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    Re: Why not GPS, was: Taffrail log and an alternative
    From: Aubrey O?Callaghan
    Date: 2002 Jun 22, 22:48 -0400

    I like your principles. This is one of the reasons we keep traditional
    navigation alive.
    Navigating as  through thick fog using nothing more than watch, compass and
    taffrail log. However, one more thing you will need is an anchor.The
    sailors of days gone by, and good seamanship makes a lot of sense  to
    anchor and not try to make a port in thick fog.
    At 20:13 22/06/02, you wrote:
    >Bernard Bishop wrote:
    >>My first post to this list --and maybe I'm missing the
    >>point --but what's wrong with using an inexpensive GPS
    >>for SOG and other purposes, if you are really concerned
    >>or to back up other nav methods.
    >I'm not sure whether you intended that question for me alone or the list
    >as a whole. If the latter, I expect you will get multiple and varied
    >Answering strictly for myself:
    >GPS is an excellent system and I use it routinely when working at sea --
    >as I have since 1987, when a GPS receiver cost $50,000 and only worked
    >for part of each day -- the satellite constellation being left
    >incomplete when the "Challenger" exploded and NASA found itself without
    >an adequate launch vehicle. When I have a job to do, I have no objection
    >to using the best tool available (and I'd apply that same standard if
    >the "job" was the winning of a race).
    >However, I don't go to sea in small sailing craft to do a specific job.
    >I'm not out there to get from A to B quickly and efficiently. When those
    >are my aims, I rely on airliners, rental cars and, if necessary, a
    >chartered power boat. Nor am I out there to take life easy and relax. I
    >can do that better by slinging a hammock between the trees in my back
    >garden and settling in with a bottle of fine wine. I'm not even
    >interested in formalized racing any more.
    >Rather, I sail for the satisfaction of practising a complex skill-set --
    >thereby combining my abilities with such elemental forces as wind and
    >tide in order to achieve something that the elements alone would have
    >denied. Getting to windward against a foul tide is immensely satisfying,
    >whether you are catching every zephyr on a light day or coping with the
    >challenges of gale-force gusts. It is even more so when your boat uses
    >such simple technology that you could, if needs be, rebuild and re-rig
    >her yourself from nothing more than timber, cordage and sailcloth. (OK:
    >I'd have to add metal fastenings and a number of simple fittings.) Then,
    >weathering some headland and making safe harbour is your own
    >achievement, not something you can purchase as a "turn-key" package from
    >the local boat shop.
    >I guess I could apply the same standard to my navigation and confine
    >myself to the sorts of local knowledge that Medieval pilots had. But
    >that would confine my sailing to waters I knew well and would lack much
    >intellectual challenge beyond memorizing. So I prefer to play at the
    >level of navigational techniques available in the early 20th century,
    >before electronics arrived. It just gives a point and a challenge that
    >is lacking when you have a GPS feeding your position into a digital
    >chart display, with a radar linked in and assorted alarms set to tell
    >you when you are going somewhere you shouldn't be.
    >Yes, those are great systems. Yes, they are very practical. Yes, they
    >improve safety (if you don't lose the skills to function should they
    >break down). Yes, I would use them if I was heading out with a job to
    >do. But they defeat most of my purpose in going out on recreational trips.
    >Some day, I want to find my way home through thick fog using nothing
    >more than watch, compass and taffrail log because I want to know that I
    >can face the ocean on those terms and match the skills of men who once
    >had to navigate that way for a living. I would hope to have a GPS on
    >board so that I could nasty accidents should I lose my reckoning. But if
    >I was to rely on that GPS, what would be the point of being out in a
    >cold, clammy fog? I might as well sit at this computer and play video
    >games -- or else charter a local fishing boat with a skipper who knows
    >all the Loran numbers for the harbour entrance. After all, why command
    >your own vessel if you are only going to pass most of the interesting
    >tasks to a box full of circuit boards?
    >Trevor Kenchington
    >Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus@iStar.ca
    >Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    >R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    >Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
    >                     Science Serving the Fisheries
    >                      http://home.istar.ca/~gadus

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