Monday, September 15, 2008

Nearly best sailing invention - ever!

Tillerman's planning on giving not just one but the top five best sailing inventions, which naturally got me wondering what mine would be. Of course the best ever is the triangular sail, so that leaves just four to find.

To make it interesting I decided to not post any that I'd read elsewhere. So no bowlines and no breathable oilies - even though both are brilliant.

The running up four, from 5 down to 2, are:

5) Winches - they have gears and can self-tail, and sit all shiny and compact on every yacht. We couldn't wind in a fully loaded sail without them.

4) Depth sounder - when we crossed the Atlantic we had an electrical failure that wiped out our instruments. Mostly we could do with out them, having the windex and compass. But nearer the coast sailing without an idea of how much water there is under the keel would have been almost impossible.

3) Tell tails - great and so simple. Couple of bits of string attached either side of the sail and you can learn so much from them about how to trim it - brilliant!

2) Compass - fixed into the mind of the sailor is basic orientation, wondering where is north? where is the wind coming from? what course to sail. How can the compass not be on the list?


Tillerman said...

Good ones. I thought of writing about telltales and the compass too. But nobody has come up with any of my top five yet.

JP said...


Looking forward to your top five

The Natural Navigator said...

I agree with your choice of compass JP, but it didn't meet with instant approval. There is an account about a 12th Century Chinese trading vessel where they had a 'south pointing needle', but they only used it when it was cloudy. I'm a bit biased obviously, but I love spotting moments in history when the change from natural to instrumental navigation was happening.

JP said...

I'm looking forward to hearing waht counts as "natural" navigation.

Is a compass included as it uses the natural magnetic field? The tables used together with the sextant to get a fix are derived after much mathematical process - how much is too much?

One non-natural but useful navigation tip for urban areas is to use satellite dish pointing direction as a compass - most are aimed at Sky satellite which is roughly south south east.