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348 F'n Saint

About Svanen

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  1. Svanen

    Team NYYC

    Crazy, isn’t it? As Hutch wanted the glory of being the skipper, he has to accept the responsibility too. What good he believed he was doing as a grinder is a mystery.
  2. Svanen

    Team NYYC

    Dennis Conner is on the team? Who knew?!
  3. Svanen

    Astrolabe Anarchy!

    Really? Please explain, in detail, how a single star sight can provide latitude.
  4. Svanen

    Low tech ocean cruisers

    Annie Hill - who has probably done more adventurous sailing than every contributor to this thread combined - is a longtime advocate of keeping things simple: “I believe that one of the great pleasures that we derive from voyaging is that of independence, and we have found that the best guarantee of that independence comes from simplicity”. See further her classic book, now sadly out of print but available secondhand or on Kindle. Here’s a more recent example of small-and-simple: Leo Goolden, “Solo across the Atlantic in a Folkboat”. No engine, no through-hulls (or head), no watermaker, no autopilot = no worries about systems maintenance.
  5. Svanen

    Astrolabe Anarchy!

    In 1978, Letcher published a book called Self-Contained Celestial Navigation with H.O. 208 (H.O. 208 refers to Dreisonstok’s compact reduction tables, which are reproduced as an appendix). I would not recommend it as a one-and-only astro textbook: while it could certainly serve in that capacity, nowadays most people prefer to use, or at least start with, other sight reduction tables. However, it is well-written, authoritative and full of interesting information and suggestions. You have a good memory. He said much the same thing in Self-Contained Celestial Navigation Using H.O. 208 (p.9): ”You can spend as much or as little on a sextant as you want to. The decision is interesting: there is no other case I can think of in which the cost-benefit curve flattens so abruptly. I figure that the first $10 or $15 (sic; remember, 1978 prices) gets you about 95 percent of the way; that is, the least expensive sextant will serve just as well as the most expensive one for about 95 sights out of 100 that the ocean voyager would like to take. ”For under $100, you can get to the 99-percent point; a sextant that would be outperformed by the best in only one sight out of 100. The only way to justify spending several hundred more dollars is to think that the 100th sight might come at a time when you’ve had no sights for days, you’ve been driven among dangers by a gale, and a single faint star breaks through the clouds as twilight is fading into night. ”At that point, a fine sextant with the best telescope, the clearest mirrors, and a micrometer that can be read in the dark could make all the difference between safety and shipwreck, and the sextant will have paid for itself 100 times over. “Will this ever happen to you? Who can tell? ‘You pays your money ... and you takes your chances’”. YMMV, but given the wide availability of GPS receivers I believe the scenario he conjured up is now very unlikely to occur (I also question how a single star shot - which will yield only an LOP, not a fix - could be expected to “make all the difference between safety and shipwreck”) ... so it cannot really justify the purchase price of a best-quality sextant, On the other hand, no one needs to “justify” buying, owning or using a sextant. They are obsolescent technology but they still work as well as they ever did and building skill in celestial navigation is an interesting and satisfying hobby (note that exactly the same may be said about sailboats and sailing). And although a cheap plastic sextant will work, a precision top-of-the-line metal sextant is very satisfying to use: so if you want one and can afford it, why not treat yourself?
  6. Svanen

    Astrolabe Anarchy!

    Yes, that’s essentially correct. There are plenty of good books available that can provide worked examples of sun sights, noon sights, planets, stars and the moon. I have approximately a dozen in my personal library, but the one I find most useful is Tim Bartlett’s Astro Navigation Handbook (RYA publication No. G78): it is concise and when I become rusty - as certainly happens between passages - a quick review soon gets me back on track. It certainly is easy to make trifling sight reduction errors that throw off all your calculations. Buckley said he was an expert at that, and I am too! Silly mistakes are especially likely when the navigator is tired, distracted or seasick. if a worksheet helps you to keep track of things, then go ahead and use one: it is not ‘cheating’ and I didn’t mean to imply that. I simply find them to be unnecessary. My only real objections to worksheets are not very important: they are one more thing to lug around they often contain very small spaces to enter the relevant figures, forcing you to use a tiny cramped print many are sold by commercial sources at relatively high prices to innocents who believe they are necessary or a big shortcut to success
  7. Svanen

    Astrolabe Anarchy!

    Yes, I agree. No doubt it is possible to become a competent celestial navigator by reading books, watching videos, and - above all - doing a lot of sight taking and reduction practice (celestial is not a subject that can be absorbed passively). That said, personal tutoring by an experienced navigator will greatly speed up the process. And by “experienced navigator” I mean someone who has extensive and current experience at sea. Not someone who last handled a sextant ‘in anger’ many years ago; and definitely not some deskbound Power Squadron ‘instructor’ who has little, if any, real world experience. He used a borrowed Heath. It's unclear exactly why he preferred it to his own sextant. Here is all he had to say on the matter in his book Shackleton’s Boat Journey: If you find his accent or somewhat languid manner to be off-putting, you might prefer the written introduction to astro essay published as Chapter 9 in his book Airborne (1970), pages 163-180. Your local public library may well have a copy.
  8. Svanen

    Astrolabe Anarchy!

    Not knocking Mr. Wisner - I know nothing about him - but worksheets are of limited usefulness. I suppose they are of some help to beginners (and we all have to start sometime, no shame in that) but even then I would suggest it’s better to follow a worked example than fill in a form someone else created for you. One thing’s for sure: by the end of a transatlantic or transpacific passage, reducing multiple sights every day, the process will have become almost second nature and you won’t need a crib.
  9. Svanen

    "What is Canada doing right?"

    +1 P.S. Bonnie Henry has a good track record of public service. It’s time for her to replace the incompetent and politicized Teresa Tam, of whom so little is known.
  10. Tonight's event will be conducted via ZOOM, 7:30 - 8:30 pm Eastern Time. For more information, contact Andrea Fernandez at
  11. Svanen

    CORA Flag

    I see a resemblance. However, it is certainly not a Confederate flag or necessarily a tribute thereto. If the Ed was seriously interested in effecting change rather than mere virtue signalling, he would seek dialogue, appeal to the members’ better natures, and attempt to persuade them to make a change. Instead, he publicly labels them as “rednecks (indulging in) good ol’ Southern racism” . Childish insults may be momentarily satisfying, but only cause people to dig in their heels.
  12. Svanen

    Stars and Stripes Team USA is gone

    Whatever floats your boat. Too bad you only showed him from the waist up, but I can guess what kit he has on below to complete his butch look:
  13. Svanen

    Stars and Stripes Team USA is gone

    Horrible publicity photograph. The scowling, crossed-arms, dark-clad, thuggish pose was an incredibly poor choice. Who wants to support people who wilfully look like that?