A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Murray Buckman
Date: 2021 Sep 21, 08:40 -0700
Just my preference - but I would not.
My main reason is that I want a record of my work. At sea I have seen errors show up in earlier work (say - the previous sight within a 24 hour cycle) which were not obvious at the time but became obvious when subsequent work was done on the next sight - maybe a few hours later. Being able to go back and rework the earlier sight is helpful.
My second reason - no less important in my mind - my tables and logbooks still show salt stains and contain wrinkled pages from dousings with water over the years. I had one calculator destroyed by the equivalent of a bucket-load of salt water hitting me and the navigation table when a crew member chose the wrong time to open the main hatch during boisterous weather. I dried it our later but it never worked again. Wet paper and pencil is still legible.
It is amazing on a sailboat just how invasive water can be - even in benign conditions. I have had water dumped on the navigation table in relatively quiet weather from spinnakers being dragged in through the main hatch - they often hit the water during a drop and some of that finds its way below with the sail. And so on...
My third reason - what I do on land prepares me for what I do at sea. So it is rare for me to use a tool or a method on land ( except for an artificial horizon) that I do not intent to use at sea.
My fourth reason - I can't remember how many pencils I have "lost" from the navigation table when boat movement has been a little violent. Where I control the boat I have very fussy requirements regarding nav. table set-up, the wiring and position of critical electronics and so on - including a secure method of holding small tools while in use. But when sailing on someone else's boat, you take what you get. I always have a good supply of spare pencils - but I wonder how many spare stylus pens I would need. Of course the lost items always show up eventually, and often in unexpected places.
These days there are always plenty of GPS receivers on board, so celnav is more of a hobby. But old habits die hard.
My reasons obvioulsy do not apply to those who do not sail small boats offshore.