The information poured out and we slurped up as much as we could. At the end of the first week, things were going ok, but we had a test and an assessment on plotting a 3-star fix and a sun plot to study for on Monday. I hadn't quite figured out the process come Monday morning and turned in my assessment sheets empty and sat my sorry butt back down at the desk, knowing that I could retake the assessment at the end of the week if I was ready.
Over the next few days I tried repeatedly to figure out the plot, but my numbers kept going in the wrong direction and my plots were nowhere close to the 1 nautical mile minimum tolerance. In the meantime, we drank more formulas and concepts from the hose and began the wind-down towards the final exam. The exam was to consist of 10 navigation problems from the various topics we'd gone over during the session and the entire exam would take about 3 hours. We were being tested on finding latitude of Local Area Noon, ETA's, Great circle sailings, mid-latitude sailings, parallel sailings, Sunset and Sunrise on a specific location and a few other problems. I was so overwhelmed with everything the last few days, that I had pretty much accepted the fact that I wasn't going to pass the class this time around. I was bummed, but I had accepted it and was moving on. I was still going to do my best to learn what I could and make the best of it.
Wednesday night, I worked more on my plots and started to understand what I was doing wrong, but still wasn't getting the right answers. Even if I figure the plots out, I still needed to practice the other problems for the exam AND pass the test with at least a 70% minimum required passing grade, and then re-take my plotting assessment as well. It was barely achievable, but I wasn't going to easily just throw in the towel. I went to bed early, but couldn't sleep, tossed and turned all night thinking about equations, nav problems, etc. Just a bunch of numbers floating around in my head that was pretty much jelly by this point.
|a fried, stressed, studying session with|
That night I decided to skip the plotting and study solely for the exam the next day, knowing that the plot assessment was low priority at this point. I hit the library and went though each topic, for about 4 hours. That night, again, I went to bed early but tossed and turned only yielding about 5 hours of sleep.
The next morning I made my way to Starbucks for a XL Americano, and headed to school. I was simply looking forward to just getting this session over with, pass OR fail... assuming a fail.
We started the exam around 8:30 and I had to go through each problem at a snail's pace, using Bowditch as a reference (One of the allowed testing publications). I took my time, assessing each step, and nailing down the best answer for each question. I had to make one or two educated guesses at the very end, but I finished and turned it in.
My instructor pulled out her grading pen and went over them all with a quickness. I was waiting for the dreaded "X" on the problem as she went over each one... but in never came. She checked it against her grading sheet again... no X. I had passed the exam with 100%!
I about fell down. Could NOT believe that I had just passed the celestial nav exam with flying colors.
|My answer sheet. P for "passing"|
Anyhow, I was done with the exam and still needed to retake my plotting assessment. I grabbed a few bites of lunch and headed right back into class. My first retake went ok and I passed the star plot, but my sun plot was still a little off. I had one more try... I asked to retake it immediately and I whipped it out in about 15-20 minutes with full confidence. I KNEW it was right, so I sat down and waited patiently for my instructor to check my work. I still crossed my fingers, but I was pretty sure that I'd just passed Celestial Navigation completely. She checked it and confirmed that my plot was perfect. I was done.
So, moral of the story.... it aint over till it's over and miracles do happen.
I stopped for 2 cold beers on my way back to the house. THE best beer that I've had in a long time.
As a side note: I got a message from one of my classmates today that pretty much sums it up. He said that today (Saturday) he was suffering from PTSD. I couldn't help but agree. Tough class and glad to be done.
|Best beer in the world!|