A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Jim Rives
Date: 2021 Feb 22, 10:45 -0800
I had not heard of the 100 problems book... I will definitely look that up.
Last fall I read a book by Robert D. Hicks.. A Voyage to Jamestown, which describes the routing decisions made by the captain/navigator, the tools he had available, and some idea of the uncertainty he was facing throughout the voyage. I used to sail on the coast of Maine and have a very healthy respect for piloting... and the pure terror navigating in reduced visibility situations on a dangerous coast. I wonder how many lives were lost in the first few centuries by simply plowing into a rocky coast unaware that they were near danger. Until longitude could be determined it was all DR, latitude sailing, and a prayer they live to tell the tale! So, I had envisioned something like flight sim which would include the ocean currents and conditions similar to the real-time weather that's available. And data for any celestial observations made with tools available would be provided only to the accuracy those instruments permitted. When I re-discovered the sextant a few years ago I became kind of obsessed with "accuracy".. how close to a known position could I come. But, the sim could make the case that a sub-par observation taken at exactly the right time could be a huge relief... as Moitessier noted as he grabed a sun (or star) between the clouds as he approached Cape Horn in the first Golden Globe race.
I also have taken to flying flight sim from seaward of a land mass at an altitude of about 50 feet (at 1,040 kts!) and it is fascinating to see what the land looks like from that altitude...and then shoot up and see the familiar map of your location revealed. But from sea-level, a coast line might hide important details.. Penobscot Bay in Maine is filled with dangerous (but beautiful) rocky islands, but to the uninitiated they all look clumped together as a solid coastline. You can also see the first bits of distant mountain peaks in the sim (Carribean is good for that) which would help provide locational reassurance. Was just reading Parkman about de la Salle's attempt to find the mouth of the Mississippi along the flat, flat, flat southern coastline.. he finally turned around at the Rio Grande and actually never did rediscover it. Piloting is a whole other important skill.
But, you are right. Such a program would entail a huge effort for a miniscule audience. And, ultimately, no simulator can actually put you "on the spot", where you actually become aware of existential fear building as you think you approach a coast and haven't seen the sun in a week. I think the 100 problems will do just fine. Thanks for the suggestion!