GPS - Journey to Everywhere

April 14, 2019


Where do you want to go? Just plug the information into your GPS device and the voice on the other end begins to speak to you, turn by turn directions to your intended destination. Factor in user preferences, multiple routes, even the different types of views and map orientation, plus many more options. That’s a reasonable and fair description of what is commonplace now, regardless of application in a vehicle, boat, or aircraft. Imagine what the near future holds for GPS and multi-function displays that will receive the broadcast of reliable guidance from space orbit…and other technology platforms.


This commentary is specific to the Global Positioning System, GPS, as it pertains to the maritime realm. There is a very interesting time-line you can read on the link below from another professional blogger that just about sums it up in a few pages answering when, how, and who was responsible for this remarkable innovation of geographic position finding capability;


Beginning with Sputnik in the late 50’s, then progressing to the military, especially the U.S. Navy. Access to the system was finally made available to the public during the latter period of President Clinton’s time in office. It has definitely become one of the main components in our society for an immense variety of applications and utility.  


There is another side to this incredible advancement in capability with marine navigation that has a not-so-positive image. It all seems to be made possible because of over-reliance by the operator applying one sensor or standard to safely pilot a watercraft, big, small, and all others in between. Highly recommend you fully understand your GPS system and complete utilization of all the available features. It will serve to protect by providing precise geographic information and other control data at extremely fast intervals. If you have questions or want to know more about advanced maritime technology please contact me and I can assist you in that search.


With all that high tech, it is always accurate. That is actually not a completely correct statement, although the large number of operators believe it is valid. Even history records some users complained years ago, the Government was intentionally adjusting the data, giving less than accurate geographic position with GPS. In today’s modern world of transportation there is  the possibility that navigational fixes by satellite might have some error. There are numerous variables that may also have influence in the way the receiver is designed, if the latest software updates are installed, or the Multi-Function Display is legacy.   


Why look out from the helm at the surrounding area when I can just rely on my GPS?

That frequently happens and it all falls back to the mandate clearly stated in the Rules of the Road, Rule 5 – Look-out   § 83.05 Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.


There is a very rapid, ever expanding evolution of navigational devices in the marketplace. They come in all shapes, sizes, with the ability to deliver lightning quick positional information and direction to just about any place on Earth. Now you really can,



…Journey to Everywhere









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