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Old 28-12-2011, 16:33   #1
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Thank Gd for GPS

Being 70 I had no experiance with GPS I was delivering my new boat from Stockton Ca to Sf Bay area Marina and we left in pea soup fog at 5 am sat morn,My crew member had a Hand held GPS and without it we would have had to abort.We made the 108 miles in 3 days approx 23 hrs motoring no wind avail. and Gps was perfect for conditions.
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Old 28-12-2011, 16:49   #2
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

GPS is a wonder. It surely makes navigation a lot easier in the extensive shallows and narrow channels/rivers of the San Francisco Bay Estuary. Without it, one could readily become a permanent part of the scenery as this derelict sailboat in the middle of Suisun Bay (it's on the chart) :



Fog in Carquinez Strait:

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Old 28-12-2011, 17:40   #3
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

The second day on my first boat I sailed out of Newport not being able to see 200 feet and made my way toward the Cape Cod canal, using the GPS and radar. And I had never been in the area beore.

YES - GPS is amazing!
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Old 29-12-2011, 09:37   #4
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

GPS is a particularly spectacularly useful tool, indeed, but it's only one of many. I find it's handy for showing current and set and drift (hard to discern stuff, otherwise), and it certainly has its uses in fog, but then so does radar and paper charts and bearing compasses, etc.

It can only make you a better sailor if you consider its limitations and have a Plan B evolved out of personal seamanlike experience. If the paper chart and the GPS disagree, because you grasp the basics of coastal pilotage, you will catch this and avoid standing into danger. With only the GPS and no paper chart (or with the paper chart but lacking an impulse to cross-check against it with what your eyes are seeing), you may make an otherwise easily avoidable mistake.
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Old 29-12-2011, 10:37   #5
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

GPS is great. I love it, but I would never trust it as my sole means of navigation in tight, unknown waters. In parts of my home waters (north shore Lake Superior) the charts can be off by up to 1/4 nm or more (base on our GPS fix). When the fog rolls in, as it often does, you better have a plan B that doesn't rely on GPS.

The problem seems not so much with GPS, per say, but with the charts that you translate your GPS fix on to (be it electronic or paper). I assume it's b/c the charts are based on rather old surveys (40+ years in some cases up here). This kind or error would be far less obvious before electronic navigation, but with the advent of very accurate fixes (i.e. GPS), I bet there are many old charts that show similar errors.

I know most rich urbanized areas have very accurate charts, but I wonder about less wealthy parts of the world. And by that I mean most parts of the world. Do they also suffer from inaccurate charts? If so, relying on GPS to navigate in close quarters would seem to be folly.
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Old 29-12-2011, 11:10   #6
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

I have to admit, I grew up with a lead line,paper charts, and DR(dead reckining) it worked, along with good eyes and ears !! I made it to most everywhere that way! BUT At my avanced age I have learned to Love modern electronics !! GPS, RADAR, Chartplotters Ect ect. But still carry a lead line, and as many paper charts as I can find,an astrolobe, and good 7/50 Glasses, and common sense,will get ya home if all else fails.(I also carry spare hand held GPS LOL Im not to old to learn ) Bob and Connie
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Old 29-12-2011, 21:24   #7
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

Depending on speed, making a 'tick' mark notation of your position on a paper chart a habit can save you hours of stress.... If for some reason all of your GPSs go out at the same time.
Best one I ever had was a letter from the 2nd Infantry Division Commanding General in S Korea years ago, 'Do not use GPS or LORAN to navigate in minefields'. Like NO DUHHHHH!!!! What concerned me was that he had the reason to put out that letter....
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Old 29-12-2011, 21:42   #8
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

What concerned me was that he had the reason to put out that letter....

Classic!
A right brain/left brain thing, or a General thing?
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:40   #9
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

Au contraire! But no thanks!

I believe that GPS has turned the waterways into a freeway where any jack with enough money can just shoot out do his thing and shoot back half blind.

What ever happened to good ole seamanship? As a new sailor back in the 70's it was a challenge just to sail from San Diego to Catalina Is. It took the bravery knowing that if you don't make it you could be lost at sea, which kept the useless land bound. Now a daze people head off shore looking at the GPS with little to no training or concern. They rely on the GPS as if it were another hand. And with the DSC we now have to rescue these jerks. There needs to be a weather fax attached as well.

If the satellites ever drop out (war time/solar flares) the people depending on these devices will cease to travel out of the sight of land, which could be a good thing IMHO. The waterways are way over populated these days with untrained ID10T's and now even the women are braving the roads where they didn't before.

