We start this book by looking at the most important aspect of good and safe navigation. More important than fancy electronics. More important than paper charts. More important than radar. Situation awareness—knowing where you are at all times.
Navigation and Marine Electronics
There are endless posts and comments on the internet about the latest cool electronic gadgets to help us navigate. But will acquiring all this expensive stuff make you a navigator who is competent and safe to go voyaging?
No, not unless you also grasp the fundamentals of understanding where you are. In this Online Book, Colin, Phyllis and John share the fruits of a combined century of navigation, much of it before electronic gadgets, and then relate that experience to modern electronic navigation.
Table of Contents:
Although we are not Luddites bemoaning the take over of electronics and warning of the dire consequence of over reliance on them, we are aware of several dangers in their exclusive use:
Here’s one simple tip that can save you a huge amount of grief…and possibly your boat:
What if your plotter dies, or the datum is way out on the chart against the GPS, or you are navigating an intricate passage? These are just a few situations when an accurate compass is vital.
The dangers of interfacing a boat’s autopilot and navigation plotter.
Pretty near all of us are now using electronic navigation systems, that’s a given, but can you safely dispense with paper charts altogether?
For many navigators the idea of going to sea without any paper charts aboard at all is pure heresy. But is that really true? Are we just hanging on to paper charts because we are stuck in our ways? Is there a viable all electronic backup?
Up to this point in this Online Book we have been writing about good navigation practices. Now let’s turn our eyes to the cool electronic toys we all love.
And since I’m an electronics technician by trade and have spent most of my working life in high tech fields this is going to be leading edge stuff and way cool!
Marine electronics are great but they can also make you crazy. Here are some tips to keep you sane.
Solid recommendations, for VHF radios, sat phones, AIS, Navtex and Weather Fax
When radar really matters, what unit should you buy? John has the answer based on 30 years of radar experience, much of it in places where reliable radar is vital.
John looks at the question of whether to install a dedicated plotter or a computer for electronic navigation, and continues with a description of what he did install and how it has worked out.
So what’s the best computer to run navigation software on? John, who has spent most of his working life around computers, takes a deep dive into the issues and then reveals his choice.
John answers a member’s question on what is the best sextant to buy and then looks at whether or not we voyagers even need one at all.
Pretty much all of us rely on GPS, but have you every wondered how the thing actually works? Matt has the answers, and they are fascinating.
Many voyagers worry most about ocean passages but, in fact, the dangers are far higher on a coastal passage. Colin, who has made countless passages along one of the most challenging coasts anywhere, is eminently qualified to guide us through the coastal passage planning process.
Some of the best cruising grounds in the world are plagued with fog, so it pays to have the necessary gear as well as navigation and collision-avoidance skills—will make you safer at night too.
Colin starts off a three part series with an in-depth analysis of the tools to have when the visibility shuts down.
Never was the old axiom proper preparation prevents poor performance more relevant than when cruising foggy places. Colin gives us an in-depth check list to run through before we leave port.
Colin has covered gear and preparation for navigating in fog. Now we get to the meat of it: what to do when underway and the visibility shuts down. Includes a vital section on the rules of the road in fog.
Colin and John have teamed up to share the fruits of some 70 years of combined radar use experience much of it in the foggiest (Atlantic Canada) and highest traffic (English Channel) areas of the world.
What hardware should you buy for receiving weather information and other communications? In this chapter I take a look at the two main options, HF SSB and satellite phone, and make some recommendations.