And On Our Way

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 6 May 2021 01:12
Noon Position: 34 41.2 S 173 48.2 E
Course NW Speed 5 knots
Wind: SE F4 Sea: slight Swell: E 1 meter
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s Run: 84 nm

We continued to experience light winds overnight but sufficient to keep the sails full and for the wind vane to keep Sylph on course, so we have enjoyed a peaceful night. This forenoon the winds have gradually strengthened, as forecast, and we are now running wing-on-wing before a moderate SE’ly making good five or so knots.

Given the light conditions, to add some interest I turned the GPS plotter off so as to practice some more traditional navigation using a hand bearing compass and chart. And this morning I broke out the long-dormant sextant, cleaned the mirrors, adjusted it for errors, and shot a sun sight. Unfortunately I forgot to download an almanac before losing mobile phone coverage so I have had to use software rather than tables to reduce the sight – not quite as satisfying.

It has been a long time since I have swung the sextant and I realise just how rusty I am on all the calculations. One reason why I have not practiced my celestial navigation for some years now is that the previous AIS unit relied on the GPS input to be able to warn me of the presence of other ships so I have been loathe to turn it off. However, now that Sylph has an AIS-B system with an independent GPS input I figure as long as I keep a good lookout I should be okay. In any event, while I am relatively close to the coast there are quite a few smaller vessels without AIS so I need to be more vigilant in coastal waters.

While one cannot complain about the greatly improved safety that technology affords mariners at sea, one downside, which I have no doubt mentioned before, is that it separates us from our environment. Rather than looking at the coast, the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars, I am simply looking at a screen down below. No doubt in a few days, or less, I will revert back to the marvels of modern science, but for now I will spend a bit of time living a little more in the moment.

All is well.