I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my handheld GPS packing it in.
Last Friday we sailed across the bay through Knapps Narrows and beyond, again without GPS. This time I was paying attention, picking up compass headings from the chart, using my binocs to sight the coast on the eastern side. And I have good news for everyone: Good old-fashioned piloting with charts and compass still works. Actually, it wasn’t a problem at all. The only data point lacking without GPS is accurate speed over ground, but I was able to estimate with a fair amount of accuracy (I think – my arrival times were in the ball park, anyway).
So, why do we need GPS? We don’t, really. However, it does take some of the anxiety out of sailing in low visibility and at night. But do we coastal cruisers need it? Nah. In fact, not having it recently has let me know how far I’ve let my vigilance slip in the concentration department. I was much more alert in last week’s crossings than I usually am with GPS spoon-feeding me all the piloting data.
Nonetheless, in a few days, I will own a GPS again. My wonderful wife bought a new one for me, and our postman will deliver it soon.