Emergency NavigationOct 3, 2008
Emergency Navigation: Find Your Position and Shape Your Course at Sea Even If Your Instruments Fail
By David Burch
International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2008,
There’s little debate that modern marine electronics make going to sea easier and safer for the modern sailor. There is, however, a dark side to the convenience and all those glowing LEDs in the pilothouse. Electronics can and do fail, often at an inopportune time. The consequences of such failures can be catastrophic whether you are 5 or 500 miles from shore.
Our unquestioning faith on accurate and reliable navigation electronics has led to a dangerous complacency that we are all guilty of to some degree. David Burch’s second edition of his book, Emergency Navigation, serves as a wakeup call.
As founder and president of the Starpath School of Navigation (www.starpath.com) and as the author of nine books on navigation, Burch is uniquely qualified for the task. The book isn’t a survival or seamanship manual. Rather, it’s a very readable how-to text that is restricted to navigation and meant for both the novice and saltiest of navigators. Burch walks the reader through techniques, some simple and others more complex, for finding your position anywhere in the world should your nav gadgets fail. Burch explains the importance of accurate time keeping, steering by the sun, stars, wind and swells, estimating current and leeway, finding the sun in a fog bank, determining position and speed using the most rudimentary of devices and much more.
The book provides the tools needed to determine position, but will be up to the navigator to learn to use them and practice these techniques if an accurate position is to be established when the lights go dim.