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    Re: American navigation.
    From: Joe Schultz
    Date: 2009 Nov 5, 03:03 -0800

    Here's a more modern American Navigation story:
    
    My grandfather worked as the oldest hand on ocean going tug-and-barge between 
    Seattle and Alaska in the 1950s-1970s timeframe, ranging as far as the Nome 
    area.  This in the "off" seasons.  Was a carpenter and commercial fisherman 
    in Alaska in the "on" seasons.  Didn't quite finish the 6th grade, and 
    reading the newspaper entailed handing it to my grandmother and pointing to a 
    picture that interested him.  Grandmother would then read the story to him.  
    This level of literacy was quite common in his generation.
    
    But, thanks to the practical math training his immigrant father-in-law gave 
    him, he worked his way up to second mate and navigator on that tug.  He could 
    swing ship and build a compass deviation card, he could work a radio 
    direction finder and the bearing difference tables, he could work a Loran 
    chain, and he could work a tide book (he marked the stations with stars, 
    circles, squares, etc.).  Grandmother was the cook in a few of those seasons, 
    and she had better sea stories.  They once stood off for 30 days, waiting out 
    a pea soup so they could make the delivery - no radar.
    
    And another: an uncle was a Puget Sound commercial fisherman until his death 
    in the 1970s.  Couldn't afford to buy a boat so he built one, with a car 
    engine for a motor.  His navigation tools: compass and portable LW-AM-SW 
    radio - couldn't afford a real radio direction finder.  Or updated charts for 
    that matter, so he drew pictures in a spiral notebook.  I remember seeing one 
    chart in that boat.  He did feed a wife and five kids.
    
    These men didn't attend a navigation school - they just figured out how to get 
    the job done.  And they weren't unusual, at least until the instant 
    gratification era.
    
    The Gibralter story may not be absolutely true, but I do believe the surprise 
    of the official over American "can do" attitudes.  The ship captain's story 
    may have been along the lines of "you wouldn't believe how I suckered him 
    into free charts!"
     
    Joe
    
    
    
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