The more things change, the more things change. Or do they? Although the boating industry has advanced a hundredfold in terms of reliability, ease of maintenance, and electronics, the sea and the weather remain the same as they ever were. So even though many of the techniques of the past aren't in common use anymore, they remain, when tweaked slightly by contemporary circumstances, eternally valuable. For those of you who doubt this, here are some examples of the way it was - and why these methods still work.
Then: When wooden boats were first launched, they needed to be babysat for a few days to make sure the pumps kept running until the planks swelled and leaks stopped.
And Again: Not a bad idea to check your boat frequently following the spring launch. You may have forgotten dock line lengths or fender positions, you could have a new neighbor who is tied up differently (read: improperly), and equipment often fails after being idle over the winter.
Then: Weather gurus listened for static on an AM radio, which foretold of thunderstorms in the area.
And again: VHF forecasts and the Weather Channel give plenty of information, but it's often not right for your specific cruising ground. Learn to read nature's signs. If a storm is to your west or north, it's likely to hit. Dew in the morning means a fair day. A halo around the moon is a sign of rain. A wind that changes to your right as you face it signals improving weather.
Then: Listening for the sounds of surf, cars, barking dogs, and other land noises were ways to help fix your position in a fog.
And again: Still helpful, should your chartplotter get doused during a fog, as mine did recently. Every ancient mariner knew not to depend on one system of navigation. And it's a wise boater who does the same.