The Importance of Navigation

Good navigation is so important. If you don’t keep a detailed watch on your position, things can go very wrong.

Good navigation can feature in all aspects of life. My navigation exercises start before I reach the coast. When I head off for a weeks training course, I plan my route and the time I will slip lines ( leave my drive).

My journey to Gosport takes me through Oxford. The traffic in Oxford is awful. So my first consideration is the tidal gate of Oxford. What time can I go through Oxford. I then work backwards to get a departure time.

During the journey, always look out for navigation lights. Sometimes these are red, sometimes green and as I drive down, they can even be yellow. These don’t have to be left to port or starboard though.

Always take a bearing at landmarks so you know your position at all times. Service stations are good for this and can make a useful port of refuge should the traffic build up to Beaufort traffic 10 or provisions run out ( get cross with the victualler). With no heads in the car, marking on your pilotage all the washrooms is a necessity.

Relying on the Chart Plotter (Sat Nav) is a bad idea. Mine has sent me on a figure of 8, has sent me miles out of my way and tells me to turn left when I should be turning right. Digging the charts out of the back seat pocket is an important part of good navigation and your teenagers will be horrified you are using something without a battery.

I had thought navigation was only necessary when I was in charge of aiming the yacht/car, but I have learnt my lesson.

Good navigation is essential at all times. When travelling on a train from London to Milton Keynes on a Virgin Train, a 30minute journey, I forgot all my basic navigation. I didn’t take any bearings and didn’t look at the log or the time. The train slowed outside Milton Keynes due to a signal problem. A little later, I made my way down the current of passengers to the hatch ready to hop onto the pontoon (platform). Only to find the train speed increasing and increasing. I can’t see a station and have no bearings. With a heavy heart, I realised I must have drifted through Milton Keynes station. Maybe the anchor dragged. And I was speeding towards the next port Stoke on Trent. One hour later I am on the pontoon at Stoke on Trent station ready to catch a train back to Milton Keynes for another hour.

Luckily the track was smooth, almost no waves and the wind was good. We made excellent progress back to Milton Keynes. I was starving and had a severe caffeine deficiency due to a lack of provisions.

So what did I learn from my little detour?

1. Virgin trains are really smart but these two were packed.

2. Use navigation at all times and always have a passage plan.

3. Victual for longer than you think, you never know when you might get blown way off course to the wrong station.

4. Its better to sail everywhere, then its impossible to end up in Stoke on Trent.

5 Brockmans Gin, gin is always the answer.

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Happy Christmas

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