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254. Top Tips Tuesday - Beware the rollover on April 6th

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Back in the early seventies whilst working for Musto & Hyde as a trainee sailmaker I was asked by a sailing school friend of mine if I fancied helping him sail his dad's 36 foot steel yacht back from Esbjerg in Southern Denmark to Blyth Northumberland. As a dinghy racer I jumped at the chance of ‘broadening my horizon’ and so four of us set off on Pete’s dads yacht, three International 14 racers and one more experienced cruiser. For navigation we were relying on a Walker trailing log and an RDF radio direction finder. Well to cut a long story short the ‘string’ on the trailing log snapped ten miles out and as for the RDF, well we ended up at Flamborough Head some distance South! Nowadays with advances in electronics life aboard is a lot easier and, dare I say it, less stressful but please be aware of April 6th 2019 if your electronics are more than 10 years old!

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As I said above, with the likes of GPS and chart plotters, navigating can be a lot easier but beware as from what I understand if you have a GPS which is getting on in life (over ten years) and has not been subject to a firmware update, this rollover could cause stand-alone GPS receivers and systems using GPS chips to change by 19.7 years either in the past or future, thus generating errors in both the GPS position and time. However if onboard equipment has been installed after August 1999 or has regular firmware updates from the manufacturers , there will be minimal risk of an error occurring! Please note that not all products will rollover on April 6th 2019, some may rollover on a different date due to the implementation in the manufacturer’s firmware. The full text of Safety Bulletin 13 - GPS  Week Number Rollover can be obtained by clicking here.

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If, like me, you have a wash and a wear (and elderly back up hand held) onboard and it’s showing its age, rather like me, why not treat yourself to the Garmin GPS73 for what it costs at £140.95 it's a relatively cheap back up and should you decide maybe to go ‘off piste’ when out walking in say the Lake District it will help keep you on the straight and narrow and maybe lead you to your favourite pub!

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