Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Cel Nav!
    From: Robert Gainer
    Date: 2004 Jul 27, 17:48 +0000

    That sounds like an excellent book and I will have to see if I can find a
    copy in my neighborhood.
    I don�t know about other people�s experience but the height of eye on a
    small boat has always been a problem for me. If I get too high the motion of
    the boat is too much for me and if I get too low it�s difficult to keep the
    horizon in sight between the crests of the waves. It has been my experience
    that even on a calm day the swells offshore can be high enough so that if
    the mist or fog brings the edges of your world to within, lets say 2,500
    feet then the horizon that you see may be the top of the swell or just the
    face of the swell but only part way up. If you have any waves at all on top
    of the swell the horizon is just unusable in fog. Of course this horizon
    that I think is false might be the �true� horizon and I just don�t recognize
    it as such. Because I am self-taught and until this group have not
    interacted much with other navigators I don�t always recognize what�s
    possible or practical.
    Although there is no opportunity to grab a shot, if you want to really go
    crazy finding the horizon, try sailing in a light snowfall. Your world is on
    a tilt and there is an illusion that you are always turning because of this.
    You can�t see very far, so the end of your world is only a few yards away.
    The snow will fall at an angle, the boat is at a different angle and you are
    standing at a third angle (you hope vertical). The waves will come by from
    yet another angle. You lose all sense of direction and cannot tell what�s
    vertical. If the wind is light enough the sails will hold a shape from the
    snow that is on them and if you glance away from the compass you will steer
    the boat in a circle. When you tack, the snow that is coating the mainsail
    falls off when the boat is upright and for some strange reason you are
    almost always standing under the sail when the snow drops off. By the way if
    you do sail in the snow it helps if you enjoy tea. At the end of the day I
    make a pot of hot water for tea and pour the leftovers on the cleats for the
    halyards to thaw the halyards out and get the sails down.
    I can�t recall a situation where I could shoot under the mist. I do recall
    several occasions where I could get above the fog. The one incident that
    stands out is a trip up the Elba River in Germany on a commercial ship.
    Early in the morning there was a very heavy fog on the river and I could not
    see anything of the shore at all from the main deck. I went up to the bridge
    and was astounded to see that the tops of the buildings along the rivers
    edge were above the fog and the ends of the ship were all but invisible from
    the bridge. As we went up the river it was as if we were flying just above
    the surface and the building were sitting on the tops of clouds. It was one
    of the most beautiful illusions I have ever seen.
    All the best,
    Robert Gainer
    >From: George Huxtable 
    >Reply-To: Navigation Mailing List 
    >Subject: Re: Cel Nav!
    >Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004 09:52:04 +0100
    >This is a note, mainly to say how much I enjoyed Robert Gainer's piece  of
    >18 July, under threadname "Cel Nav!", which he dismissed as "just some
    >ramblings about sailing". If he has more such ramblings, I, for one, would
    >be really interested in reading them.
    >I thought the account of his rescue by "Hagen" showed a remarkable feat of
    >seamanship by both parties: in meeting-up on the basis of astro
    >observations, and then in the haulout, of both Robert himself AND his
    >His story about mistaking the Moon, rising out of the mist, for a
    >searchlight, rang true to me. After a long period without sleep, I have
    >made exactly the same mistake, and like Robert, felt a complete fool about
    >it afterwards. On another occasion, panic ensued from what seemed to be a
    >rapidly approaching masthead light on a misty night, which turned out to be
    >an aircraft's landing-light, as it made its approach to Jersey airport.
    >Some, like me, get sufficient kicks out of sailing a small boat in
    >continental-shelf waters to feel the need to go ocean cruising: but that
    >doesn't diminish our respect for those, like Robert Gainer, that do.
    >Just one aspect of his contribution had me puzzled, in which he said-
    >" The mist on the Grand Banks meant that with my height of eye there was a
    >amount of time that no horizon was available to me. In fact on that boat my
    >height (6 feet) of eye was so low that any kind of weather made it hard to
    >get a shot."
    >To me, those are circumstances (perhaps the only circumstances) in which
    >the small-boat navigator has a positive ADVANTAGE over his counterpart in a
    >big ship. I don't think I could put the matter better than Squire Lecky
    >does, in his "Wrinkles", in which he says-
    >Every seaman knows that by going aloft in clear weather his range od view
    >is extended, and that on account of the Earth's curvature the visible
    >horizon recedes from him the higher he goes. In like manner, by descendinf
    >downwards towards the surface of the water, his range of view is lessened,
    >and the horizon approaches him. Advantage can be taken of this to get
    >observations in foggy weather. By sitting in the bottom of a small boat in
    >smooth water, or on the lowest step of the accommodation ladder, the eye
    >will be about two feet above the sea level, at which height the horizon is
    >little more than a mile and a quarter distant, so that unless the fog is
    >very dense, serviceable observations are quite possible.
    >The writer, on three different occasions, when at anchor off the River
    >Plate, during fog, has been enabled to ascertain the ship's position in the
    >way described, and after verifying it by the lead, has proceeded up to Mone
    >Video without seeing land..."
    >He goes on to summarise-
    >"In fine clear weather, take your observations from the highest convenient
    >place, say the bridge...
    >...In thick or misty weather take your observations from as low a point as
    >possible, and in all cases apply the correction for height of the eye
    >corresponding to what it is known to be  at the spot where the observaton
    >was taken..."
    >It seems to me that the circumstances Lecky refers to are precisely the
    >same as those that Robert Gainer was referring to on the Grand Banks. In
    >which case, any difficulties he was experiencing  in seeing a horizon from
    >his low height-of-eye would have been far worse to a navigator on a larger
    >vessel, observing from higher up. I wonder if he has any comments about
    >I do recommend Lecky's "Wrinkles in Practical Navigation" (my edition being
    >1920, but the first was 1881) as being full of commonsense and real
    >homespun wisdom, well written. making for easy reading. He covers well the
    >overlap period between sail and steam.
    >contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    >01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    >Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    Don�t just search. Find. Check out the new MSN Search!

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site