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Old 12-24-2009, 11:10 PM   #1
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Hi folks,

I have this dream of buying a yatch and setting off for one year to see the world. Now I have no knowledge of any kind concerning anything that has to do with moving over water, so I started looking for information, and I came across this forum, and the general feeling was " unless you've spent years preparing, you're a fool, sailing is much much closer to a picture of the Titanic than the cover of a magazine, especially if you attempt unprepared ". But then there were the stories of people who just knew the basics of sailing a boat and went out there and did it.

I have absolutely nothing against the idea to prepare it, but before I start researching the subject, I want an advice: How much should I deepen my knowledge on the subject and in which fields? I want to know as little as possible not to spoil the magic and surprise, I do not want it to be just the step-by-step unfolding of a plan which I have taken 5 years to design, that occures in a predictable way. Too much knowledge can ruin the magic and the fun ( euh... right? ).

However, I want to know what sort of risk I will face, how serious ( VERY, that I know, but in which way exactly? ) and dangerous.

I want to know all I need to cope with the situation, all I need not to get killed or to very seriously endanger myself, and that's all. How much and how should I prepare to balance the proper amount of knowledge with the maximum thrill of discovering?

Now, in order to answer in a concise and pertinent way my question, I believe I should tell you a bit more about myself, as everyone requiers a different level of preparation. Here are a few skills I posses that I believe might be useful:

- I swim very well. I have trained in competitive swimming for many years. I am out of shape at the moment, but I will for sure return to my top shape and maintain it for at least 1 year before embarking on such a journey. I know this won't allow me to swim to shore if I sink 10km from it in a storm, but I suppose it might come to use in some way.

- I speak 5 languages, English French, German, Spanish and the irrelevant Bulgarian. I'm not sure if they will be that much of help, I suppose English is all I need, but I though I'd ask if it will be useful to practice those I have slightly neglected over the past few years.

- I have extensive knowledge when it comes to repairing and building stuff. I have done absolutely all sort of renovations in our house, my father thaught me. Wood working, soldering with flame and arc welder, brick building, using insulation chemicals, glues, epoxies. I suppose a boat won't be all that different to fix while onboard.

- I have extensive mechanics knowledge, one of my hobbies is sports cars rebuilding, and I can do absolutely any sort of repair on the boat engine, be it a valve resurfacing, a crankshaft bearing replacement, or the ECU diagnosis, I have done all of those things on many cars ( though I have never opened a diesel, I know some theory about them, and I will part the engine before taking off to know what it looks like, replace worn parts, buy some spares to carry, like a fuel pump which I know can be a weak point ). I will for sure carry with me a whole workshop worth of tools on the boat, just incase something - anything - goes wrong.

- I am very resistant to sleep deprivation. I am able to study and prepare essays for the university without sleeping for over 50 hours in a row, and I can cope with missing 2 nights per week for months. From what I read, this might come very handy during long storms.

- I am a thrill seeker, and I have the determination of never ever giving up. I consider myself as a though person, but I do know that the sea is simply a different world, so I will make no assumptions on if I will be able to cope with that, but I think I will. All I know is that I love danger, I love challenges. I've been twice in a very-near-death situation, and I managed to keep my calm, to switch of the part of the brain that makes you panic, and to just concentrate on doing what you need to do in the most efficient way, and I am assured I will not be calling SOS because of a rat under my bed.

All this being said, I am 23 and I know I know nothing of life, and I've never ever heard anyone say anything in the direction " sailing is for everyone ".

The skills I listed above are those I believe might come in hand and allow me to reduce part of the knowledge I take on board to maximize the fun. However, I really want this trip to be safe on the side of " getting killed ", since I will do it with my girlfriend, and I really really have no margin of error with her on board. On the aspect of health, she is graduating as vet, so she will be the doctor on board, she can handle deep cuts, wounds, bruises.

