THE USE OF VOR FOR SMALL CRAFT NAVIGATION

John R. West

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Having listened with intense interest to speakers on this morning's session of the Institute of Navigation tell about developments of navigation satellites-about the use of outer space devices to guide aircraft, space ships and surface .vessels-I feel very humble in talking about the relatively simple and unexciting problem of small craft navigation. On the other hand, I take considerable pride in talking about the navigation of small vessels... because, while the scientists are literally shooting for the moon and developing highly sophisticated navigation and control systems to make this possible, the unglamorous fisherman is searching for the ocean's food products to feed the men and women working on satellite navigation; the plodding coastal tug is towing barge loads of lumber from northern ports to our area for the builders of homes and factories to house our growing population and expand our manufacturing facilities; the coastal tanker is delivering petroleum products to keep the wheels of transportation and industry moving; the research vessel operator is searching for new petroleum sources off our coastlines, new mineral sources to replace or augment the diminishing supplies ashore, or searching for practical ways to harvest food products from the ocean floor; and last but not least, the pleasure boat owner is enjoying the uncrowded vastness of our coastal waters. Every one of these groups-fishermen, towboat operators, coastal freighters and tankers, research vessel operator, pleasure boat owners-are dependent on the navigation aids NOW available. They cannot wait for future developments, but must make the best possible use of what is now at hand. Unfortunately there has been very little progress in the development of navigation equipment or systems to aid them-despite the vast steps forward in aircraft and space ship navigation systems. And from what I have heard today, there is little on the horizon for the small craft operator, in the line of improved systems or equipment. When asked to speak before your distinguished group on the subject of small craft navigation-which means generally coastal navigation as compared to long range off shore navigation-I was frank to say that there is virtually nothing new to discuss. We are still using the same magnetic compass that Columbus used; celestial navigation procedures are only slightly simplified over what Nathaniel Bowditch wrote about in the early 1800's; instead of a lead line, we do have electronic echo sounders; instead of radio beaxings being taken by shore based stations, we do have manual or automatic radio direction finders for shipboard use; we have radar, but we have had it for 15 years, so it cannot be considered new.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 13, Number 1
Pages: 80 - 87
Cite this article: West, John R., "THE USE OF VOR FOR SMALL CRAFT NAVIGATION", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring 1966, pp. 80-87.
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