Thursday, April 29, 2021

the needful core non-electronic navigation gear to get you where you want to go...

A death of note, regarding a particular Gecko species, and in the "What is/is not for dinner" department...

It's not that I'm a Luddite but I will admit that, as far as boat systems are concerned, I'm fairly well entrenched to being "old school". Which translates into that I'm a pretty happy camper when I know where I'm going, where I'm coming from, and, more or less, know precisely where I happen to be in a particular moment in a journey.

Of course, to know those things one requires a variety of input data and to get that data we require tools...

For starters, aboard "So It Goes" we need a compass so I know which way to point the boat. Actually we have several compasses but the bare minimum, for me at least, is two. A compass to steer by and a hand-bearing compass to take sights with. Our steering compass is a Sowester grid compass and we have a Suunto hand bearing compass which can also be used as a steering or telltale compass.

Since the compass tells us which direction we're going, we also need a way to tell us just how fast we're going which, with input of time gives us distance traveled. We have a variety of gear to measure speed such as our VDO Sumlog which is a mechanical (prop driven shaft drive) instrument which tells us how fast we're going and how many nautical miles we have traveled. To back up the Sumlog, we also have a Wasp trailing log and just in case, we have a Knotstick which only gives us speed. I'll be the first to admit that in terms of navigation gear I'm very much a "Belt and braces" sort of guy.

The next bit of my core navigation gear is a cheap Davis Mark 25 plastic sextant which I paid a whopping fifteen bucks for in a thrift shop. I believe that the current retail on the Davis is over $250 but can be found for much less. My previous and still favorite sextant was the Ebbco (also plastic) sextant which still shows up from time to time on the UK eBay and I keep looking for one as it is, in my opinion at least, the best cheap plastic sextant around and a lot more robust than the more delicate Davis Mark 3, Mark 15 and Mark 25, as well as being more precise than the Davis Mark 3.

Lastly, I have a couple of watches (a digital and windup) because time is a very essential element where navigation is concerned.

You may have noticed that none of these items use electricity with the exception of the cheap digital Casio and I sorta/kinda like it that way. In decades of being on boats, the most common problems encountered were almost entirely of an electrical nature. With this core setup, I can sail anywhere I care to with zero worries concerning issues with electronics or winding up on the wrong island.

The total outlay of all the various needful bits is quite small and I'm pretty sure I could replace everything listed (including the various backups) for less than three-hundred dollars total with careful shopping. For the bare bones cheap as you can get, I'd look for a Used Silva 70 compass (which works great for steering/handbearing), a used Knotstick, a used Davis Mark 3 sextant and a cheap $15 Casio watch which in total should not set you back more than $100 or so.

Then again, as I am most assuredly not a Luddite, I do have electronics because they really do make a lot of sense providing that you are not 100% dependent on them getting you to where you need to go.

Next we'll look at what electronics I find most needful in the overall scheme of things.

Listening to Flaco Jimenez

So it goes...