All this being said, neither of us is really experienced in anything, again, we are both 23 years old, so I've listed all the above hoping that it will guide the advice of the elder sailors that would have a word of wisdom to throw in here. Up to now, skiing and stunt bike driving is the highest I've reached in thrills, so I suppose it's nothing compared to what I will see once I lift the anchor.

I want this trip to be the trip of my life, to come back from it, and to come back from it changed, wise like the rest of you. I do not want this to be a 5 star cruise and see the world like through a TV. I want there to be adrenaline. Lots of it. I suppose both of us will need to be able to sail the boat alone, both of us will need to swim ( she needs to learn ). Anything else?

By the way, do I need a weapon on board? I've heard that pirates can be a very dangerous treath. My father has a long-range rifle, and I have the plans to construct a napalm thrower with 70-100m range and the labs needed to synthesize the napalm itself. I feel safe with a dragon on board, yet I'm not sure it's all that much of a neat idea. It's probably forbidden, though I can make it look like a water pumping device.

Also, how much will this cost? I am starting with nothing. What is the minimal sailboat that can handle any weather? I want to do this travel as soon as possible, and I will have somewhere around 25 000$ next fall, and probably over 60 000$ in 2 years, and probably over 300 000$ in 5 years. Is it better to have one of those expensive sailboats? I see that reasonnable sailboats range on ebay from 8 000$ to 80 000$. Is buying one in a bad condition and restoring it myself to save $ a good idea? What tend to be the port costs? Can you give me a general range? How safe are ports? I obviously won't be laying anchor in Haiti, but let's say I wanted to see Algeria. Is there a danger of having one's boat stolen?

I have also heard that one can find sponsorship for such a travel. Is it possible? How much can one expect ( I am located in Montreal, Canada )? How does one find it?

Any cost information on anything will be useful.

What books should I buy to help me prepare and along the journey?

Pain builds character. I want this trip to educate me, to make of me a man that has seen danger, that knows what a serious situation is. I want to be one of you, sailors. I want to see the world, I want to to gaze upon the beauty of mother nature. And I want to bring back my lady alive and well.

Alex
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Old 12-25-2009, 12:01 AM   #2
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French and Spanish are handy esp. if you are going to Polynesia or S america.

No you don't need a weapon.

Buying a boat in bad condition is not a good idea, you will have enough work getting her ready for a circumnavigation even if she is fresh from the factory....
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Old 12-25-2009, 12:27 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard, Alex!

All good Things in All good Time.

You share a dream of everyone here! Set your goals and do whatever it takes to make it happen. Budget is aften a limiting factor... but one doesn't need to own a boat to sail around the world but the rewards taste sweeter if you do it at the helm of your own boat.

Many of your concerns are valad but you'll find it a lot easier once you get out here. The hardest part is convincing yourself to quit your job and go!

You can do anything if you really want, if you are willing to try your best.

To Life!

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Old 12-25-2009, 02:34 AM   #4
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Have you seen this website? Bumfuzzle

Young couple with little experience sailed around the world. Start in 2003 and work backwards for the entire story.
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Old 12-25-2009, 07:02 AM   #5
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I don't think I would recommend the bumfuzzles as a role model to anyone.

Alex... different stuff works for different people but I reckon you would be looking at $80k for a boat ready to go and the same again for living expenses for the 3 years or so you are going to be out there. Unless you plan on a quick circumnav via the 'great capes' in which case you will want $160k for the boat and just a swag of mung beans.

The days of going around the world on the smell of an oily rag have pretty much gone...
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Old 12-25-2009, 09:07 AM   #6
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I don't think I would recommend the bumfuzzles as a role model to anyone.
I think that Bummfuzzle IS a role model for many, would you recommend it or not.

It is much more a matter of how one lives his/her own life than matter of seamanship or security.

As they were adults without children (at that time), they had every right to choose adventure over safety.

I think that "inexperienced circumnavigation" have much common with "singlehanded circumnavigation".

