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    Re: DR navigation in the recreatiional fleet: was Role of CN at sea
    From: Carl Herzog
    Date: 2004 Oct 13, 12:28 -0400

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Jim Thompson" 
    >I know we discussed this some last year, but the issue remains unclear in
    > mind.  How should GPS navigation be taught to recreational boaters who
    > have
    > minimal or no traditional navigation training?
    The short answer to this is by appealing to their desire to have things be
    easy underway. It's a little sneaky, but it serves as sort of backdoor to
    teaching them traditional coastal piloting skills without using the
    laborious, traditional methods of teaching those skills.
    At the boat show last week, I taught a seminar on voyage planning in which I
    emphasize that the more work you do building a navigation plan ahead time
    the more enjoyable your time afloat will be. No recrational sailor wants to
    spend their leisure time sitting in front of a computer on the boat panicing
    over what might be in front of them. And, at the same time, you might as
    well spend those snowy February nights thinking about warm summer cruising
    So one of the things we spend a lot of time on is preparing charts. Whether
    they are using electronic charts or a chartplotter, I encourage them to mark
    up their charts with areas to avoid, danger bearings and natural ranges.
    Being able to sit in the cockpit, glance over your shoulder at a rangeline
    you've already established is a lot more pleasant that sweating over a GPS
    screen trying to decide whether you're going to clear those rocks up ahead.
    This begins the process of teaching them visual navigation.
    I also emphasize plotting out the distances between waypoints ahead of time
    as part of being able to schedule your voyage: If you need to get to the
    canal by high tide, and the canal is 25 miles away, how fast do you need to
    be going and when should you leave? These questions are the backdoor to
    introducing DR concepts.
    The other inducement to learning all this is the realization that they can
    get a lot more out of their electronics if they do understand some of these
    concepts. I've been stunned to discover how many recreational sailors doen't
    know how to use the majority of the features on their GPS -- routes,
    waypoints, x-track error. All these features are underpinned by traditional
    navigation techniques. We also work on identifying the weaknesses of GPS
    features. (If you're steering straight, but the "goto" for your next
    waypoint keeps changing, you're probably getting set -- possibly into a
    danger area.)
    I've done a lot of teaching on sail training ships, often with the general
    public as students, and I've also found that learning piloting techniques
    underway is a lot more enticing that sitting in a classroom figuring out
    time/speed/distance problems. Folks are far more engaged when they're
    learning by doing, and recreational sailors tend to embrace these skills as
    a form of entertainment underway -- just like practicing celestial offshore.
    We'll often hang a black cloth over the GPS and leave the students to figure
    it out the old-fashioned way. It becomes a game, and after a few hours,
    they're very eager to see how their results compare to the GPS.
    These and other similar approaches tend to work well with cruising sailors,
    but there is definitely also a class of recreational boater who will never
    bother. Those boaters  are the argument for recreational vessel operator
    Carl Herzog
    Providence, Rhode Island

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