Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ocean-going Nav Station

Several things will come to mind after a trip across the ocean in a small boat. First the seat. A curved one like this (A) is easy to build and then you are sitting up when heeled, but you still need the foot rest (B) so you can pin your thighs against the bottom of the chart table to stay in place.

The idea of a bungee cord across the top of the table (F) was discovered as a last minute rule beater in an ocean race safety inspection, but turned out to be a great solution i use all the time now.  It not only holds the chart table lid down but you can put books and charts or a laptop under it to hold them in place. To get into the table, just pull it aside. It would seem to be in the way, but it is not.

Pencils and tools holders (D) and (E) are essential. We need our tools outside of the table where they are easily accessible. Put another way, make a rule that absolutely nothing goes in the nav station except your stuff.  Then when it does fill to overflowing with random stuff from everyone, just forget about it. But most of all, do not depend on that space. Let folks use it for whatever they want. You won't be able to find what you need in there, not to mention the lid blocks the light when you lift it, which is a good reminder that you need to always have a pencil flashlight in the pencil holder for reading instruments at night and so on.

A roll-up screen (C) is valuable for blocking the light at night and also for keeping the water off the chart table in rough conditions. I have seen one rig that had two, one transparent plastic, the other solid for night work.

One could image using low lights or custom lights for this night work at night, but often a lot of work has to be done at night and good lighting helps…. but still we do not want to risk getting any light into the eyes of the helmsman.  Sometimes  light will get out of the port light and reflect off of the hull, so the port light has to be covered. (Red lights are useless for navigation. You can't see anything and colors are distorted. It is a myth that red protects night vision. Intensity is the main factor. Red is just usually dim. An equally dim white light would be just as protective.)

And a small fan (G) is a nice luxury in the tropics, since everyone else can be out on deck when the poor navigator has to sit at the table and work, sometimes in very hot conditions.

Not shown is a set of head phones for listening to the radio without disturbing the rest of the crew. Very valuable… as is a piece of rubber non-skid for under the laptop.

We have an extended article on the navigation station and its related tools and nuances in both our Celestial Navigation and our Inland and Coastal Navigation textbooks.

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