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GREAT CIRCLE SAILING

Lindbergh Chart of the Great circle sailing chart of the North Atlantic Ocean 1926 SAK

Great circle sailing A great circle is a circle which cuts the a sphere into two equal halves and its centre is coincident with the centre of the sphere.

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Great circle sailing
Plane passing through centre of the sphere

Great circle

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Great circle sailing
The equator is a great circle. A Great circles cross the equator at two points 180 apart. All longitutes are great circle.

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Great circle sailing

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Great circle sailing
Show the great circles
P

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Great circle sailing
PA, PB, AB is an arc of Great circle PAB is an spherical triangle O is the centre of the sphere The lenght of side AB is angle AOB Angle O is not equal to angle P
P

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Great circle sailing
P=Elevated Pole (i.e. pole chosen for the triangle) Angle P=D.Long from A to B (E or W) Side PA=Angular distance of A from the Elevated Pole 'P'. For example if elevated pole is North Pole and A is in north latitude then PA = 90-LAT A. If elevated pole is North Pole and A is in south latitude then PA = 90 +LAT A. Equator Side PB = Angular distance of B from the Elevated Pole 'B' A P B

Vn

Vs
Prime meridian
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Great circle sailing
North elevated pole

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Great circle sailing
North elevated pole
P

The elevated pole chosen can be in either hemisphere.

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Great circle sailing
Equator South elevated pole

PB=90-Lat B

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Great circle sailing
South elevated pole
A

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Great circle sailing
South elevated pole

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To find distance AB: Cos AB = Cos P x Sin PB x Sin PA + Cos PB x Cos PA P is Elevated Pole (i.e. pole chosen for the triangle) Angle P = D.Long from A to B (E or W) PA = Co Lat A PB = Co Lat B
Equator A P

Vn
B

Vs
Co Lat in the same hemisphere (90-Lat) Co lat in the opposite = hemisphere(90+Lat)
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Prime meridian
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You may prefer to use the adjusted Marc St Hilaire

Formula Cos AB = Cos P x Cos Lat A x Cos Lat B Sin Lat A x Sin Lat B
P

Vn
B

Equator

Vs
(+ if A and B have same name) (- if A and B have different names)
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Prime meridian
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Great circle sailing
To find initial course A; Cos A = (Cos PB - Cos PA x Cos AB) / (Sin PA x Sin AB) To find final course reciprocal of B; Cos B = (Cos PA - Cos PB x Cos AB )/ (Sin PB x Sin AB)
P

Vessel is sailing from A to B AB = distance PAB or angle A = initial course PBA or angle B = reciprocal of final SAK course

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Great circle sailing
The principal advantage of calculating great circles this way is that once PA and PB have been

calculated, the rest can be left to the calculator and no ambiguity concerning sides or angles bigger or less than 90 will occur. When calculating spherical triangles it is best to convert all sides and angles into decimal angles. This can be done using the '" button on your calculator, or by dividing the minutes by 60. Always work to 3 decimal places of a degree when using decimal angles.
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Great circle sailing-Example Lat A = 34 27 N Lat B = 41 23 S D.Long = 105 44
North elevated pole
P

PA = 90 34 27
PA = 55 33
B

Calculator Press 90 Press Press Press 34 PressPress 27

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Great circle sailing-Example
Lat A = 34 27 N Lat B = 41 23 S D.Long = 105 44 E North elevated pole PA = 90 34 27 PA = 55 33 = 55.55 PB = 90 + 41 23 PB = 131 23= 131.383
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To find distance AB: Cos AB = Cos P x Sin PB x Sin PA + Cos PB x Cos PA Lat A = 34 27 N Lat B = 41 23 S D.Long = 105 44 E=105.733 PA = 55 33=55.55 PB = 131 23 = 131.383
Cos AB = - 0.541743104 Press shift Press cos Press Answer Press enter AB = 122.802 To convert degress Press shift Press or Press Press enter 122 48 07
A

Cos AB= Cos 105 44 x Sin 131 23 x Sin 55 33 + Cos 131 23 x Cos 55 33

Distance AB = 122.802 x 60 = 7368.1 mile.

