ECS without GPS

How to use your electronic charting system for navigation, even if your GPS fails  (published March 2014) We might assume an electronic charting system (ECS) is only useful if we have a GPS connected to it so we can track our boat across the chart. But the GPS is just

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When Your Steering Fails

The best way to avoid steering problems is to maintain the equipment. But you also need to have a Plan B if it does fail.  (published March 2104) Winds were brisk at 40 knots and the waves were large as we beam reached across the Southern Ocean on the Whitbread

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Herd Instinct

Deciding when to head offshore can be tricky, and subject to the opinions of those around you  (published February 2014) It had been a rough passage from England to Cape Town, South Africa. Drum had almost sunk— again! On that, then-most-recent trip in 1985, several of the flat panel composite

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Navigation System Backups

Know where you are when your most important systems fail  (published January 2014) It’s a question of if, not when your main navigation equipment fails. Of course, it usually tends to do so right when you need it most, such as just after you’ve committed to shooting that chancy inlet

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Limitations of GPS

Why we should learn to navigate  (published January 2014) If you rely solely on GPS to navigate in the fog, you will not know if it was right until the fog lifts, or until some other, maybe abrupt, event lets you know. This is just as true navigating under clear

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North to South: Pointing the Way

How magnetic compasses work in the real world  (published January 2014) It was a bitter cold night. We left Newport, R.I. at 0300 that morning, and we were still about 60 miles north of the warm Gulf Stream. Fortunately, winds were WNW at about 25 and when we were to

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Moving Pictures: Tall Tales and Seascapes

How to get the most out of sharing your sailing experiences using modern video cameras  (published December 2013) Since the very beginning of sailing, sea stories of giant waves and monsters as told by sailors have captivated and enthralled audiences the world over. These days with modern waterproof cameras we’ve

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Bitter Winds

Cold weather sailing can be hard and dangerous. Or, it can be a rare pleasure.  (published December 2013) Christmas Eve. We had just tied up alongside the remaining floating dock behind The Newport Harbor Hotel in Newport, RI. Most of the other docks in town had been put away for

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Piloting Practice with Geocaching

  How to use this popular GPS game to become a better navigator  (published November 2013) The hobby of geocaching has been popular for many years now. In its simplest form, you hide a small container with a logbook in it, and then post the GPS coordinates of the cache

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Landfall Bermuda

Sailing to Bermuda isn't always the easiest passage, and stopping there can have surprises of its own  (published November 2013) The delivery out of the BVI aboard Alerre, a Swan 61, had gone smoothly. With plenty of sailing behind us and reserve jugs of diesel, we had enough fuel to

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