Subject: Re: What is a LORAN?

Yankee Fleet: Carol Hill/Lisa Foerster (
Wed, 03 Sep 1997 16:10:52 -0700

LORAN (which is an acronym for Long Range Aid to Navigation) is basically 
a system utilizing radio frequencies and receivers to plot one's way 
through the ocean.  It can be compared to Latitude/Longitude, but is 
different in many respects.  The numbers that one reads on the LORAN 
machine are radio freqencies sent out by beacons on shore.  One can 
compare it to the LCD display on your regular music radio.  The numbers 
received are a measure of your distance from the source. When you buy a 
marine chart, these numbers are plotted on the chart so one can see one's 
location by comparing the readout on the LORAN machine and the numbers on 
the chart.  

On our whale watches we often use the 44 line and the 13 line.  They are 
roughly perpendicular.  As the readout of our 44 line decreases, that 
indicates a southerly movement of our vessel.  A decrease in the 13 line 
indicates an easterly movement.   

I hope this clears it up slightly.  It would be much easier for me to 
show you in person, so if you're able to visit Yankee Fleet in 
Gloucester, I'd be glad to help!


Lisa Foerster
Director, Center for Oceanic Research and Education
Chief Naturalist, Yankee Whale Watch wrote:
> Hello,
> I am a special education teacher at Landmark school in Manchester, MA. I am
> currently doing a unit on whaling and whales in general.
> My question is...
> Could you please explain how a LORAN works? Not only am I interested, but I
> would like to explain it to my middle school class. How does the ship know
> how to find the whales? and is longitude and latitude involved?
> Thanks!!!!
>                                                                  Jill M.
> Flemming
>                                                                      Landmark
> School Teacher