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To find initial course A; Cos A = (Cos PB - Cos PA x Cos AB) / (Sin PA x Sin AB)
PA = 55 33 PB = 131 23 AB = 122 48 07
Becarefull when transferring the formula to the calculator! Use ( and ) or divide sin PA and Sin AB !

Initial course N 120.8 E so Course = 120.8 T

To find final course reciprocal of B; Cos B = (Cos PA - Cos PB x Cos AB )/ (Sin PB x Sin AB) Final course S 70.8 E = 109.2 T

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Great circle sailing-Example
Find the initial and final course and total distance from; (A) California 35 10 N 120 45 W to P (B) Aucland 36 51 S 174 49 E.

To find Dlong: 120 45+ 174 49 = Ans 360- Ans = 64 26 E Dlong= 64 26 E = 64.433 E
B

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Find the initial and final course and total distance from; (A) California 35 10 N 120 45 W to (B) Aucland 36 51 S 174 49 E. To find distance AB: Cos AB = Cos P x Sin PB x Sin PA + Cos PB x Cos PA
P

P = 64 26 PA = 90 - 3510 = 54 50 PB = 90+ 36 51=126 51 Distance = 93 37.1 x 60 AB = 5617.1 mile.

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Find the initial and final course and total distance from; (A)California 35 10 N 120 45 W to (B) Aucland 36 51 S 174 49 E. To find initial course A; Cos A = (Cos PB - Cos PA x Cos AB )/ Sin PA x Sin AB
P

P = 64 26 PA = 54 50 PB = 126 51 AB = 93 37.1 a = N 133.67 W Initial Course C = 226.3 T

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Find the initial and final course and total distance from; (A) California 35 10 N 120 45 W to (B) Aucland 36 51 S 174 49 E. To find final course reciprocal of B; Cos B = (Cos PA - Cos PB x Cos AB )/ Sin PB x Sin AB
P

P = 64 26 PA = 54 50 PB = 126 51 AB = 93 37.1 b = N 47.63 E Recip Co or Final Co = S 47.53 W C = 227.6 T

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Vertex Maximum Latitude that the great circle reaches is known as the vertex. Vertex north and Vertex south
P

Vn
B

Vs
The latitude of the vertex equals the angle between the great circle and the equator at the intersection of the great circle and the equator.
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Vertex of a Great Circle The vertex of a great circle is the maximum latitude point

of the great circle. The vertex has the following properties: There is a maximum latitude point in both the northern and southern hemispheres; these points have the same value of latitude (eg if northern vertex = 40N then southern vertex = 40S). The longitudes of the vertices are 180 apart (e.g. if one is in 20W, the other is in 160E). At the vertex the course on the great circle is exactly 090T or 270T, depending on whether you are proceeding towards the east or the west. This means that the angle between the great circle and the meridian at the vertex is always 90.
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Great circle sailing
Sailing A to B

<90

Vertex before the start position

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Great circle sailing
Sailing A to B

Vertex between the start and end position

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Great circle sailing
Sailing A to B

Vertex After the final Position

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Great circle sailing

Rule: A and B less than 90 vertex between A and B A bigger than 90 , vertex before the A. B bigger than 90 , vertex after the B.

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Position of the Vertex and use of Napier's Rules

The basic form of Napier's Rules is used to resolve the following:

Finding the position of the vertex of a great circle Solving the great circle legs of a composite great circle

Resolving any other right angled spherical triangle, be it terrestrial or celestial

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
PA = Polar distance of A = (90 - Lat of A) PV = Polar distance of V = (90 - Lat of V) VA = Arc of great circle. P Vertex

V
A

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
PA = Polar distance of A = (90 - Lat of A) PV = Polar distance of V = (90 - Lat of V) VA = Arc of great circle. P

1
Vertex

6 6

4
3
A

5
4

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
To find Lat. of vertex We know; A = Initial course and PA = Polar distance of A = (90 - Lat of A) P

