Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.

2007-04-08

Navigational musings, or "spot the sailor"


A clever, prudent navigator of the old school recently posted on a sailing forum that "generally, it is assumed a given that ships do not go down in benign conditions". To which I replied that "Greek cruise ships in broad daylight in flat seas mowing down reef-mounted fixed nav aids excepted, I guess". Excuses? While it's easy to play at Armchair Admiralty, this sounds weak even to a freshwater sailor: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/04/08/greece.cruiseship/

The difference between a navigator and a navigational aid is profound and vast, and I suspect that sometimes our reliance on admittedly wonderful and convenient technology causes us to fail to "internalize" what might be described as a "positional sense" (where am I? how far am I from other objects? how long will it take to get from here to there?) that is critical for real-life navigation. Coastal pilotage, celestial, DR plots, LOPs and just looking out the damned window occasionally engage us physically with our surroundings, whereas an over-commitment to graphical displays with no reference to the vast hull filled with machinery and passengers below us can divorce us from such useful instincts.

Boats can be made safer and navigational aids are now many and in the main, accurate (until the power goes out). But can skippers be made smarter? The test cases are sometimes discouraging.

No comments: