This holiday season, during which we will gladly return for a few days to traditions, inspires me to rethink the traditions of an activity that is dear to us : navigation.
Not one of our illustrious predecessors, royal marine, discoverers of distant lands, privateers, pirates or honest merchants, isn't it. I want to mention one that concerns us for over half a century : yachting. Especially to the attention of our friends who are sailors born in 1970-80, who discovered the navigation from the years 1990, period of the emergence of GPS on board our yachts.
I, who is constantly adding a website and a blog on the intricacies of computing onboard, all these tools that bring us our position a few meters, the weather in eight days, the depth of water under the keel, the time that it will tack to take advantage of favorable wind shift, and how much other information available in three clicks or three taps on a tablet, I never forget how I learned to navigate.
The basics of navigation.
I was lucky to be born in the years 50, and then to discover boating in the 70, with a sail thread in hand (whipping twine) and a rigid chart on my knees. I spent weeks learning to find myself on the chart and the landscape around me by practicing this nautical basic : on steering by alignment.
Good trainee and highly motivated, I assumed the cruise, crossed my beginner's "Cape Horn", Passage of the Teignouse, Raz de Sein, Raz Blanchard, practicing a rustic but effective navigation, this other basic the dead reckoning. It is understood that, regarding the number of hours spent at the chart table, better not be seasick, or provide a bucket nearby post !
Yachtsman more informed, I traveled to sail without an engine, with any kind of boats our beautiful Atlantic coasts, with a sounding line, a log line, and weather forecastss from France Inter and BBC Radio4. Even in the thick fog in the Channel, I do not recall ever having to ask anyone's help to land or take a boyage. Anyway, even though I was equipped with a VHF – what luxury – I had not learned to use it, can you imagine !
I ended up learning how to use all the beautiful toys that I met during my sailings : GPS, Radar, ChartPlotters, SSB… Later, become chandlery, I sold, I installed, I trained users. Finally, more recently computers have boarded our boats : laptops, light, inexpensive used, with software developed to facilitate our navigator's life. The rest you know that…
I fear that today many "young" browsers can not do without. Traditional sailing schools, essential in my day, do hardly recipe, or disguised as the sailing school charter "From Zero to Level Astro Navigation" in a week ! Who would still be able to port entrance only sailing, in engine failure, without calling a tow by VHF ? Which can still cross the Channel with dead reckoning, batteries went flat, and landing to Falmouth steering the right side of the Lizard ?
So in this holiday season or traditions is to offer gifts, indulge yourself with a book that tells you these famous fundamental, i.e. : Glenans Sailing Manual, or Navigation on the high seas, by Olivier Stern-Veyrin, exhausted but still found the net looking good. Visit navastro.fr or immerse yourself in the “fundamental formula of celestial navigation” from this page Francis Lonchamp. Then at Spring, try to turn your first GPS navigation computer off. You will see, this will be a homecoming for saving, before turning your iPad and open your favorite applications.