Seattle, WA   December , Number 17

Nautical Almanac gets refraction update

We recently found this notice on the US Power Squadrons Offshore Navigation Committee webpage:

"U. S. Naval Observatory has confirmed to the Offshore Navigation Committee that the values for Altitude Corrections in the 2004 Nautical Almanac have been slightly revised from earlier years. The changes are due to a recalculation of refraction and affect the corrections for all bodies. The Almanac pages affected are A2, A3, A4, xxxiv, and xxxv. Except for the additional corrections for planets on page A2, these pages have been considered permanent pages that do not change from year to year. With this recalculation they are still considered permanent and are not expected to change again in the foreseeable future.

The changes on page A2 for the Sun, Stars and Planets are limited to 0.1 and because of the way the tables are arranged will be noticed in only a limited number of cases. Page A2 for altitudes 0-10 has changes of up to 0.7 at 0 altitude but only spotty changes of 0.1 above 2 altitude. Page A4 for non-standard conditions has been redrawn and another column added to the table of corrections. This is where the majority of differences will be found. The changes to the moon corrections on pages xxxiv and xxxv are limited to altitudes below 4 degrees, and are 0.7 at 0 altitude. These changes have an insignificant effect on practical navigation, but may cause the values obtained to be slightly different than if the previous almanacs were used."


Restricted zones arround large vessels
How close is too close?

We have articles on this subject in our study materials relating to the Rules of the Road when interacting with large vessels. We must admit now, though, that some of this advice is not as thorough as it should be in the light of new national security issues. There are new laws now that govern how close we might approach a large passenger vessel, tanker, or navy vessel, and these are not related to the rules of the road. And penalties are high for violating them, and as always ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Please see the USCG Port Safety and Security announcement. The short summary is do not approach at all within 100 yards on any side, and in the range of 500 yards to 100 yards slow to a speed of bare steerage... but don't leave it at that. Please read the article. There are other restictions about various port areas that did not apply earlier that have equally strong restrictions.


BC Weather Services pamphlet

This pamphlet from Eenvironment Canada is equivalent to the US Marine Weather Services Charts and just as valuable for traveling in BC waters. It is hard to find in print in the US, and they do not make an electronic version, so we have made this one available to mariners ourselves. They have a different procedure of reporting buoy data in a separate sequence from lighthouse data, so having the maps and lists of reportaing stations here is very valuable. Find it in the Resources section under Miscellaneous / Weather.


Bjorn Nilsson of BN Marine Electronics demonstrating the Radar Trainer at the Stockholm Boat Show
Swedish Radar Trainer program

We are very pleased to announce that a Swedish adaption of the Starpath Radar Trainer study package has been prepared by Hans Erlandsson and Associates and introduced at the Stockholm Boat Show (March 3-7, 2005). Besides the Radar Trainer simulator, the package includes a copy of Radar for Mariners, a custom landmass scenario(Dalaro approach to Stockholm) for the simulator, and a unique new Radar Workbook in Swedish. See link above for more details. We look forward to working with mariners in Sweden and throughout Scandanavia.


Discussion groups now open to public viewing

We have changed our policy on the online discussion groups. In the past these could only be seen by those with a registered WebCard. Now anyone can see and read the discussion, but you cannot participate unless you have registered.

Webcards are free to Starpath customers. Use any qualifying serial number. See Get WebCard.


Originally a government publication used by many mariners for cruising, racing, fishing, and transiting Puget Sound.
Puget Sound Tidal Current Charts

Starpath is pleased to announce its new publication of the Puget Sound Current Charts. These have been out of print for quite a few years now and no one seems to have picked up the ball, so with multiple requests we have done this ourselves. They are used cruising, racing, fishing, and transiting Puget Sound. They will sell for $12.95.


The new TI-Titanium replaces TI-89
StarPilot updated

The StarPilot-PC version and the StarPilot-89 calculator versions have been updated and new programs are online now that can be downloaded and installed. No further registration is required, but for the calculator updates you will need the appropriate cable that links PC to calculator.

The updates include (1) new constants for the magnetic variation computations, now valid from 2005 to 2010 (these are published in December every 5 years), (2) fixed a bug in the reported values of Equation of time in the Sun daily data (ie cel bodies/Sun/LAN etc) which presented values that were off a few seconds (although the computations done in the actual sight reductions and other presentations did not have this discrepancy), and (3) increased the precision of the output of the distance off by two angles piloting technique since this method of doing a running fix is far more accurate than was previously displayed. There is an article about this technique (digital running fixes) in the General Navigation Discussion Group.

The other news is we are now selling the StarPilot-89 calculator in the new TI Titanium model at the same price as the standarTI-89. This price will eventually go up by 30$ since they have discontinued the standard 89 and will soon raise our price for the new model after this introductory promotion is over.


FV Aimee O at anchor
New onboard course route

Our onboard training cruises along the Inside Passage to Alaska have always been a wonderful learning experience, enjoyed by all. Next year (April-May, 2005) we will be adding a new leg to the route, which we call "The Narrows of SE Alaska," course N2. It will include the same level of hands on boat handling and navigation training, but along even more remote, exciting waterways, rarely seen by other vessels. See On board courses. We have also added a "cabin price" that makes the course and cruise even more economical for couples or families.


Video on octant use

Starpath director David Burch has recently made a video in collaboration with the Seattle Art Museum on how to use an octant. The video is part of museum's grand new exhibit of Spanish Exploration. Use of an octant is not much different from use of a sextant, so those interested in seeing the basics of the process can do so here: How to use an octant. The one we used here was a late 1700's model borrowed from Seattle's Museum of History and Industry, where the actual video was filmed.


paperback, 250 pages
Radar for Mariners now available

After 3 years in the preparation, our new book on radar is now available. You can read about it at Radar for Mariners. We will use it in our online course on marine radar.


<< Previous Edition -- Next Edition >>