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    From: Herbert Prinz
    Date: 2004 Oct 13, 18:01 -0400

    I gave my message deliberately this new subject, because I am tired of
    discussing GPS under a pretence such as "backup for celestial?". We
    don't need to pay lip service to some vaguely defined understanding that
    we can't mention the three letter word.
    As I understand it, this is a list for the history of navigation. When
    we discuss topics such as unreliability of GPS due to extended periods
    of bad coverage at sea because at one time there were not enough
    satellites up, then we are clearly discussing the history of navigation
    of the last century and nothing else.
    And when somebody one day writes a comparative study about "Black box
    navigation at Bowditch's time and today", I would like to see it
    discussed here on the list.
    The recent thread on GPS has largely turned into a discussion of dummies
    at sea, which has little to do with GPS. To pick just two examples.
    Consider, the boat running aground at Sable Island. I can't check the
    details now, but the way Dave presents it, it would have happened
    exactly the same way if the skipper would have navigated by celestial
    methods and set his wind vane self steering accordingly. His mistake was
    a navigational error that had nothing to do with GPS.
    Or take Royal Majesty. This wasn't  a "GPS assisted accident". It could
    have happened with LORAN or any other technology. It could
    (theoretically) have happened with celestial navigation, confusing an
    almanac based on Paris with one based on Greenwich. They would have made
    consistent progress until ending up in the rocks 2 deg 20' E of where
    they thought they were. Their real mistake apparently was that they saw
    a marker and ignored it.
    Where the recreational boaters are concerned, there is a notion that GPS
    makes it easier for the dummies to go out. That is probably so, but this
    is also true for any navigational aid. However, there are those on whom
    all efforts are lost. One day I was sailing in the middle of Long Island
    Sound. A motor boat approached to speak me. The skipper wanted to know
    which way Long Island was. Thank God these people exist. What else would
    we talk about in the bar? But let us not confuse a discussion of a
    particular technology with a discussion of seamanship.
    Herbert Prinz

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