Seattle, WA   December 15, 2003Number 15

JRC offers free Radar Trainer

Oct 20, 2003. Seattle, WA.
JRC America has just announced that they will now be offering a free Starpath Radar Trainer PC program with the purchase of a JRC radar. We are proud of this recognition of Radar Trainer by one of the world's leading manufacturers of marine electronics and we applaud JRC for their customer care.


More sextant work

We have added a new program of monthly day sails for sextant practice. Four hours underway, rain or shine! If it rains, then we cover sextant piloting, a most rewarding skill to have, done well with just an inexpensive Davis Mk 3 sextant. The classes start in November. See Starpath event calendar. We try to schedule some times for evening star sights and others for sun sights.

We have also put online now the first part of our "sextant movie." This is an animation that teaches sextant usage. It is just getting started, but still should be valuable for new users. We will be expanding it greatly and incorporating it into our online course. See Sextant Movie


New calendar function online

We now have a calendar function underway. Still new but growing. The main motivation for this was to support the several schools around the country that are now using Starpath materials. We list the times and dates of these courses.

You can now get a Starpath Celestial Navigation course in Florida at Chapmans School of Seamanship and in Berkeley at the OCSC Sailing Center, as well as at Windworks Sailing in Seattle along with our own courses at Starpath. Coastal nav courses are also avaiable and we hope to have several new schools joining us in the next month or so.


Celestial Nav Online course now complete

We have now posted the reminder of the Online cel nav course. Some of the initial group are finished and the rest are well on their way. This class is now open for enrollment. We have changed the structure so that students can now enroll in this course at any time. Instructions are in the Online Classroom.

We will be starting the Radar and Weather Courses very shortly.


John and Amanda
Cruising Seminars in Seattle and San Francisco

John Neal and Amanda Swan Neil and other expert speakers will present their well known Mahina Offshore Cruising Weekend Seminars in March. If you are planning to go offshore, this is a great way to learn what is involved. They have both the experience underway and the experience in teaching it. They are strong supporters of Starpath training products. See Mahina seminars for details.


News on electronic charts

According to a recent notice in the Critical Corrections section of NOS (choose "new products"), electronic raster charts distributed by MapTech are now outselling NOS paper charts by 2 to 1. Considering that there are also at least 3 or 4 other companies making electronic charts, this is a an impressive result. The answer to the question "Will electronic charts ever catch on?" is obviously "yes," and it has clearly done so already.

On the other hand, this might be a misleading statistic if they do not compensate for the number of charts on each CD. That is, when a person buys one region on a CD, they are getting some 50 or more charts. If each CD sale is counting as 50 paper chart sales, then the numbers are not at all realistic. In fact, we would still guess that the chart use sequence is: most mariners (boaters) do not use charts at all, the second group would be paper charts, and the third would be echarts. Nevertheless, echarts are most definitely on the rise.

There is also an interesting note on that site that says there is now an option for updating electronic charts. Apparently it is a software program that will let you download and update the copy-protected charts. We will put more here on that when we learn more.


Compressed from beautiful shot from Photo Wave/Louis Vuitton, which you can see at their site
Why radar was ruled out of the America's Cup

To further illustrate the great value of radar for navigation, it has recently been banned (as of late December, 2002) from further Cup competitions precisely because it is so valuable an aid. Besides being able to tell precisely the heading and speed of the competitor, it is not beyond the high-level of competition of such racing to monitor the behavior of other vessels as well. Each syndicate, for example, has a sistership for tuning and testing. It is essentially identical and is manned by an equally skilled crew. If this vessel just happened to be practicing near the windward mark during a race, the racing vessel could monitor the speed and heading of that vessel to easily determine if the wind was shifted near the next mark... etc. A mini-arpa configuration on the radar could be set to compute and display the desired data automatically.

The main site for watching the cup races in the Louis Vuitton Cup site, and to learn even more of what is going on behind the scenes, dial up the New Zealand Herald Sports page. If you have an interest in match racing, we strongly recommend the Virtual Spectator software (available at the Louis Vuitton Cup site). It costs $29, which gives you live, high precision graphic coverage. Very well done and an excellent training tool for learning about tactics, etc. They have a free demo available.

The legal issues have centered on radar and laser range finders, but it would seem that the more significant instrument would be one that receives the GPS data from the competitor and displays and analyzes that onboard. This is fairly standard technology these days, forming the basis of the AIS system, not to mention the Virtual Spectator program itself. We may hear more of this later.... indeed, we do not know for sure what they meant by "radar" in the first place. All of these issues are kept secret within the syndicates.

As for the progress of the race itself, as it looks now, it seems the final America's Cup race will be between New Zealand's first string team from the last Cup race (which has been hired by Switzerland for this year's race) versus what was last race their second string team. In short, it is beginning to look like New Zealand does indeed have the preponderance of the high-end racing sailors. This should be therefore an excellent sailboat race, although the nationalism factor has been rather removed from the process especially if we don't count the fact that most of the technology on all of the vessels is American.

If New Zealand first string (aka Switzerland) does win the Cup from New Zealand second string (aka New Zealand), perhaps they will host the challenge from Auckland again, which does have a wonderful venue for the race whereas Switzerland does not. This would seem a reasonable solution to an otherwise rather complex socio-economic situation.


Available in the books catalog
Viking Navigation Book now available

We are very pleased to have been able to take part in reviewing a pre-release version a new book by Leif K. Karlsen called Secrets of the Viking Navigators How the Vikings used their amazing sun stones and other techniques to cross the open ocean. The book was designed and published by Marlin Greene of One Earth Press, here in Seattle. It is a beautiful book to behold and very interesting reading.

Every navigator has heard of sun stones, but few know that they are more than just a myth. Leif Karlsen has shown how they can be used now and likely were then, and many more ideas and techniques are presented. Coincidently, just last month, the first ever sun stone (right sized piece of Iceland Spar) was found on a historic wreck. Although the wreck was from late 16th century, it is still quite an exciting find, as are the details of its location within the vessel.


Other new sections coming are Library and Inet Connections
Online learning coming soon

Online courses and a much expanded and updated set on online resources will be available by the end of January... we hope. The online courses and new resources will be free to all starpath customers and students, but you will have to use a product serial number to access them.

If you might be interested in online learning, with direct access to an instructor, using the same materials we use in our home study and classroom courses, please check this site periodically. There will be a maximum enrollment for each course. We will offer the full set of all of our courses, but at least for the first round, they will be one at a time. Full info will be posted shortly.


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