Seattle, WA   August 15, 1997Number 1

New Nautical Bookstore with Star Finder Bargains

Seattle, WA SeaOcean Book Berth has just opened up on Stone Way, a few blocks south of Sea Gear Store where we do our classes (see how to get there).

Besides specializing in nautical books, the owner, Master mariner Christopher Flavell, who has taught marine navigation in the past, brought to the business some dozen or more new star finders (normal 2102-D variety) which he is selling for $16.95 each. The list price of these has just gone up (our price for these, for example, is $29.95) so if you are in the neighborhood and market for one, this is a good deal. He might ship it out to you (priority mail is $3 for these), but I do not know. He also has some other plotting tools, and, needless to say, many wonderful nautical books. Their phone is 206-675-9020 and fax 206-675-9029, address is 3534 Stone Way North, Seattle, WA 98103.


GLONASS: Review and Update

GPS World, July 1997 "GLONASS: Review and Update," by Richard B. Langley, is an excellent review of the Russian GPS system, including much interesting info such as: anyone can use it, some commercial units use both US and Russian systems, and the Russian system does not use selective availability (SA) so fixes from it are more accurate, about a factor of two. Good comparisons of accuracy data are included. See also GPS World GPS World is published in Eugene OR (541-343-1200). It is available in the magazine reading sections of most city libraries.


The Lunar Distance Method

Navigation: Journal of the Institute — The Lunar Distance Method in the Nineteenth Century: A simulation of the Joshua Slocum's Observation on June 16, 1896.

That is the catchy title of an excellent article on how to find longitude by lunar distances that appears in the Spring 97 issue (Vol 44, No1) of Navigation: Journal of the Institute (this is the US one, not the British, which is called Royal Institute of Navigation). The author is Sieberen Y. van der Werf from the Netherlands.

If you have interest in this esoteric subject, then you will enjoy this article. The Starpath book called Emergency Navigation treats a variation of this subject called longitude by lunar altitudes. This latter has the advantage that no special tables or techniques are required.


AK to Seattle Sail Reinforces Radar Value

Pacific Northwest Coast — On July 3rd David Burch, director of Starpath returned from a 9-day delivery back to Seattle from Petersburg AK. Vessel was a 40-foot sail boat. A good time and safe trip was had by all. Went mostly by outside route — motoring all but about 1.5 days — though got enough inside work at night north of Queen Charlotte Sound to reconfirm the value of radar.

We got a lot of practice coordinating the use of radar and GPS for tight navigation in the pitch dark...through windy channels in strong current with occasionally fast traffic popping around the corners, etc. A good reminder that the Radar Trainer is an extremely valuable tool. Just a few hours work with its simulator and tutorial will make a world of difference to those making this type of passage for the first time.

Also had occasion to work with the new Garmin 12XL GPS unit on this delivery. Very impressive.


News from the NWS

Washington, DC — The Marine Prediction Center (the office that makes the weather maps that the USCG sends out by HF fax) has added several new and useful features to their web page.

One is a new User's Guide to Radiofacsimile Maps. It is listed in the Index on their home page. The presentation is a bit awkward, but the information is great. There are several versions available. If you have an active tif viewer on line and working well (ie you can easily and conveniently download their maps already) then the most convenient version is likely the one called text only, and then click open the illustrations as they appear. Otherwise, the main file (called print version) is over 1 meg and will take a while to download.

Next they have added pages that present the fax schedules with hot links to the individual maps listed on the schedule maps — actually they have added this back. It was there once and then removed. This is very definitely the most convenient presentation of these maps and hopefully these will stay here. The links are: Hot Pacific Schedule and Hot Atlantic Schedule.

And finally there is a new product called Latest Coastal and High Seas Text Reports. The way this is structured now is you always get the latest one. So compare your local time to the standard synoptic times (00 06 12 18 UTC) to see which is likely there at the moment.

We believe that one of the very best ways to learn practical weather map reading and weather analysis is to compare these text reports — prepared by experts — with the actual map they are describing. Hence, download the text file, see what map it refers to (ie 12Z}, then download the corresponding map, print them both and compare them. Guaranteed, you will always learn something interesting in this comparison.


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