Location And Lighting

The location of the nav station doesn't really matter, A nav station is usually placed next to the com-panionway, which is good since you can talk back and forth to the cockpit from there. But this is also a very wet place, so it pays to have a spray curtain that hangs between you and the companionway. (figure i:C) This serves two purposes. First, it keeps your gear dry—or more precisely,

Without a doubt, the single most important aid to navigation is a pencil holder (for pencils, dividers and flashlight) and a holder for parallel rulers or plotter that is within arms reach in front of you, outside of the chart table limits the water on your charts to that which runs off of your own rain gear. Second, it blocks out the light so your work at night does not interfere with the helmsman.

This last point is an important one. The navigator has to work at night, but it is equally important that no light reach the cockpit. As you know, even the faintest light makes steering at night very difficult. Often, even stock steering compass lights are too bright. In short, it pays to think this through so you don't end up duct taping yourself into a cocoon.

As for the nav table lights themselves, I have never seen an "ideal" specialized nav table light. I refer here to the special lights of various designs intended to emit focused light or dim light or red light and so 011. The famous, standard gooseneck light, for example, is nearly useless since, gooseneck or not, you can't see the whole chart with it. Lift the chart table lid, and you can't see anything, A different, more expensive type that comes close to solving the problem is mounted on a pivot and is detachable for hand use. It has vari able intensity and a red light option. Perhaps two or three of these—one stored in a bag for hand use, since they can be difficult to get in and out of the pivot—might do the job, but it is not just a matter of buying one of these fancy lights and screwing it in wherever it seems to fit best. In any event, a 2xAAA flashlight (or equivalent) in the tools holder is a must for special use, such as reading dials, corners of a chart, etc.

For longer jobs, I prefer to put a fixed white light over the table and then cover the entire area in some way. For short jobs, a handheld flashlight works well provided it has a permanent home near the table so you can always find it when you need it. Individuals will likely differ on this, but I find it difficult to see pencil lines in red light. Also, the coloring on charts looks different in red light and takes some getting used to. Red light, by the way, has no special significance to protecting night vision. The main factor is intensity, and red lights are not bright, hence their value. A low level white light is just as good, and to me, preferable.

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