1
Vertex

6 6

4
3
A

5
4

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Sine of middle part = Product of Tan of Adjacent Parts

Sine of middle part = Product of Cos of Opposite Parts

Sin PV = Cos Co A x Cos Co PA
Cosine of a complementary angle is its sine e.g. Cos Co 30 = Sin 30

Sin PV = Sin A x Sin PA

Lat of vertex
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Sin mid part = Product of tan of adjacents. Sin Co PA = Tan Co A x Tan Co P Cos PA = 1 / Tan A x 1/ Tan P Multiple by Tan P Tan p x Cos PA = 1/Tan A Tan P = 1 / (Tan A x Cos PA) This gives us P, the D.Long between A and V, and hence the longitude of V.
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
To find the position of the vertex you will first have to find the great circle initial course angle A. This

will be found by the cosine rule We will then know two parts of the triangle and can find any other part. The parts we know are Angle A and the Co-Latitude of A (PA). We need to find PV (when taken from 90, PV will give the latitude of the vertex), and angle VPA (the D.long between A and V) which is applied to the known longitude of A to give the longitude of the vertex.
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
A vessel sails on a great circle from A 40 00'N 50 00'W to B 43 00'N 015 00'W. Find the initial

course and the position of the vertex.

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
A vessel sails on a great circle from A 40 00'N 50 00'W to B 43 00'N 015 00'W. Find the initial

course and the position of the vertex. First find AB and initial course D.Long = 35 E = P PA = 50 PB = 47 Cos AB= Cos 35xSin47xSin50+Cos47xCos50 26 11 36 AB=1571.6 mile
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules Initial course PA = 50 PB = 47 AB= 26 11 36 Cos A = (Cos PB-Cos PAxCos AB)/(SinPAxSinAB) Course = N 71,87 E Course = 71,87 T

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
PA = 50 PB = 47 AB= 26 11 36
P

Initial Course = 71,87 T Sin PV = Sin A x Sin PA PV = 46,72= 46 43 12 Lat of vertex = 90- 46 43 12 Lat of vertex = 43 16 48 N
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71,87 A

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules Initial course P PA = 50 PB = 47 50 AB= 26 11 36 Course = 71,87 T 71,87 V Lat of vertex = 43 16 48 N A Tan P = 1 / Tan A x Cos PA P = D.Long=26 59 38 E Long of vertex = 50W- 26 59 38 E=23 00 22 W
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Solution of right-angled spherical triangles to find

latitudes of intermediate points along great circle tracks. In practice, a GC route is approximated by following a succession of rhumb lines between points on the GC. We can use Napier's Rules to find these intermediate points.

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Great circle sailing
P PA = Co Lat A

PV = Co Lat V

LV L A V

We know PV and P (the D.long from V to longitude of L). We need to find PL, and hence Lat L. Sin Mid Part = Tan Adjacents Sin Co P = Tan PV x Tan Co PL Tan Lat L = Cos P / Tan PV Cos P = Tan PV x Tan Lat L Cos P / Tan PV = Tan Lat L
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Wellington (A) 41 38' S 175 28'

E to Panama (B) 0724'N 079 55 'W Find also the position of the vertex and the latitude of a point on the great circle in longitude 140W

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Wellington (A) 41 38' S 175 28'

E to Panama (B) 0724'N 079 55 'W Draw the sketch

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
Draw the sketch
B 7 24'N

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules A =41 38' S 175 28' E B =0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = PB = P =

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules A =41 38' S 175 28' E B =0724'N 079 55 'W South elevated pole PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 = D.long= 104 37 E
To find distance AB: Cos AB = Cos P x Sin PB x Sin PA + Cos PB x Cos PA Long A : 175 28' E Long B : 079 55 'W Dlong : 255 23 W 360 D.Long : 104 37 E