There are several factors to consider however:

- They bought a boat which needed a major repair in NZ. They had no knowledge at that time to spot those delamination problems, and the surveyor did not either, in spite of being one with a reputation. It costed them a fortune, fortunately they could afford it.

- They got very few rough weather. I think it is partly due to the fact that they were very much more careful with weather routing than they would admit. Also they were very conservative with the sail area. And yes, knowledge and caution is not substitue for sheer luck.

- They have motored a lot. It not just costs a fortune in diesel, but also wears down the motor. (I guess there was no a single moment in the entire circumnavigation when there wasn't problem with one of the motors.) And also some have very different notion of "sailing" than they.

- They have comitted at least one grave error of seamanship (that entry in unfavourable tidal conditions). Of course even an experienced seaman can commit such mistakes, and at that time they didn't count as inexperienced I guess.

- I suspect they have both benefitted from ADHD. (This is a genetical advancement widely considered as disease.) People of this condition have different perspective than the average, combined with an ability to learn real fast, thus leading to much better survival chances in harsh conditions. (There was a study on ADHD children in Africa, which was interrupted due to a war. It could not be continued even after, because none of the members of non-ADHD control group have survived.)
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Old 12-25-2009, 09:21 AM   #7
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- They bought a boat which needed a major repair in NZ. They had no knowledge at that time to spot those delamination problems, and the surveyor did not either, in spite of being one with a reputation. It costed them a fortune, fortunately they could afford it.
Ed Zackary.... you need a slab of cash behind you to cover the cost of the unexpected.....
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Old 12-25-2009, 10:44 AM   #8
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Hello Alex. I would just point out a few things which you might like to consider. In 1968/69 it took Sir Robin Knox-Johnson 10 months to sail singlehanded-non stop- around the world, in a race. So in the one year as you mention, even with a companion you will possibly not see as much of the world as you might hope.

"Knowing as little as possible so as not to spoil it" will definitely have some draw backs. Crossing some of the worlds oceans at particular times of the year can be much more hazardous than at other times of the same year. Crossing the Atlantic during the hurricane season as an inexperienced couple of sailors will certainly steepen your learning curve. As will the Pacific, the Indian Ocean in the Monsoon period etc: It's not impossible, it's been done, but needs thinking about.

Sailing into some foreign ports with a flame thrower on board will get you both arrested and quite likely your boat confiscated. Your voyage will end there...

Cruising in the sunshine off the coast of Somalia is not to be recommended either at the moment.

So, having said all that. If you have a dream then go for it mate. You can change and adapt your plans as you go, but you need to look at many things apart from the pure boat/sailing/cost side of things to protect yourself and your young lady from sailing into unnecessary danger.

In general and in most areas the world is a friendly place to sailing folk. To me as an old wrinkly it is, so to a young couple you shouldn't have too many problems. Good luck, stick with your dreams.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:02 PM   #9
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Check out www.projectbluesphere.com . Register, and start reading from the beginning of his logs.

Figure on a boat around 30' for two people. In this size range the costs can still be kept reasonable. I bought a 35' cruiser and just spent $750 on an anchor. ONE ANCHOR! I'm looking at spending almost $2,000 on chain! If I had to do it over again I would seriously have considered a smaller boat.

Also, my boat has a LOT of complicated mechanical and electrical systems. They all need work. I would have preferred the simplest systems possible (manual windlass instead of electrical, foot-pumps instead of pressure water, etc.). They're cheaper to install, operate, maintain, and repair. Simple systems are also much less likely to leave you waiting for parts in some 3rd-world country where the postal system only operates a few days each month.

Boats with freestanding masts would be at the top of my list (Freedom, Herreshoff, and Offshore cat ketches), with boats similar to the Columbia 31 and Seafarer 31 MkII being runners-up. A lot of boats have, or can be made to have, what it takes to sail off-shore.

