Bowditch Question

I’ve got a question about Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator. I know that the entire pdf is available for free download on the NGA’s site:

It is nice to have this reference available on an iPad. But it is not really conducive to heavy reading and using the tables. With the latest online version (2017) they have returned to a two-volume set and I would really like to get a hardcover set. But I’ll be damned if I know where to get one from. It seems all I can find are the older editions in the online shops.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I have the old two volume hardcopy Bowdich, a fairly recent one volume hardcopy Bowdich, and the pdf. The pdf is too difficult to use, unless it’s the only option. I prefer to old two volume, unless I want to read about something “new” like ARPA or ECDIS.

No suggestions unfortunately but I love leafing through my grandfathers 1949 edition every now and then. They’ve really dumbed it down since then though. I’ll look out for the new two volume edition for sure.

West Marine

American Nautical has printed the 2017 volumes.

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You can buy both volumes on amazon for cheaper. Both in a paperback version. You don’t get a cd. If you use amazon don’t forget to use the link from gcaptain to help John pay for us to use the site. Link will also work if you click it and the amazon app opens on your phone. Both volumes can be purchased off amazon for 42.98 free shipping if you have prime.

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Thanks for your help. I browsed what is available at American Nautical and Amazon. It only seems paperback versions are available in the 2017 edition. Amazon does have a less expensive option w/ both volumes priced at $42.98 total, but I’m wary. The cheaper books have a different cover and the title is: “American Practical Navigator An Epitome of Navigation Bowditch 2017 Edition Volume I Paperback – Abridged, October 23, 2017.” I’m not sure what “abridged” means in this context, but I want the whole thing.

So I’m guessing a hardcopy set just isn’t available yet. If anyone knows otherwise, please post a reply.

There are paperback versions available but NGA said they aren’t going to print hardback versions due to the high costs. Hopefully somebody else will print them soon.

OK, I just did a quick comparison. The less expensive set on Amazon is published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (a self-publishing set-up). It seems to me that when they say “abridged,” it means that they have just published in b/w. So they have abridged all the color out of this set.

Since Bowditch’s is tough enough to read already, I think I’d splurge for a color copy. But if I’m going to splurge, I will wait for someone to print a hardcopy set.

I always feel really dumb when I try to understand textbooks written back in the day. And at this stage, I don’t need any more assistance in feeling dumb.

And I also just checked with MD Nautical Sales. According to them, no one has published a hardcover yet because the file that is available right now is full of errors. I noticed some of them when trying to read the download. There are a lot of mistakes in the column formatting.

His publishing source says that they are aiming to clean up the errors by this April and he expects that after that, someone will print some hardcovers.

I’d just use the last two volume edition, the one I have here is 1977. It’s still fully usable for nav problems.

If need be you could check the version you’re using against the 2017 on-line (or pdf etc) edition for changes. Presumably the CG will continue to use an older version in the exam room but it might be worth checking to see if that’s correct or not.

The good thing about the PDF is it’s searchable and you can have it on your phone so it’s always with you.

What if you bring the pdf on a thumb drive to kinkos and have them print it out and put it in a binder for you? Would be the most up to date version

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So it has been a while, and I’ve been doing a little Bowditch reading. I noticed that since I started this post, Amazon has a nice two volume set of the 2017 edition now available for under $60:
But when I went to the NGA online version, I see that they now have a newer 2019 version available as a download. I hadn’t noiced that they updated until just now. I’m thinking it must be to correct all of the formatting errors that existed in the 2017 edition when it was first published? Not sure though. Still, I’m glad I didn’t shell out for the 2017 edition. Are we now to the point where investment in hard bound books is a bad idea?

I like having (a couple) hard copy versions, history and stuff getting removed makes having an old copy useful if you like history or obscure references. If you have the space, it’s a professional looking pub and also good for browsing. Of course, if it’s free why not have a digital copy for search, copy and paste whether or not you buy a hard copy that fits on a digital phone given it can fit? If you’re a book person you like to have books if not, they cheap and useful free copy is good to have.

The changes noted in the 2019 edition Forward:

“Since the last edition, there have been huge advancements in positioning methodologies and navigation systems. In some cases, what was old is new again, so we focused considerable effort into improving the celestial navigation and piloting chapters. Hand-plotting latent fixes on paper charts has been overtaken by Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems that continuously tell you where you are, provide warnings when standing into danger, and display radar and Automatic Identifica- tion System information to heighten situational awareness. Older graphics have been replaced by newer, higher resolution images to better illustrate the purpose of the text. And, we have tried to make this document more accessible by creating it in an electronic format which al- lows easier updating and online publication.“

The forward in the 2019 edition is the same one that is found in the 2017 edition. So as one might expect, there hasn’t actually been huge advancements within the last two years that warranted a whole new edition. I still suspect it was done to correct the errors.

Yeesh, you’re absolutely right. I guess the government has really taken recycling to heart.

One thing that stands out is lack of a Table of Contents in 2017, present in 2019. There are a couple other missing pages as well in 2017 based on differences noted in pdf page numbers compared to each other.

Bowditch’s bronze statue on the Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

It is worth reading the story of Bowditch’s life which can be found in the beginning of his book. He was in many ways an exceptional person with an insatiable curiosity.

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