A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Mark Coady
Date: 2019 Nov 24, 13:33 -0800
Fascinating article on the GPS issues in China.
As for the NOAA, It isn’t really the death of paper… as there will be the ability to print out copies of electronic files...
My concern would be lower availability at greater distances from civilization with limited plotting. I guess it’s the law of supply and demand. Won’t argue if people just aren’t using them anymore. I have failed so far to fight progress. I’m an older guy now, and I like my older things.
I will still carry charts. Always have, always will. I am one of a generation that considered piloting an art. You plotted and maintained your position and course and used tools other than electronics to prove your dead reckoning and obtain an estimated position or a fix. If the then newfangled electronics went amuck, you always knew pretty much where you were.
I’m not a ship guy, I drive smaller fry, but total electronic dependence in piloting waters is a bit scary. If somebody jams you up, spoofs you,or just plain murphy's law takes over your dash, reaction times will be limited. This will require alertness and training.
Total belief in the infallible electronics is so easy…hence a danger. We become complacent thinking it must be right...if it is 99.99 %..its always right.. I recall an old Star Trek episode from the 1960’s about a simple culture enslaved by a machine.
I have lost electronics in times past in terrible weather, and shrugged it off and drove in on radar & sounder while maintaining my DR/EP/FIX track on my chart. Celestial doesn’t help very much in close piloting waters. Especially in a howling dark wind and rain. Piloting skills are their own art. Though the sextant is a super handy tool for piloting in good vis.
I wonder about updates. We used to check notices to mariners received weekly and mark them up. Will we be constantly updating our electronics weekly at sea? So we know the buoys were ripped off station by river ice or the lighthouse fog signal has an improper characteristic?
I am called to step on other vessels and run them. I took out a large Sportfisher for someone just recently to chase fish, filling in for a dear friend and Captain who had passed. I pocketed one of my old paper charts. Not every vessel has great electronics. Not everyone has a great backup. Yes I know phone GPS’s work and they have ridiculous levels of reliability. I still like a full size chart and the ability to interpret contours, bottom information, impact on wave height, etc….
Paper was a great training tool. Paper is a dose of real world in a world of screens. Call me old and old fashioned, but those skills made me a better skipper when things didn’t look right, or something failed.
I constantly find in my engineering work today I have younger folks can drive video screens and programs, but can’t do field work that survives the reality check.
With electronic attacks and meddling on the increase, a good old plotting table still has a beauty to me.
Grumpy old fart