May I begin by wishing you all a belated happy and prosperous 2014. Some outstanding results from Southern Cross old boys/girls in this year’s Sydney to Hobart Race! Firstly, well done to Tam Faragher and the crew on Kerumba with their magnificent 6th overall and 2nd in Division and 5th in ORiC. They sailed a faultless race and deserve every success after a long and determined preparation of this boat. Enjoy the cruise home Tam, you have earned it. (And as Tam, Jonesy and Scotty did their first offshore race with Southern Cross 12 years ago, we are taking full credit).  We were also privileged to be involved in the training of the Mates4Mates crew aboard the Volvo 60 ‘Spirit of Mateship’ Skippered by Russell McCart.  Sponsored by the QLD RSL, this group of returned servicemen and women had never stepped foot on a yacht 6 weeks ago and along with a core of experienced sailors won PHS overall. Congratulations to all.

The 31st of December 2013 was somewhat of a watershed moment for me as, for the last time ever, I looked the tides up in a printed, paper Tide Book. Yes gentle reader, there are no more tide books printed in Queensland. And that’s not all. With the closure of the government printing office, there will be no more ‘Beacon to Beacon’ or, most troubling of all, MSQ ‘Boating Safety Charts’.

For we Moreton Bay dwellers this means there is no paper navigation information of a useable scale between Coochiemudlo Island and the Gold Coast Seaway. We will all be Nintendo navigating as we peer into our phones, keeping the cartoon of our boat away from the cartoon of the sandbank. But we will at least know the exact location and name of the sandbank when we hit it. Which can be helpful I guess.

This is not just a local issue, but follows on from the North American charting agency’s (NOAA) announcement that they have ceased to print paper charts and as I understand it, the Admiralty are reviewing the future of their portfolio. Strange days indeed. The end of paper navigation is the most momentous event in the history of navigation. Since the Egyptian lads started sketching the sandbanks in the Nile they kept running into, on a piece of papyrus, we have been working out where we were by looking at a lump of paper. (Except for a few sage tellers and sheep’s entrails sifters of course, but have you noticed that there are not many of them around anymore?)

Despite being the Renaissance man that I am, I actually understand how this has come about. Doesn’t mean I condone it, but I get it. Take for instance your average offshore race crew these days.  With a crew of 8, there will be at least 12 GPS units on board with phones, iPads and the boat’s own units. That’s not a bad redundancy back up plan! I mean we didn’t take 12 copies of each chart with us did we?

And yes a wave down the hatch will most certainly wipe out any unprotected electrical devices; but it won’t do the 12 charts any good either. I also believe that a worldwide shutdown of the GPS system is up there with a Zombie Apocalypse as something to worry about….but damn it, I like charts!

There was something very salty about pulling out charts at dinner parties to regale people with inflated tales of ones daring do’s. I have several framed and hanging in my bar at home to save time when I am moved to tell a tale of past heroics. “There we were, in a gale from hell and…..”

But never fear Southern Cross Yachting shall continue to teach both paper and electronic navigation with a foot in each century. Because if you can only use a GPS you really can’t navigate can you. So join us and learn the soon to be ancient and lost art of paper navigation. Our next theory courses for Day Skipper is from 10 – 14 February 2014 and Coastal Skipper from 10 – 14 March 2014.  These 5 day intensive courses cost just $880.

That’s all for this edition, until next time, down load those apps!

Mike Job.

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