• Brad Swain

Navigation by Carrier Bag!

Any one who has ventured to unknown ports, particularly in foreign parts where you can't speak the language to ask the way will know the problems of finding a supermarket for re provisioning. Over more years of voyaging than I like to think about, sailing into many ports in many countries we have honed a navigation technique that has served us well. We just head into town and as soon as we spot someone carrying a full supermarket carrier bag we walk in the opposite direction to them until we spot someone else with a full bag of shopping and do the same. People generally do not walk far carrying heavy bags so it is never long before we find the supermarket they are walking from. The down side of this technique is plotting the reciprocal course. It is all too easy to become fixated by the navigation exercise to find the supermarket and not think about the return trip. A few years ago when we were newer to voyaging, long distance yachties used to be a particular type of person. Generally voyaging on a fairly limited budget in small boats with similar storage and basic facilities. It was therefore fairly easy to spot yachties employing the same 'navigation by carrier bag' techniques as us and reverse our course back to the harbour. The problem for us and other modern yachties is that both boats and budgets have moved on. Now days they sail large plastic yachts with large water tanks and/or water makers, hot water and cavernous dry lockers. Their attire is no longer stored tied up in plastic bags in damp lockers so there is no haze of must or mould or general decay to follow and the quantities carried (or the budget) mean they are not repairing and patching them with bits of old sail cloth. This means it is almost impossible to pick out the impecunious yachty land marks that once aided our navigation back to port. Having resisted moving into the 21st century at sea by sticking to paper charts and Bretton plotters I am being forced to get out the smart phone and GPS to navigate when on land!!!

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