Seattle, WA   December , Number 18

Navigation Foundation News

We have completed the production of the electronic archive of all back issues of the Navigator's Newsletter, the quarterly publication of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation. The CD or download is available to all interested parties at Newsletter Archive. Foundation members can purchase it at a discount. There is also an option there for joining the Foundation.


Government Locks in Seattle connect Puget Sound to Lake Washington via the "ship canal".
"New" website for the Ballard Locks

Since the USCG and the Corps of Engineers became part of the Homeland Security Dept, it has been almost impossible to find the links we used to use so often. They changed all of them. But in the case of the "Ballard Locks," just down the road from us, once we did find the site, it was a wonderful surprise. They have added 4 videos and much text that explains procedures for going through the locks and a lot more background info on the park, services, fish ladder and more. When we first found this site in Jan 1, 06, they had a counter on it that shows the last visit was mid May of 2005. Which is quite a pity since it is so informative. Anyone planning to transit the locks for the first time will benefit much from the information and videos there... Also if you plan to go through the Panama Canal, it would also pay to watch the video on the "large locks," since procedures and experience are not much different here. See Ballard Locks Navigation page,


the starpath elibra logo
All about ebooks...

For some time now, Starpath has been producing course materials and reference books in ebook format using our own new elibra system. We do this for our own materials and for other schools and authors. Since the use of ebooks is still new to many, we have written a series of short articles to familiarize readers and prospective publishers with the role of ebooks from various perspectives. If this is a subject that might interest you, the articles are available starting at The Role of ebooks in the world of print publications.


Google Earth — in a word, amazing!

Many areas of human endeavor have been changed dramatically and permanently with this new program and service from Google. If you have not tried it and have the computer and broadband connection to do it, you will be amazed. It is Mapquest on steroids.

Go to any place on earth—again, that is any place on earth—and start zooming in. Then note you are getting high precision Lat/Lon as you meander along the streets and buildings of the place you chose, or as you follow a river, or check the inbound and outbound entrance lanes to the Suez Canal, or find the pyramids, or the shortest route from the Gare Montparnesse to the Eiffel Tower and what the buildings will look like along the way, and how many miles it is. There is also a route tool to measure distance along a path... and more.

Zoom in on the docks of the marina in some small bay in the middle of nowhere before you go to see what it will be like. Lay out your trip in miles counting every turn through the islands. Head north and follow the Northwest passage across Canada, or on around across cape Chelyuskin (northernmost point of Eurasia). If you have an interest in geography of the desert, of jungles, of cities, of anything, you can spend hours with this product, not to mention its value in navigation planning for areas you have not visited before. Sailing to Hawaii or the Canary Islands, just check it out to see what the bays and marinas look like ahead of time, or where the towns are relative to the marinas, and so on. Check elevations as well as distances. (We have since noted that the islands in Polynesia are of course all there, but they do not have hi-res imagery for that region, which is one of the few exceptions for now.)

To benefit best from the program you need a new, high-powered computer, but it will work on, say, 1 GHz machine with 256 MB of RAM... and broadband connection is required. Might get a hint of what it is like with less power, but to really enjoy it, the more powerful the computer the better. After some testing, you might well consider the use of this resource as reason enough to go that extra step in specs on your next computer.

...and we are talking here about the free version of Google Earth. We do not know what is in the pay version—nor how long there will be a free version. The free version is called "beta," which is some hint that when the testing is done there might be only a commercial product.

See Google Earth.


NOAA digital raster charts now public domain

The US raster charts of US waters that we all use in our electronic navigation programs (in addition to the vector charts we might use) used to be only available for purchase from MapTech or Softchart. These charts in the bsb format are now all available as a free download from NOAA. The link to read about them and download them is the main NOAA Chartmaker site. There is a headline there with the links... not to mention the many other wonderful resources at this site. They became available as of Nov 18th to our knowledge.

The files are provided in a zipped file of several related chart files. We do not yet know which of these related files are actually required to install the charts into your specific chart program (at least tow of them are), but if you unzip all of them into one folder then navigate to that folder from the "install (or register) new charts" option in your charting program, the program will take the ones it needs and the chart will be available to you.

We have been told by NOAA that these online charts will be kept up to date, so if there is any doubt at some point in the future, just download the latest. The two we tested were both the latest editions. So if you have been navigating with old electronic charts primarily because of the cost to upgrade, now you can fix all that in a few minutes. Likewise, if you have not yet tried electronic charting systems (ECS) in your own navigation, now is an ideal time to start. Most of the charting programs available have a demo version that can be used for testing. Even if you do not have or desire the ECS capability onboard, the extreme value of this system for planning at home will way more than compensate for the trouble it takes to get involved.


Engineer's Library
Engineer's Library Now Available

This single CD includes elibra ebook editions of 50 volumes of books and self-study courses on all aspects of marine engineering. Access to the products is also available by download at a reduced cost. Each book is searchable for word or phrase with our unique Search/Find-all presentation of the context of each find.

Learn More


Taking a Sextant Sight
Enrollment has begun for April Onboard Courses.

Please read the letters from past participants.

Join us for underway navigation training aboard the F/V Aimee O... with excellent food and beverages, wonderful scenery, real-world navigation training and experience along some of the world's most renowned waterways onboard a modern commercial fishing vessel during her off season from fishing. Learn More


Another attack on the National Weather Service

Here is a noonsite article about a senator trying to make serious modifications of the weather service in favor of private weather companies.

noonsite news

Read full bill here National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005 (S-786)


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