Herreshoff 33 cat Ketch



Cruising is not really an adrenalin sport. For the most part, it would be called relaxing or frustrating (depending on your mood more than anything). I'm not saying there are not moments of terror, but they should not be the norm! If you're looking for more excitement, then maybe you should be looking for a catamaran. Check out Richard Woods designs at www.sailingcatamarans.com .
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:41 AM   #10
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We're doing a circumnavigation with relatively little experience as well, but I've been researching like a fiend.

Here's what my husband advises: "Get a boat that will do it and have a great adventure." He's the musician, hanglidding instructor, abstract painter.

But I'm an accountant; I like things more detailed. So I'll tell you our story so far.

Nov 2008 I quit my job, we sold our house and travelled around Australia in a pop-top van . A few months ago we were trying to figure out where we wanted to settle down. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it because I can't handle the commitment. I said lets buy a boat and live anywhere we want. The next day some friends agreed if we bought a boat they'd help us sail it to the Mediterranean, with ample stopover in Indo for surfing.

We were initially looking at $45K used boats but went all out (for our budget) with a $90K used boat that was exceptionally solid, proven seaworthy, and fully outfitted for serious long-passage sailing (it was a real bargain thanks to the recession). It's a steel hull; will require heaps of maintenance (rust!!!) but will be worth it if we ever hit a shoal, floating container, or whale! Moved on it in November and getting to know it. Unlike most people, moving onto a boat for us was like moving into a mansion after living in a van for a year.

Boats of all sizes and materials happily sail the world, but do your homework in this area. Some very smart looking boats just aren't constructed for bluewater sailing; make sure yours is.

We head off in May, once the Cyclone season is over in Australia. Spend a few months in Indo, surfing and diving (bought a hooker), then to Phuket in Thailand and we'll move around in that general area until January when the sailing across the Indian Ocean becomes good. Try to catch a convoy through the Gulf of Aden (those damn pirates!) then dive on our way up the Red Sea and into the Med for summer. We'll plan the rest after that.

In the meantime we are reading everything we can get our hands on to learn as much as we can. I spent quite a bit of time on the internet, reading reviews of different sailing books and as a result I have ordered the following:
  • "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual - Nigel Calder
  • "The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising - Beth Leonard
  • "Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair" - Nigel Calder
  • "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship" - John Rousmaniere (not sure if this will be overkill)
  • "Chapman Piloting & Seamanship" - Charles B. Husick
  • "World Cruising Routes"- Jimmy Cornell
Re: a 1-year circumnavigation, would either circumnavigate for a longer period, or pick a couple nearby areas of the world and explore them thoroughly in one year. Half the adventure is exploring the exotic places you visit. We bought Jimmy Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" to find the basic routes and timing because getting the right season and trade winds makes the difference in whether it's a pleasure trip or a hell trip.

We invested in a chartplotter rather than try to learn to navigate by sextant. We will still plot our course on paper charts (if the chartplotter crapped out we'd be stuffed) and have books to learn manual navigation for fun to pass the time while cruising.

Here's a site I found regarding costs that I used as an estimate for ourselves. http://www.sailbillabong.com/cruising-cost.htm

I was worried about pirates but after researching I'm no more worried about that than any other mishap. My research found that:

1. Most cruisers do not carry arms;

2. Only 2% that did were able to successfully get rid of the pirates (Sorry, I forget where I got this stat).

3. Carrying arms increases risk you'll be killed because you are now threatening their lives (and these are killers, you probably aren't).

4. Arms are illegal in many places and there are some tragic stories of people who ended up in horrible third world prisons.

Try Noonsite to find out ahead of time what you need to do when arriving in a port, especially of a foreign country. You'll need to know about visa's, potential yacht bonds (Indo), and other permits.

Hope some of this is helpful and have fun!
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:52 AM   #11
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Maybe I should have started a new thread for this:

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We invested in a chartplotter rather than try to learn to navigate by sextant.
In our country no one should go further from the shore than 12m without a certificate equivalent to RYA coastal skipper, which includes celestial navigation. We don't have any sea though

I would like to hear opininons about whether celestial navigation is necessary today.

