cocked hat

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The small triangular space usually found at the intersection of position lines on a chart when a ship's position is determined by plotting three bearings when employing celestial, coastal, or hyperbolic navigation. With perfect observation and plotting, the three position lines should intersect at a common point. When they do not, a cocked hat is formed. This indicates minor errors when fixing a ship's position, and, in general, the larger the cocked hat, the greater the error. Navigators normally take the centre of the cocked hat, when it is not large, as the ship's position. In particular circumstances they may take the position nearest to danger. There are occasions when the true position may lie outside the cocked hat. See also angle of cut.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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