More needful stuff…

Did you know that Dung beetles can navigate using the stars? You might want to remember that when someone tells you celestial navigation is an esoteric art too difficult to learn.

So, with that little factoid bouncing around your brain pan, maybe we should look at needful navigation stuff for the VolksCruising set…

Obviously, being on a VolksCruiser budget, the cost of such things is going to be an important factor right along with utility. On a side note, you should easily be able to outfit your boat from scratch for less than $1000 and a lot less if you’re canny and take advantage of the perfectly good stuff that came with your boat.

So, first things first, you really need a watch. It has to keep accurate time but does not have to cost a silly amount of money. I happen to use a sub-$20 Casio and it does everything needful.

You’ll also need a way to figure out how fast your boat is going. I have to say I’m just not a big fan of paddlewheel log units. I’ve never had a boat where they did not give me trouble when I really needed them to not give problems which might account why I still feel that trailing logs of one sort or another make a lot more sense than people give them credit for. That said, it is expected you’ll have an electronic speed/log and the one that came on your boat, if it works, is as good as you need but take my advice and get something like the Knotstick as a backup (it’s what I use).

You also need a depth sounder of some sort and it’s not just a tool to keep you from going aground or checking the depth in an anchorage. A lot of folks don’t realize just how handy a navigation tool a depth sounder can be for doing stuff like running depth contours and suchlike. Personally, if my old depth sounder were to die (it’s a Raymarine so there’s a pretty good chance it will sooner rather than later), I’d replace it with a fishfinder (like this one) because they tend to be cheap and add a level of information that is useful.

Of course, since we actually do live in the future and contrary to the popular misconception that I’m a card-carrying Luddite, I’ll go out on a limb and say that a handheld GPS is no bad thing to have since you can buy them for a hundred dollars or so. You might even want to buy one for a back up while you’re at it…

As long as we’re talking advanced electronics for the frugal set, I might as well broach the subject of chart plotters (and I expect dear Ned Ludd is now spinning like a top wherever he rests) because these days with the costs of paper charts so high it makes a lot of sense to invest in an affordable (let’s define that as under $500) chart plotter that will run affordable charts or, better yet, some sort of cheap pad or tablet with an navigation application that has really cheap chart coverage.

Lastly, you still do really need a cheap sextant because, as every good dung beetle knows, shit can happen…

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