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    Re: Celestial Calculator Comparisons
    From: Richard B. Emerson
    Date: 2000 Mar 10, 10:16 AM

    Joe Shields writes:
     > As a landlocked armchair navigator who dreams of one day moving beyond my
     > little 1 nm wide (at its widest part) man-made lake and out into blue water
     > where I could do celestial nav. for real, I may be naive, but I am confused
     > by all this concern over celestial calculators.  Wouldn't regular use of an
     > 'electronic' celestial calculator defeat the whole purpose of celestial
     > navigation -- a reliable alternative/backup to 'electronics'.  Doing sight
     > reduction by hand (in both my opinion and the opinion of the ASA Instructor
     > who certified me) is a volatile skill that needs to be practiced regularly
     > to be reliable.  What you don't use, you lose... which could be everything
     > from your copy of HO 249 (or whatever) to doing accurate mental arithmetic.
     > Is my thinking wrong that the best discipline is that my daily navigation
     > would consist of doing traditional 'non-electronic' celestial/coastal/DR
     > navigation to arrive at my position and then check it against the GPS.  With
     > everything in close agreement, my comfort-level would be such that any
     > 'electronic' outage would not give rise to panic or drastically alter my
     > navigational routine.
     > Or is it more realistic that you are busier than a one-armed paperhanger,
     > and you need all the shortcuts you can get.
     > -- Joe Shields (lat:40 34, long:80 04)
    You've asked a reasonable question.  There are some folks who avoid
    motors and electronics as much as possible (perhaps the best known of
    this group are Lin and Larry Pardey of Taliesin and Serrafyn fame -
    although, as Larry readily says, if they're delivering a boat "with
    all the toys", they use them).  The idea is to keep things simple to
    reduce cost and aggravation.
    There are people who load their boats with every known toy in the
    catalogs.  Maybe they pay for it and spend a lot of time in port
    getting things worked on, but that's what fits their needs.
    And some folks are in between.  I count myself in that group.  We have
    GPS, radar, and a laptop as well as tables, a stopwatch, and paper
    I don't think celestial navigation skills are any different from any
    other skills.  Use them and they're fresh, don't use them and you get
    rusty.  No surprise there.  However, the object of the exercise is not
    to spend a lot of time shooting and reducing, it's to get the boat
    down the (metaphorical) road and hopefully enjoy the trip.  Some days
    there's all the time in the world and some days things are turning to
    stink, the honey just ran down your sleeve, and there's three inches
    of salt water in the cabin.  On those days I'll take my calculator out
    of its bag, do the work I have to do, and do my manual reductions on
    the nice days when the boat's dry, the sun's shining, and the sails
    are drawing nicely.
    Even on nice days, having perhaps 6-8 shots to reduce and compare to
    be *really* sure you got it right becomes a far less burdensome chore
    when a few keystrokes and a few minutes will show which sights are
    clearly off and which aren't.  The same process can be applied
    manually, of course, but boats are like small children: don't keep an
    eye on them every minute and they'll find some mischief to get into.
    Look in the books or check the rigging.  Your call.  [grin]
    S/V One With The Wind, Baba 35

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