Practical advice for all sailors. Tom Cunliffe has sailed tens of thousands of miles all over the world and has been a Yachtmaster Examiner since 1978

I’ve often been disappointed at how long some Yachtmaster students take to plan and plot a three-point fix. ‘Back in the day’, this routine chartwork took a couple of minutes. If it requires more than five, I’d recommend having a look at your techniques, because the time may yet come when the old ways are needed. Part of the problem is lack of facility with the hand-bearing compass, and we’re all in the same boat.

I keep in trim by rattling off a few bearings every so often. To vary things, I sometimes plot them electronically. This won’t work on a bulkhead plotter because few of these allow more than one line to be left on the screen at a time. My PC, running Meridian software, lets me plot as many as I like, which means the charts are still 100% useful in the event of GPS meltdown.