On Celestial Navigation

As a Mariner, who sails on modern vessels, most of our navigation is not only reliant on the global positioning system but electronic charts. The ships now can have the option of carrying no paper charts at all, relying on a primary and a secondary Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).

There is nothing inherently wrong with the use of ECDIS; I have sailed on many ships that were “ECDIS compliant.” Meaning that they met the carriage requirements for a primary and secondary systems that were not required to carry paper charts.

The main problem with the reliance on ECDIS systems is that the mariner must take care to maintain and hone their skills – the old way of navigation. They must take the time to learn the identification of the stars. To practice taking positions by them. Checking the compasses, maintaining their charting skills – it happens that these systems that we rely on can fail. When they do, we must be ready to take over.

These skills are like a dying language, without practice the next generation will have difficulty and the generation after that will not be able to speak it at all.

I try to take the stars, whenever they are clear to take and the traffic permits, not only to check the GPS position but to hone my craft – practicing the Art of Navigation.

If you would like help learning Cel Nav. or have specific questions regarding it. Please comment – join the discussion or contact me.

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Article by Jaquie

CEO of Coeval, Inc. and a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2008 with a degree in Maritime Operations and Technology. Currently USCG Approved Instructor. She has worked primarily on Liquefied Natural Gas Vessels completing, conventional loads and discharges, Ship to Ship transfers, commissionings, and Regasification through APL Systems and HP Manifolds. She has also worked aboard, Pure-Car Carriers, Product Tankers, General Cargo, and Bulk Grain Vessels. She currently holds an Unlimited Chief Mates Licence issued by the United States Coast Guard. With the following endorsements: Certified Person in Charge (PIC) for the transfer of Dangerous Liquids and Liquified Gas, Certified Person in Charge of Medical Care aboard ship, Lifeboatman-Fast Rescue Boats, GMDSS, Vessel Security Officer, Crowd Control and Crisis Management, Qualified Member of the Engineering Department and Jr. Engineer.