Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
I can't pretend to have done it myself, but there must be much greater satisfaction available from planning a passage on a chart, then navigating by visual (or audible*) proofs (or sufficient evidence from soundings) of one's whereabouts, and reaching a day or more later, a position close to where your reckoning calculated.

It may not be easy or even prudent to invariably rely on non-technical ways which are ultimately more fallible than the icy certainty of satellite-established GPS, amid fleets of other vessels who haven't used the old ways, but it's got to be more pleasing when it works.

I'd never suggest foregoing keeping a GPS set on board, in order to back-up one's conclusions.

Looking back, before anyone had GPS, I did once sail a dinghy from Chichester to Seaview, with barely a mile's visibility, and with no compass, chart, means of sounding or any knowledge of the tidal currents. Is that luck, or was I born to dead-reckon?

* I was thinking of foghorns. But I guess most foghorns at fixed locations are silent these days, because everyone has GPS.
It was - on a typical overnight Channel crossing at the western end (say Falmouth to Morgat), you would be out of sight of land within a few hours and not see Ushant or North Brittany until some time the next morning. So having already worked out the net effect of all the tides over the period and set an offset course accordingly you would then note course and log reading on change of watch - and at some point, perhaps every 8 hours, then 4 then 2 - you’d plot the vectors and see the long S shape course marked out with crosses on the chart. Then see how much you were off on landfall which was surprisingly little.

But any fog and the whole thing becomes far far more stressful once within an estimated 5-10 miles of land after a 100 mile crossing so once GPS arrived (for us in 93) we bought it straight away even though it was like a foot high mobile phone and took 15 minutes (and a quarter of the capacity of the 6 AA batteries) to get a new fix. You couldn’t leave it on as the batteries would go within a couple of hours. But a complete game changer as the method remained just the same but the vector plotting was no longer needed and the crosses on the chart could be trusted.