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Does anyone still sail without a chart plotter?

Athomson

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20 Sep 2020
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I started sailing before GPS was affordable and navigation was a fun skill and a big part of sailing. Then we all had hand-helds for marking positions on charts. Then I had a 10 year gap and getting back into it a few years ago seems like chart plotters have become all pervasive. Not that I mind having one exactly but I've noticed with car sat nav when I moved house to a new town I just don't learn my way around, have barely even after years. I make a point of not using it as much as I can so that I use my brain.

Anyone choosing to stay without a chart-plotter? Do people think you're crazy or a dangerous menace? Where are we are at now
 

capnsensible

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I'm fortunate to be able to sail quite a few different yachts. Around half of them have plotters. I'm happy on either group.
 

Athomson

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I'm fortunate to be able to sail quite a few different yachts. Around half of them have plotters. I'm happy on either group.
Did i gather correctly from another thread that you run sail training? Do you come across people who have been sailing for years who have no idea how to navigate without a plotter?
 

NealB

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I started sailing with my Dad, in the mid-60's.

No gps, or Decca or Loran, back then, but Dad had his Master's ticket (foreign going), so we managed OK.

I've sailed my own boats since the mid-80's, and I managed ok, too (with help from Dad plus RYA courses).

Nowadays, I don't bother with gps if having just a local 'potter' in good conditions, but I certainly switch it on when doing (even slightly) more serious trips: I'm not looking to make things deliberately more challenging.
 

capnsensible

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Did i gather correctly from another thread that you run sail training? Do you come across people who have been sailing for years who have no idea how to navigate without a plotter?
Used to up until the pandemic.

Use of some kind of plotter has been a part of courses for some time. So I would say most people who have their own boat or have been through training of some sort use it all the time. Which, for those doing YM exams of some sort get a tad surprised when the examiner says it's broke. Navigate. So that's what instructors do in prep weeks.

As mentioned, I get to sail some boats locally that don't have them. mostly I'm there to help friends develop in sailing so they don't miss what they haven't got.

No doubt that plotters have made sailing much safer and encouraged people to push on a bit further. But personally I'm very comfortable living without anything but the echo sounder.......
 

Athomson

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I only fitted a plotter on my boat about 5 years ago, and more for the AIS than anything else. I have to say though, that I am a complete convert.
Its ridiculously easy to get used to isn't it, "here's me on the map" done. AIS sounds worth having though and I guess you can't have that without bringing the plotter with it.

Do any chart plotters have tidal vector information in them? So it can work out a course to steer for you based on the time and speed you're at. Should be easy enough to program that as a feature.
 
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I have a basic black and white chartplotter, to supply GPS info to the Navtex and VHF which it does very well.. but I never use it for navigation or buy cards for it.
I love paper charts, if there were no paper charts I would take up tiddlywinks or trainspotting instead.
 

lustyd

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Remember, not everyone using a plotter is navigating, which is a skillset quite separate to driving somewhere. Not everyone using paper charts knows how to navigate either. Navigation is a set of skills, ploters and charts are some of the tools used to implement those skills. Both parties may make a mark on their tool at Cherbourg, and both may steer a course to that mark from the Nab. Does that mean that either of them have done a good job? A navigator would take wind and tide into account, among other things.
 

Athomson

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No doubt that plotters have made sailing much safer and encouraged people to push on a bit further. But personally I'm very comfortable living without anything but the echo sounder.......
Is lead line use not part of the training? If you have a particularly annoying student you can get rid off him/her to the bow by saying the sounder broke

Plotters must have reduced peoples keeping a good lookout though, the amount of time looking for the next buoy and other marks, compared to simply not being forced to look out at all. Sat inside with the plotter, radar, AIS. Saves getting wet I guess
 

Athomson

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Remember, not everyone using a plotter is navigating,
I bet a fair proportion are point and shoot with a chart plotter. Maybe guestimate a little addition one way or the other for drift. But as long as we follow the line we'll get there so anything else is a more of a chore. Having back up charts folded neatly away at most. Up to the individual of course but its a shame when skills are lost from something and its always the same negative flip side of convenience, same as so many other examples.
 

lustyd

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I bet a fair proportion are point and shoot with a chart plotter.... its a shame when skills are lost from something and its always the same negative flip side of convenience,
You're making quite a leap in assuming people were not point and shoot with paper! Pre-GPS people may have needed to derive their position manually, but those days are long gone even for paper navigators. Manually deriving a position is no guarantee that someone was not then using that position to steer straight at the target though.
 

Athomson

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You're making quite a leap in assuming people were not point and shoot with paper! Pre-GPS people may have needed to derive their position manually, but those days are long gone even for paper navigators. Manually deriving a position is no guarantee that someone was not then using that position to steer straight at the target though.
I wasn't assuming that exactly, more that if someone has a chart and a pencil out already its not so much more to do a bit of tide work on it and they probably learnt that if they did any training. But even if they learnt it if the back up charts are tucked away would many be using vectors with a plotter? Thats why I wondered if any fancier plotters have the tide data already installed
 

RJJ

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14 Aug 2009
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I have a plotter and also do DR and take the odd fix, because I don't want the skills to fade. At the start of every season it takes me a few minutes to work out which direction to offset for tide etc.

I had the benefit of teenage dinghy racing in Chichester Harbour and the Solent, which gives you an intuitive feel for moving your boat around a moving surface and the rest. It's hard to pick that up, and very hard if you go straight to using a plotter.

That said, it's not that big a deal for many people. Who cares if they "point and shoot" and it takes them a bit longer to get there? I mean, I care, but the crew will be none the wiser ;-) I'm guessing that anyone venturing cross-Channel actually learns to do their offsets properly.
 

Stemar

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I did my only cross-channel trip on Jissel without a plotter, but was entirely happy to use GPS. I reckon aiming for Cherbourg and finding yourself just too far down tide to get there is an over-rated experience. I have the Navionics app on my phone and an aging tablet but, TBH, don't use 'em much as I pretty much know my way around where I go now. If I planned something adventurous, like a trip round Britain, I rather think it would be the excuse for a decent plotter, with the phone and tablet as a backup. As discussed elsewhere, a set of paper charts would be the system of last resort, but they aren't cheap either, so I'd sooner get second hand ones that I could update as I'm planning my trip, and spend the extra on a better plotter or new tablet. If there's such a thing as a waterproof, daylight visible tablet, I could well be tempted instead of a dedicated plotter.
 

capnsensible

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Is lead line use not part of the training? If you have a particularly annoying student you can get rid off him/her to the bow by saying the sounder broke

Plotters must have reduced peoples keeping a good lookout though, the amount of time looking for the next buoy and other marks, compared to simply not being forced to look out at all. Sat inside with the plotter, radar, AIS. Saves getting wet I guess
Yup all of that. I see people with increasingly less awareness of what's going on around them. But that's the same in a high street with people who can't take their eyes off a mobile phone....

lead lines. Often talked about, rarely used. If the conversation veers that way, sometimes show people how to use it to calibrate echo sounder setting. Would be more of a thing with fast track courses where there is time to do that stuf.

Have only used one for real on my own yacht once to sound out a good anchoring spot ........so I could fix my electric one!
 
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