AB = ?
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules A =41 38' S 175 28' E B =0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 Cos AB = Cos 104 37x Sin 48 22 x Sin 97 24+Cos 48 22x Cos 97 24 AB=105.819*60=6349.2 mile=105 49 10
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules A =41 38' S 175 28' E; B =0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 AB=105 49 10=105.819=6349.2
To find initial course A; Cos A = (Cos PB - Cos PA x Cos AB )/ Sin PA x Sin AB

Initial course:

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules A =41 38' S 175 28' E ; PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 AB=105 49 10=105.819 B=0724'N 079 5 5 'W

Course: Cos A= (Cos PB-CosPAxCosAB) / Sin PA x Sin AB A = 85.828 (angle) Intial course = S 85.8 E = 180-85.8= 094.2 T

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
A =41 38' S 175 28' E ; B=0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 AB=105 49 10=105.819 Intial course = S 85.8 E = 180-85.8= 094.2 T

Cos B= (Cos PA-CosPBxCosAB) / Sin PB x Sin AB A = 48.738 (angle) Final course= N 48.7 E= 048.7 T

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules

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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
A =41 38' S 175 28' E ; B=0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 AB=105 49 10=105.819 A= S 85.8 E , B= N 48.7 E Intial course = S 85.8 E = 180-85.8= 094.2 T Final course= N 48.7 E= 048.7 T

Latitute of vertex:
Sin Mid Part= Cos opposite parts Sin PV = Cos Co A x Cos Co PA Sin PV = Sin A x Sin PA Sin PV = Sin 85.828 x Sin 48 22 PV = 48.196 Lat V = 90-48.196 = 41.804 = 41 48.2 S
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
A =41 38' S 175 28' E ; B=0724'N 079 5 5 'W PA = 48 22 PB = 97 24 P = 104 37 AB=105 49 10=105.819 Intial course = S 85.8 E = 180-85.8= 094.2 T Final course= N 48.7 E= 048.7 T

Longitute of vertex:
Sin Mid Part = Tan Adjacent Parts Sin Co PA = Tan Co A x Tan Co P Cos PA = 1 / Tan A x 1 / Tan P Tan P = 1 / (Tan A x Cos PA) P = 6.266 or 6 15 57 Longitude of vertex = 175 28'E + 615'.9E = 18143'.9E or 178 16'.1W Longitute : 178 16.1 W
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules
To calculate the latitude of a point on the great circle in 140W. In triangle VPL: The polar angle P is 178 16.1 W - 140W =3816.6 or 38.268 PV = 48.196 Sin Mid Part = Tan Adjacent Parts Sin Co P = Tan PV x Tan PL Cos P = Tan PV x (1/Tan Lat L) Tan Lat L = Cos P / Tan PV Tan L = 0.70208 Lat of point is 35.072 or 35 04'.3S in longitude 140 West
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Great circle sailing- Napier's Rules To calculate the latitude of a point on the great circle in 85W
In triangle VPL: The polar angle P is 178 16MW-85W = 93 16'.1 or 93.268 PV = 48.196 Tan Lat L = Cos P / Tan PV = 0.05098 Lat of point is-2.918 S =2.918N =2 55.1 N in longitude 85W (- sign means go to the opposite latitude from the pole used in the calculation.)

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Dondra Head, South of Sri Lanka 05 48' N 80 36' E to Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia 34 26' S 115 04' E. Find the position of the vertex and the latitude of a point on the track in longitude 100E

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
P A=05 48' N 80 36' E B= 34 26' S 115 04' E A PA=90- 05 48N = 84 12 PB=90+34 26'S = 124 26 D.Long= 115 04' E- 80 36' E =34 28 E or 34.467 To find distance AB: Cos AB = Cos P x Sin PB x Sin PA + Cos PB x Cos PA

AB=51.729=x60=3103.7 mile

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
A=05 48' N 80 36' E ; B= 34 26' S 115 04' E PA=90- 05 48N = 84 12 A PB=90+34 26'S = 124 26 D.Long= 115 04' E- 80 36' E =34 28 E or 34.467 AB=51.729=x60=3103.7 mile
P