I think that if one have a backup GPS, not much to worry about.

Others say that GPS can go offline like in the time of gulf war, and this is why all serious skippers should know celestial navigation. Well, I think that given the probability it is enough to know how to proceed in the case.

I would navigate by DR if offshore, and would try to hit land in an easy spot at daytime, then proceed with coastal navigation practices. So it would be a pita only if I would be en route to an offshore island.

However I think that sextant is a lot of fun, so I am learning celestial navigation anyway.
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:07 AM   #12
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However I think that sextant is a lot of fun, so I am learning celestial navigation anyway.
I love to learn things for fun and we plan to learn it on the trip (lot of time to learn things). But we didn't make it a prerequisite before leaving shore. There are so many risks; GPS goes offline, pirates, rogue waves, hitting submerged containers, etc.

I categorise risks by considering 1) Likehood of occurrance, and 2) Severity to life or limb if it did occurr. I rekon the loss of GPS has a fairly low likelihood and maybe a moderately low severity rating. It would be a serious problem but not necessarily deadly.

What are others' thoughts about that?
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:25 AM   #13
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Try Noonsite to find out ahead of time what you need to do when arriving in a port, especially of a foreign country.
Better still... consult the Cruiserlog World Cruising Wiki - HERE
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:44 AM   #14
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I love to learn things for fun and we plan to learn it on the trip (lot of time to learn things). But we didn't make it a prerequisite before leaving shore. There are so many risks; GPS goes offline, pirates, rogue waves, hitting submerged containers, etc.

I categorise risks by considering 1) Likehood of occurrance, and 2) Severity to life or limb if it did occurr. I reckon the loss of GPS has a fairly low likelihood and maybe a moderately low severity rating. It would be a serious problem but not necessarily deadly.

What are others' thoughts about that?
By my own experience loss of GPS/electronic charting would be at the top of the list that you have given. I've never seen a pirate, a submerged container, or a rogue wave. However I have had my charting system go TU simply because the USB ports on my computer died. I've had an LCD screen decide that it was way to cold and it was going into hibernation and I have had one of those USB GPS doodas ( a BU 303?) go on a long vacation cos of 'moisture ingress'. Lots of things can bring your electronic navigation to a grinding halt.

Call me old fashioned if you must but I reckon that if you can't find your way around ( coastal or deepsea ) without GPS then you shouldn't be leaving the dock.
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Old 01-02-2010, 11:02 AM   #15
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Call me old fashioned if you must but I reckon that if you can't find your way around ( coastal or deepsea ) without GPS then you shouldn't be leaving the dock.
I absolutely agree!
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:01 PM   #16
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It's nice to read that there are people who are still intending to learn celestial navigation, as like many old skills, both maritime and land based it seems to be slipping away into history. I have an elderly fixed GPS from which I take Latitude and Longitude and lay them off on a paper chart, I don't have a chart plotter or computer navigation, but I do use a sextant. I use it very often for ascertaining distance off but less often for celestial position fixing. Just enough to stay in practice and retain respectable accuracy really, as I find I quickly "go rusty" otherwise.

I'm happy to admit that the GPS is my prime method of navigation. I don't have radar, and the relative accuracy of the GPS under certain conditions is a real comfort.

http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk136/h...runacopy024.jpg

http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk136/h...runacopy005.jpg

These photos were taken outward bound this voyage, three days without sight of the sky, day or night, fast tides and ocean currents so dead reckoning is questionable and after a week at sea you're closing a rocky, unforgiving coast.

Visibility at times where I could just see my own forestay but hear the thump of a big fishing trawlers' diesel which is an event which shall we say tends to concentrate one's mind..

