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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Charting Up for the Caribbean

Here are the charts and guides you need to safely navigate and cruise the Caribbean  (published January 2014) Every fall hundreds of boats depart the East Coast for the Caribbean. Bermuda Harbour Radio estimates that as many as 1,100 boats make the passage south each year, and all of them

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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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True Reliability

Where to look when building redundancy into your boat's systems  (published January 2014) Cruising boats are simple but contradictory things: a heap of essential, often complex, systems that you rely on for transportation, comfort and safety. Failure of a critical system at the best of times can be expensive and

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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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New Developments in Nautical Chart Distribution

(published December 2013) NOAA recently announced that the U.S. government is discontinuing printing of the traditional lithographic paper charts in April, 2014. The reasons given include the popularity of e-charts, and more to the point, the NOAA print on-demand (POD) paper charts have now gained wide acceptance. Agents who can

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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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True Wind from Apparent Wind

How to calculate the true wind and why it matters to sailors  (published September 2013) There are several ways to define the wind. For weather work at sea we care only about the true wind. This true wind is the speed and the direction of the wind relative to the

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Weather Facts

How to obtain weather information by satellite phone  (published July 2013) As satellite phones become commonplace for today’s blue water sailors, the question is, what services are available and how do you choose between them to get the best information for you and your crew? Weather data are available underway

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