There’s nothing like learning celestial navigation and seamanship at sea aboard a big schooner. That’s why Ocean Navigator is excited to announce a new joint effort with Schooner Virginia to provide celestial navigation and seamanship seminars on selected Schooner Virginia trips. The first of these trips sails from Charleston to Bermuda, departing Wednesday, Nov. 11 and arriving in Bermuda Friday, Nov. 20. I will be aboard as the celestial navigation instructor. Sign up soon while there are still bunks available. Every graduate of the trip will get an Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship (ONSOS) diploma which qualifies them to navigate in the Marion-Bermuda Race.
This joint effort by Ocean Navigator and the Schooner Virginia revives a great tradition of ONSOS teaching voyages aboard schooners. In the past we’ve given seminars aboard the schooners Westward, Spirit of Massachusetts, Corwith Cramer, Californian and, of course, our own Ocean Star. Many of our readers sailed aboard Ocean Star and saw it regularly at the Annapolis Boat Show. The steel Ocean Star carried hundreds of navigation students on a wide variety of trips both coastwise and blue water. We had students from every part of the country and even from other parts of the world. I once taught celestial navigation on Ocean Star to three Japanese sailors who came aboard with an American friend who lived in Japan. He was able to translate the concepts of height of eye and Greenwich Hour Angle into Japanese. I could get a sense of their level of understanding from their eyes, nodding heads and emphatic declarations of “hai, hai!”
The connection to Ocean Star extends to one of the present captains of Virginia, Stefan Edick. Capt. Edick sailed aboard Ocean Star as a crewmember. In fact, he started on Ocean Star as cook. “I sailed in 1994 and 1995 in Ocean Star (as cook, a position I undertook mostly to gain access to the celestial training and the offshore opportunity). Virginia Wagner and Cameron Bright were the captains, and Virginia, especially, often doubled as the instructor. Did several trips to and from Bermuda, a passage to Grand Cayman, and a bunch of work out of Key West. Ocean Star is where I first learned celestial navigation, radar operation, and coast piloting. When I’m teaching, I draw upon that experience in virtually every lesson.”
The benefits of learning navigation on schooners like Ocean Star and Virginia are easy to grasp. Unlike the more abstract approach of learning in a classroom, instruction at sea is wonderfully hands on. Not only do you get the opportunity to shoot the sun, moon, planets and stars from a moving deck, you can also appreciate how celestial navigation compliments and augments dead reckoning, radar navigation and even electronic navigation. More than strictly navigation, students on board Schooner Virginia also have the opportunity to participate in the proper running of a vessel at sea. Observing the experienced captains and mates who operate Schooner Virginia is enormously helpful to voyagers in learning how to run their own vessels.
These unmatched benefits and more (did I mention how great it is to have a full-time cook aboard? Plan to gain a few pounds.) make at-sea navigation seminars a must both for beginning voyagers or those wanting to brush up their skills.
In addition to cooperating on schooner trips, Schooner Virginia captains and crew will also contribute to ON’s Running Fix blog, and provide valuable insight to both articles in the magazine and to the Ocean Navigator Web site on such subjects as navigation, seamanship, sail handling, electronics, electrical systems, engines, and more.
To sign up for this or another trip, go to the Schooner Virginia Web site: www.schoonervirginia.org or call (757) 627-7400.
Ocean Navigator editor