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    Re: Role of CN at sea, was Re: Averaging sights ...
    From: Carl Herzog
    Date: 2004 Oct 12, 14:33 -0400

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Jim Thompson" 
    > In the last 5 years I have never met anyone in person who has actually
    > navigated by relying on CN. although I have talked with acquaintenances
    > who
    > tried a few sights on ocean passages in recreational boats.  They found it
    > difficult to set up for sight-taking when other chores or rest times took
    > priority.  A Coast Guard cadet at the College in Sydney learned CN from
    > Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons before joining the Coast Guard, but says
    > he
    > is pretty rusty now. Most recreational boaters simply do not have the time
    > it takes to learn CN, even if they are strongly motivated to do so.
    I spent the last week at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, USA.
    I spoke with hundreds of recreational sailors, ranging from beginning
    cruisers to offshore veterans. A few people exressed dismay at the decline
    of celestial navigation, but they too admitted that they had not relied on
    celestial as a means of navigation in decades, if ever.
    As the editor of Reed's Nautical Almanacs for North America and the
    Caribbean, I was forced this year to make the decision to stop publishing
    celestial data. In 2000, we eliminated the tables from our books, but
    continued to offer them as a free separate volume to any Reed's reader who
    asked for one. Of the tens of thousands of books we sell from Alaska to
    Trinidad to Nova Scotia, our request for ephemerides slipped to about 150
    this year. How many of those folks were actually using them is a figure I
    could only guess at.
    While our publications primarily serve recreational sailors and smaller
    commercial workboat operators, I would estimate that the practice of
    celestial nav among the world's ocean-going merchant fleets is now also
    As you've indicated, the only people using a sextant these days are doing so
    as a hobby, and it would seem that many of those hobbyists are shooting from
    locations ashore -- an activity whose entertainment value escapes me.
    I expect that the practice of celestial navigation at sea will increasingly
    be constrained to sail training vessels. Like learning square-rig
    seamanship, celestial's math requirements and the discipline of the day's
    work will continue to offer young people valuable lessons that go beyond
    practical results.
    Carl Herzog
    Providence, Rhode Island

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