Practical Navigation for the Modern Boat Owner
Pat Manley
Wiley Nautical
ISBN 978-0-470-51613-3 [BROKEN LINK]
Rec. price UK £19.99, USA $39.95

Wiley Nautical has recently published a number of “how-to” books for the benefit of cruising sailors, and this latest offering is by far the most useful. The ease and precision of current navigational systems has made the task of sailors both safer and less stressful than in the bad old days of astronavigation, radio direction finding, dead reckoning, etc. Until the relatively recent arrival of satellite navigation the methods of fixing the position of a sailing vessel on the high seas had changed very little from the days of Captain Cook. Few authors could have tackled the task of unravelling the highly complex scene of current navigational systems better than Pat Manley, a keen sailor and former commercial airline pilot who got his flight navigator’s license in 1973 at the very point when the older, far less accurate systems, were being replaced by the more precise and user-friendly systems, of which some are still in use today.

Pat Manley gives the reader a detailed overview of all the systems currently in use, from GPS to AIS, and describes how each system works, how to use it and get the best out of it. However, the author highlights the danger of over-reliance on such electronics tools and points out some of their shortcomings. He also stresses the importance of having at least some knowledge of traditional navigation.

These last two points are well worth repeating, as the apparent simplicity of use of the current navigation systems is the main reason why too many sailors are nowadays tempted to set off on a voyage without enough practical experience. The fact that so many boats, both large and small, still get into trouble in spite of their skippers having all these wonderful gadgets at their disposal, shows that even in today’s world of electronics a keen pair of eyes and a good dose of common sense are still the most important factors that will ensure the safe completion of a voyage.