Open Water Navigation

It was disappointing that the radar had to fail for most of the crossing. We have been having issues with it the last few weeks, so it was not a surprise, but we’re thankful that visibility was adequate most of the time. Any larger commercial boat would show up on AIS, which still works fine. Our AIS transmit helped us when I was messing with the navigation menus on our controls. Hallelujah, about a mile behind us, called to ask why we were heading west. It was completely dark by then and I must have done something to kick the autopilot off. They had seen me going the wrong way on their receive only AIS. I do scan the controls regularly and would have found the problem myself, but they did save me of going completely the wrong way for longer than would have been convenient.

We shouldn’t need the radar now for awhile. We’ll get it fixed and completely checked out in January, when some other work is to be done as well.

We have a physical compass on the bridge. It read around 150 the whole time. In the old days we would be continually manning the wheel while we watched the compass, keeping it as close to that reading while the boat pitches here and there in the waves. When we saw land again we would have consulted our paper charts to see what landmarks, like smokestacks, radio towers and large factories, would tell us where exactly we were. This would have been difficult where we actually did see land, since it was all waterfront homes and condos, pretty much the same for miles. We may not have what it takes to be ancient mariners.

We are exited about getting out on the open Gulf and Caribbean area. Over the next few years we want to explore places in the Bahamas and go as far as the Dominican Republic. Cuba is an interesting future possibility. We’ll have to see how it develops. We won’t be the first American boaters to get there, but it’s only 90 miles from Key West, so why not?


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