Practical Boat Owner’s current issue goes to great lengths to praise the qualities of the Sigma 362. It is given three whole pages of an 8 page article on the best cruiser-racers to adapt to cruising.
That’s quite an accolade for a 1980s design that was last built in the early ’90s.
The article’s premise is simple: boats designed with racing in mind go well to windward. Why shouldn’t sailing upwind be a pleasure instead of the penance it can often be in a boat designed only for cruising? Sailors who avoid racing designs could be missing the extra pleasure that comes from a boat that sails well in all wind directions.
That’s exactly why we bought our Sigma 362, Spring Fever, and it’s good to have it confirmed by a well known racing name from the years when Sigmas were designed and built. The author is Peter Poland, who was also builder of many popular racing boats in the ’70s and ’80s, including the Sonata and Impala.
The British government turns out to have been ahead of the game on the satellite risks I mentioned last month, with a £36 million programme just announced to prevent navigational satellite failures damaging the economy by as much as £1 billion a day. It is feared that the entire country has become over-dependent on a handful of satellite systems.
Emergency services, the energy grid, mobile phones, Satnav, broadcasting and other communications, the Stock Exchange and an array of other activities all rely heavily on the super-accurate timing provided now by navigational satellites such as GPS and similar systems. There are life-threatening risks from failure, says the government.An image of a third generation Lockheed Martin GPS satellite
The new investment is in a National Timing Centre to create a network of super-accurate atomic clocks around the UK, accessed through ground-based communications, so that the economy will no longer be over-reliant on timing from GNSS signals from the sky.
GNSS is the term that embraces the US GPS, the first system, Russia’s GLONASS satellites, Europe’s new Galileo and also a rapidly developing Chinese system.
Galileo failed completely for a while last year during its start up phase, because of operator errors, and there are now many examples of interference with GNSS systems and malicious ‘spoofing’, in which navigation instruments are fooled into thinking they are somewhere else. The heart of all navigation by satellite is accurate timing, without which positions cannot be fixed.
At the Royal Institute of Navigation’s small boat conference in Lymington earlier this month, I learnt a lot about new risks of error in satellite navigation : I did not know, for example, that it is possible with quite cheap local equipment to fool the GPS on a plane, ship or even a missile into thinking it is somewhere other than its real position.
There are now tens of thousands of reported incidents of errors, deliberate, accidental or of unknown cause, with a substantial number of them unsurprisingly in sensitive areas such as the Gulf, and the Black Sea near Ukraine, suspected to be hostile activity.
Reports of accidental errors include a couple of local failures when US naval vessels arrived in the port of San Diego, apparently forgetting to switch off unspecified electronic equipment, which interfered with satellite-derived positions for miles around.