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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > 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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  #11  
Old 06-13-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

I am not sure but I think that EscapeArtist was the fellow who was an "Escape" (which is a rotomolded daysailor) enthusiastic. I am not sure of this but there was a fellow on this BB in the early days who spent a lot of time talking about the merits of these boats and did some kind of long distance passage in one to demonstrate its sailing ability. This may not be that guy but he had a nom ''d net that was something like EscapeArtist.

As you note he hasn''t been around much lately.
Jeff
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  #12  
Old 06-13-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

Do commercial vessels (ocean going tugs, bulk carriers, container ships, cruise ships, research vessels, tankers, etc, etc.) carry sextants?

How likely are the doomsday scenarios which would disable the satellite network (please, no paranoid conspiracy theories)?

Are there any accounts of sailboats meeting their end soley because of a GPS failure?

Are sailors the only ones still using sextants, as part of some "old school" perception?

Has the sextant been relegated to a hobby?

I''m confused......

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Old 06-13-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

To the best of my recollection, ALL U.S. Navy ships must have qualified navigators and they must be well versed in the use of sextants, among other navigational aides. The U.S. Merchant Marine vessels are likewise required the Capt. and the first officer to be certified navigators.

The degredation of non-military GPS signals is not as uncommon as you might think, especially since 9/11. Every time a rocket launch (friendly or otherwise) is detected, a decision about the GPS signals is made. Also, there are places on the Globe that do not get good satelite coverage, at least not 24/7.

Sole reliance on electronic aides is just too huge a risk to take with Murphy considering the potential consequences. Besides, using a sextant is not that hard. All it takes (like sailing) is practice. ;^)

~ Happy sails to you ~
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Old 06-14-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

To say that CN is expensive and difficult to learn is ridiculous! I bought a decent plastic sextant and learned it while doing a delivery from the V.I. to Florida years ago.

Granted, my triangulated fix was a lot bigger than the one created by the guy teaching me, I was close enough to the actual position to have spotted an island if that was what I was looking for.

If you can follow “cookbook method” directions, can add and subtract numbers, you can do CN.

Is it a waste of time and money?? I guess if you go through life never having had to actually need it, and rely on the electronics and satellites to tell you where you are, yea, it could be useless. Health insurance is worthless if you never need it. Same with fire, flood and earthquake, and even car insurance, I guess.

Mary Blewitt wrote a wonderful little ‘how to’ book on CN. I highly recommend it.


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Old 06-14-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!


I may be misremembering, but either last year, or the year before, there was a mandate issued that allowed the U.S. Navy to discontinue teaching of CN. A few weeks after that, readings of satellites were disrupted for some reason or another, thus prompting the questioning of the idea. Think I read about it in both the local newspaper and in Time, or something.

So, it isn''t just a total electronic blackout that may precipitate the need for those who have experience in CN.

Fair Winds,
Mary
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Old 06-15-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

This whole discussion about CN seems to suggest that there are some who think at least one of the following is the case.
1) the equipment is delicate and expensive,
2) the math is too difficult,
3) the tables are dificult to follow, or
3) it takes too much time to do CN.

Considering how some folks are becoming more insistent on getting "instant gratification", is it any wonder that CN is being viewed by some as an archaic way of determining one''s location? From a navigator''s point of view, what could be better than turning on handheld GPS, and within a matter of seconds, knowing where you are, within two meters?

I''m by no means an ole'' salt, but even I know that electronic equipment and saltwater don''t mix. There are just too many things that can go wrong, even with multiple GPS units and/or a box-full of fresh batteries.

Getting back to the original set of reasons why not to use CN, I was able to get a rather good (Russian Navy unit) sextant for far less than a handheld GPS. The sextant is rather sturdy, but of course, reasonable care should be used with all optical equipment. I know how to add, subtract, multiply and devide, so I have all the math skills needed to do CN. I have all the books needed, and the only one that must be updated is the Almanac. Even with the cost of the books, the amount of money spent to be able to do CN is still less than the cost of a decent handheld GPS, not including any software add-ons. With regard to the time it takes to do CN, a noon fix may take 10 minutes, 30 minutes tops. When you''re out in the middle of the ocean, what other pressing activities are there that keep you from taking 30 minutes to get a CN fix?

~ Happy sails to you ~
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Old 06-16-2002
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windship has a little shameless behaviour in the past
Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

...And if it were overcast for days... could it be.... that...the GPS would now be a back-up for the CN?

Dennis
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Old 06-16-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

Isn''t that where Dead Reckoning comes into play.....
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Old 06-19-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!

My wife and I are only coastal cruiser types and I feel CN is necessary for any sea voyage. One would be remiss without an experienced CN certified crewmember. That is an issue of safety, of which there can be no shortage.
Coastal cruisers should be able to plot their location from landmarks, give an approximate fix on their location, just using a compass and chart. For someone in this catagory CN can be a hobby but not necesaarily a need to know.
It accually depends on the person. Some learn for personal or professional reasons. Some don''t beacause they''ll never use it and some just don''t care.
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Old 06-20-2002
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Celestial Navigation? Forget it!


Windship,

I have delivered from the States to the BVI (one of many, many trips) as a sister ship to one that was captained by a man who had been on the water since before he could walk, grew up on the Thames. He carried only a sextant. During a spat of "bad" weather - it was overcast for a few days - we were still in VHF communication with him. His crew had no confidence, and became insolent and abusive, not to mention totally whiny (these were grown men, with boats of their own, mind you). When we hailed him, he spoke of wanting to be off the ''ship of fools'', and quickly. I even heard a few times the crew being abusive to him in the background. We had a sextant, but we also had a handheld GPS that I doubt many would recognize - an old Magellan that weighed 7 pounds and was big as a bag of sugar. Anyway, 10 days out we were no longer able to contact them. Since we were in bad weather, we gave a description to passing ships, just in case. On arrival, we went immediately to the base and asked them for information, etc.. The guy behind the desk pointed over our shoulders and said, "He''s right there." The SOB had arrived 2 days before us, and he had listed us in the lookout traffic. His crew was gone, having flown home, and I''m glad I never got to confront them and call them the cowards they had shown themselves to be (because I would surely have been arrested). A few years later one guy had the nerve to ask to go on another trip as crew, and was told that under no uncertain terms would he ever sail with the company again.

Just a story, but maybe one that applies.

MaryBeth
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