if they get fried by lightning then navigational issues will most likely be the least of my worries.
It is like navigating an airplane by GPS instead of sectionals - a heck of a lot easier to work with but not failsafe.
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Old 11-18-2006
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Although many have been digitized, real paper books and other periodic publications, will never be completely replaced by electronic editions. The same can be said of paper navigation charts.

I do reply upon my chart plotters, radar and GPS - but I will always plot all planned routes on paper charts, as a backup to electronic charts in case of equipment failure.
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Old 11-18-2006
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Some of the larger ships seem to be moving towards fully electronic navigation systems. While this may be feasible on a larger commercial ship, which has the power and the systems to reduce possible failure of the electronic systems—I think it will be a long time before small boat sailors should be doing this.
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Old 11-18-2006
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I think that the new GPS plotters are, for the most part, great but unnecessary toys for we coastal cruisers. Since what we mostly do is what is known as "conning", i.e. navigating mosty by sight through recognition of landmarks and navaids, the GPS with its maps are a convenience, with the additional information such as distance to go, time to destination etc. somewhat useful as well.

Even with the plotter on, I still prefer to refer to real charts, the picture is bigger, and I can view it from anywhere on the boat in most any conditions.

But, and there is a but, should you find yourself in heavy fog, then the GPS plotter can be a lifesaver. If you are fortunate enough to be able to combine that with radar, these conditions are much more manageable.

We use our GPS MAP76 all the time, I like the data it presents, but the charts are out too. On last year's trip out to the West Coast, we were well pleased to have the plotter and radar when we ran into fog, and safely navigated 90 plus miles in a day without seeing land (or traffic) till we arrived at the channel entrance.

Unfortunately we have begun to notice that there are people relying strictly on these new gadgets - forsaking real charts and tide books - and find that trend somewhat alarming. Usually newbies, it may be somewhat academic for them - if the batteries died it's unlikely they would be able to make good use of the charts even if they had them. This is another example of technology encouraging a lack of thorough preparation.
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Old 11-18-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster
I think that the new GPS plotters are, for the most part, great but unnecessary toys for we coastal cruisers. Since what we mostly do is what is known as "conning", i.e. navigating mosty by sight through recognition of landmarks and navaids, the GPS with its maps are a convenience, with the additional information such as distance to go, time to destination etc. somewhat useful as well.
I wouldn't call them playthings. After a full day going from point A to point B with the kids, I need my GPS to tell me my time to destination so I know when I'll be on the hook with a beer in hand!!!! Absolutely critical and irreplaceable. With paper charts I'd have to use my brain and figure out distance and speed and current, etc. to determine COG, SOG and when I'll be there!!!!
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I agree with Labatt, when I am on the chesapeak bay and going a long way I may not see much land for most of the day and the GPS sure makes it easy to hit the mark I am heading for. BUT the paper charts are never far away.

I also have a complete set of charts that I can acess if I want to look at courses at home .
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I agree with Faster that you don't usually need a GPS for coastal cruising, if you can use a compass and read a chart. But, when visibility is bad, such as at night or in fog, it can be indispensable. I'm colorblind, and can't distinguish between red and green lights, and, with a gps, night sailing is a snap. I tell it where I want to go, and it tells me what course to steer to get there. It also helps getting into a narrow channel. If you are familiar with your cruising grounds, you don't need one often, but when you need it, it's worth it's weight in gold. When you're sailing down a very long leg of a racecourse, a gps will keep you on course, so you don't travel any greater distance than necessary.
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there is talk about "changing the distribution media" for seacharts (and for that matters, aerial charts and similar stuff) to CD-Roms. likewise, the nautical almanac is suposed to get discontinued, though it will still be available as .pdf for free download.
the idea is actually just to save money on printing, not to extinkt paper charts.
the idea is that you buy a complete set of charts on CD, then print those you need out for yourself.
of course, there's electronic means to view the charts without printing them, like laptops and soon there will be dedicated gadgets.
i still wouldn't do without paper, exept perhaps for some early planning.
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Old 11-19-2006
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They want to stop printing the nautical almanac?!
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