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Starry, starry night, paint your iPhone blue and grey...

Mastering even the rudiments of astro navigation is still an ambition for me. Its one of those skills that really must be learned through practice – especially practice at sea.

Practical celestial navigation usually requires a marine chronometer to measure time, a sextant to measure the angles, an almanac giving schedules of the coordinates of celestial objects, a set of sight reduction tables to help perform the height and azimuth computations, and a chart of the region. With sight reduction tables, the only math required is addition and subtraction.

Starry, starry night, paint your iPhone blue and grey… → Click here to continue reading →

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7 days sailing just to cross the garbage in the North Pacific

North Pacific Subtropical Convergence ZoneCapt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he’s drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.

While competing in the Transpac 1997 veteran seafarer Charles Moore came across what some have since deemed the world’s largest “landfill” — actually a huge water-bound swath of floating plastic garbage the size of two Texases. Trapped in an enormous slow whirlpool called the Pacific Gyre , a mostly stagnant, plankton-rich seascape spun of massive competing air currents, this Great Pacific Garbage Patch in some places outweighs even the surface waters’ biomass six-to-one.

Ninety percent of all rubbish floating in the world’s oceans is plastic. In 2006, UN environment programs estimated that every square mile of ocean contained at least 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Floating in the surface layer are plastic products, tons of drift nets, plastic bags, packing straps, and common household items like soap, television tubes, automobile tires and deodorant bottles. One suspected spill of plastic bags was measured to have covered ten miles of ocean.

7 days sailing just to cross the garbage in the North Pacific → Click here to continue reading →

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“I want my VMG” why are we in Dire Straits?

In a previous post I complained about the inability of expensive chart plotter devices to calculate proper routes by assessing the correct Course to Steer (CTS) using tidal streams and wind data. If you are a sailing vessel then trying to steer along the “projected track” line that these plotters are fond of displaying is the least efficient Course to Steer – even if you are sailing dead down wind. To add to this issue your expensive chart plotter from Raymarine or Garmin or Foruno will be displaying a VMG that will mislead you into steering a poor course – and if you tack the chart plotter will not be able to tell you what your ETA is either.

“I want my VMG” why are we in Dire Straits? → Click here to continue reading →

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Hail, high winds and Natural Navigation

Natural NavigatorI have just been on a 1:1 course with Tristan Gooley aka the Natural Navigator. This was an inspiring and highly practical introduction on how to use your senses and natural clues to navigate – with no electronics in sight. Natural navigation is the art of being able to find your way solely by using nature. It encompasses using the sun, moon, stars, weather, water, land, plants and animals.

Tristan is an accomplished and well respected navigator. He has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic. He has a deep and passionate interest in navigation and also the ancient practices now all but lost to the modern world. Skills shown by the Tuaregs of North Africa and the Polynesian sailors of the Pacific Islands …insights from which he wove into the walk across the rather bleak South Downs in November!

Hail, high winds and Natural Navigation → Click here to continue reading →

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Navigating the Ocean Floor with Google Earth...

GoogleOceanI have a lote of respect for Google – even though some may characterise them as the Evil Empire2 (you all know who EE1 are:-)

But I think they are jumping the gun a little with the claim being made with Google Earth version 5.1 that you can “You can navigate under the surface of the ocean just as you can anywhere else in Google Earth. This means that you can explore sea floor terrain, such as deep ocean trenches….”

Ahem, I dont think so.

According to the help files here … “You can hide or display the surface of the ocean. To do this, click View > Water Surface. You can view this visual effect from above or below this surface. Note that you can navigate under the ocean surface when it is displayed. ….Tip – To view exciting content related to oceans, in the Layers panel, click Ocean.”

Navigating the Ocean Floor with Google Earth… → Click here to continue reading →

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