A=N143.5E Course= 143.5 T

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
A=05 48' N 80 36' E ; B= 34 26' S 115 04' E PA=84 12 PB= 124 26 A D.Long=34 28 E or 34.467 AB=51.729=x60=3103.7 mile A=N143.5E Course= 143.5 T
P

To find final course reciprocal of B; Cos B = (Cos PA - Cos PB x Cos AB )/ Sin PB x Sin AB B=45.817 Final course=S45.817E or 134.2 T

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
A=05 48' N 80 36' E ; B= 34 26' S 115 04' E PA=84 12 PB= 124 26 D.Long=34 28 E or 34.467 V AB=51.729=x60=3103.7 mile A=N143.5E Inital Course= 143.5 T B=45.817 Final course=S45.817E or 134.2 T Where is vertex?
P

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
A=05 48' N 80 36' E ; B= 34 26' S 115 04' E PA=84 12 PB= 124 26 D.Long=34 28 E or 34.467 V AB=51.729=x60=3103.7 mile A=N143.52E Inital Course= 143.5 T B=45.817 Final course=S45.817E or 134.2 T pAv=180-143.52=36.48
P

AV

PV

pAv PA

vPa

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Great circle sailing- Self assessment test
2. Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Fastnet Island 5116'N 9 3 6 'W to Mona Passage 1828'N 67 3 2 ' W .Find the position of the vertex and the latitude of a point on the track in longitude 20W 3. Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Strait of Magellan 52 23' S 68 18' W to Cape Town 33 53'S 18 2 0 ' E. Find the position of the vertex and the latitude of a point on the track in longitude 0E 4. Find the great circle distance and the initial and final courses from Durban 29 53'S 31 0 4 ' E to Fremantle 32 04'S 115 2 6 ' E Find the position of the vertex and the latitude of a point on the track in longitude 100E
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Composite GC sailing
It is not always possible or desirable to travel along a great circle for some of the following reasons.

The great circle track may pass through high latitudes where weather is likely to be rough and the ship may encounter large waves and swell. The great circle track may pass over land.
The saving of distance is small in low latitudes, or

if the course is nearly north/south. A great circle track may take the ship into head winds and adverse currents.
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Composite GC sailing
Composite great circle sailing means travelling between two places by the shortest route with the restriction of not going north or south of a limiting latitude.
P

V1

V2

A
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B
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Composite GC sailing
Sin Mid Part = Tan Adjacent Parts or Sin Mid Part = Cos Opposite Parts
P V1

To find the longitude of V, by finding D.long 'P' Sin Mid Part = Tan Adjacent Parts Sin Co P = Tan PV1 x Tan Co PA Cos P = Tan PV1 / Tan PA
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Composite GC sailing
Similarly, in the second triangle:

Cos P = Tan PV2 / Tan PB to find the longitude of V2

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Composite GC sailing
To find initial course A

Sin Mid Part = Cos Opposites Sin PV1 = Cos Co A x Cos Co PA Sin PV1 = Sin A x Sin PA Sin A = Sin PV1 / Sin PA

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Composite GC sailing
To find distance AV Sin Mid Part = Cos Opposites Sin Co PA = Cos PV1 x Cos AV1 Cos PA = Cos PV1 x Cos AV1

Cos AV1 = Cos PA / Cos PV1

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Composite GC sailing-Example
Find the distance from Durban to Fremantle by composite great circle course using 35 S as the,

limiting latitude. Find also the initial and final courses.

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Composite GC sailing Find the distance from Durban to Fremantle by composite great circle course using 35 S as the, limiting latitude. Find also the initial and final courses.

A B

PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing
A B Lat: 29 53 S Lat: 32 04 S D.Long Long: 31 04 E Lonf: 115 26 E 84 22 E PA=60 07 PB=57 56 PV=55 PA=60.117 PA=57.933 PV=55.000

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Composite GC sailing

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Composite GC sailing

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Composite GC sailing

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Composite GC sailing

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Composite GC sailing

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Composite GC sailing

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