At times like that I love my GPS.. (and my depth sounder)

Just out of interest: A seamanlike solution would be to stand off until visibility improved I agree, but in this particular area, the coast of Galicia of North-West Spain, the summer fogs can last for weeks. This one lasted 9 days and as you can see in the photo, even in the harbour conditions were not ideal.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:19 AM   #17
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Have you seen this website? Bumfuzzle

Young couple with little experience sailed around the world. Start in 2003 and work backwards for the entire story.
Hey karenmc

whether these guys are a good role model or not their trip is fascinating. I looked it up last night out of interest and spent 5 hours reading it, it appears they were not to impressed with Sydney, Australia. They paid too much for everything, that is where local knowledge comes in. Anyhow, it is raining again here in SYdney, becoming the habit on weekends, so I am going to finsih their story off.

IF you know of any more travel diaries like this please advise.

Regards

Manni
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:22 AM   #18
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Lots of things can bring your electronic navigation to a grinding halt.

Call me old fashioned if you must but I reckon that if you can't find your way around ( coastal or deepsea ) without GPS then you shouldn't be leaving the dock.
I was talking about the risk that the entire GPS system is taken off line which is very low. We have several handheld GPS units and plenty of batteries. We will be plotting our path on charts so if the plotter system went down for whatever reason I would know where I was at that time and could continue navigating with our handheld GPS's. We have learned some coastal navigation with compass bearings but find our GPS tends to be more accurate. I just disagree that I need to be able to read the night sky in the middle of the ocean before leaving the dock. I have talked to long-time bluewater sailors who claim they've completely forgotten how to navigate by sextant and would have to re-learn it but no longer see a need.

It would be interesting to know how many currently out there learned it, but now don't use it and probably couldn't do it accurately anymore; I'm told you'd have to be using it all the time to keep your skills up. And of course in any case the sextant/chronometer mechanisms are potentially more fallible than electronic navigation systems.
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:20 PM   #19
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As I stated in an earlier post, I personally find that I make silly mistakes using a sextant for celestial navigation. I know about and do use the pro forma for the process but not being the sharpest tool in the toolbox when it comes to things even remotely academic, I still make mistakes due to lack of practice and carelessness. That's not the physical use of the sextant, which I use very often for simple 'distance off' of a charted object of known height, but the working of the sight with pencil and paper afterwards. On a TransAtlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to the West Indies in 2007, I got back into the routine of sun sights and I'm happy to say that the island of Martinique was exactly where I hoped it would be (according to my navigation) when I made landfall.

But, on this voyage on a rare clear day at the beginning crossing the Bay of Biscay, my first celestial navigation attempt placed me neatly somewhere in the Black Forest in Germany.. Thereafter it was back to the GPS! I'm confident that there are quite a few like me sailing around though, under the heading "capable but sorely needs more practice" and using their GPS' as their prime navigation aid.
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:39 PM   #20
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We have learned some coastal navigation with compass bearings but find our GPS tends to be more accurate.
Unfortunately that belief could bring you well and truly unstuck one dark and stormy night when relying on GPS - whether or not you are putting the position on a paper chart. Where I sail the longitudes are invariably a mile or so adrift ...on both the electronic and paper charts... you are stuck with eyeball regardless of how many GPS you have ( I have four ). Same can hold true in many of the 'less traveled' parts of the world. Lots of wrecks on reefs in the Pacific bear testament to that.

I just disagree that I need to be able to read the night sky in the middle of the ocean before leaving the dock.

No need to be able to read the night sky even if you do decide to do 'stars'.. only requires an ability to find a few major stars. All you need to able to do is take a simple sun sight to keep out of trouble. That and knowing how to do a running fix.

" And of course in any case the sextant/chronometer mechanisms are potentially more fallible than electronic navigation systems."

Sextants aren't prone to failure... unless dropped. Chronometer? Any wristwatch is good enough these days... while accuracy to the nearest second is a wonderful thing accuracy to within a few minutes will still keep you out of trouble.

If you can find a copy 'Emergency Navigation' by David Burch ( ISBN 0-87742-204-4) it would be worth having on any yacht. Predating GPS - published in 1986 - it tells you how to find your way around without sextant, compass or electronics....

Cheers

Frank
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