Sure, I like GPS too, but only b/c is it lazy, and with getting old, lazy is nice. It's a fun toy that has allowed me to slack off on my nav skills and take chances where I would have not before. Which has also ruined the nice secluded places I once enjoyed with others of the same skills/interests.

It would be nice if I were 20-30 years older so I wouldn't have had to endure the ignorance/selfishness of this modern society and it's complicated toys.

Yours Truely,
Thee Old Fuddy Duddy
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:53   #10
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

I have to go with Delmarrey. I thnk GPS should be turned off 3 or four days a week unannounced! That way people who cannot navigate would stay home where they belong!!
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:57   #11
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
I have to go with Delmarrey. I thnk GPS should be turned off 3 or four days a week unannounced! That way people who cannot navigate would stay home where they belong!!
Especially the weekends!

And I know I'm going to hear the words "but it's safer". Yeah! And even more so for the incompetent. It's like mending the broken leg of a work horse.
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Old 30-12-2011, 08:21   #12
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
Au contraire! But no thanks!

I believe that GPS has turned the waterways into a freeway where any jack with enough money can just shoot out do his thing and shoot back half blind.

What ever happened to good ole seamanship? As a new sailor back in the 70's it was a challenge just to sail from San Diego to Catalina Is. It took the bravery knowing that if you don't make it you could be lost at sea, which kept the useless land bound. Now a daze people head off shore looking at the GPS with little to no training or concern. They rely on the GPS as if it were another hand. And with the DSC we now have to rescue these jerks. There needs to be a weather fax attached as well.

If the satellites ever drop out (war time/solar flares) the people depending on these devices will cease to travel out of the sight of land, which could be a good thing IMHO. The waterways are way over populated these days with untrained ID10T's and now even the women are braving the roads where they didn't before.

Sure, I like GPS too, but only b/c is it lazy, and with getting old, lazy is nice. It's a fun toy that has allowed me to slack off on my nav skills and take chances where I would have not before. Which has also ruined the nice secluded places I once enjoyed with others of the same skills/interests.

It would be nice if I were 20-30 years older so I wouldn't have had to endure the ignorance/selfishness of this modern society and it's complicated toys.

Yours Truely,
Thee Old Fuddy Duddy
My centiments exactly!
I have a radar, vhf, fathometer and an I-Phone w/navex.
Oh yeah - my sextant, clock & barometer and lead line!
Years ago I ran a charter boat out of Westport, Wa. Lots of fog.I would head for the bar using an RDF - that would get me close. Then I'd shut down the engine and listen for the fog horn and zero in on that. Then I'd get close enough to hear the bells on the entrance bouy, finding that, I would follow the bells&bouys by compass. I had radar but it never worked worth a damn. I used to have to holler at the guys in skiffs who would follow me in because they would see the radar in the mast and assume I knew where I was. I'd yell at them through my bull horn to shut off there engines because I couldnt hear the fog horn! When they realised my radar was belly up, they all left to find their way in!
I made hundreds of crossing this way
Out of 40 years of sailing/fishing in bad weather, I think crossing a bar in the fog - even when it's calm - is the scariest thing I've ever done!
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Old 30-12-2011, 08:28   #13
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

It is not just pleasure boats that rely on GPS now. Shutting it down would be a public safety issue, especially with emergency vehicles. It would also be a huge inconvenience for aircraft and large commercial vessels navigating shallow areas not to mention vehicles road map systems. I use it almost on a daily basis for locating sampling stations down to a few meters.
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Old 30-12-2011, 08:35   #14
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

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Originally Posted by David M View Post
It is not just pleasure boats that rely on GPS now. Shutting it down would be a public safety issue, especially with emergency vehicles. It would also be a huge inconvenience for aircraft and large commercial vessels navigating shallow areas not to mention vehicles road map systems. I use it almost on a daily basis for locating sampling stations down to a few meters.
Just speaking in jest!
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Old 30-12-2011, 08:38   #15
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Re: Thank Gd for GPS

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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
I have to go with Delmarrey. I thnk GPS should be turned off 3 or four days a week unannounced! That way people who cannot navigate would stay home where they belong!!
Yah! And how about those new fangled things called engines! We should stop selling fuel to those so-called "sailors" who spend more time running on wind by perkins.

Electric depth sounders and knot meters!! Bah. Everyone must now use leadlines and Taffrail logs.

And don't me started on those high-tech materials like fibreglass, stainless steel and aluminum extruded struts. All gotta go!!!



GPS should never be your sole means of navigation. If it is, you are a danger to yourself, and likely to others around you. The trick with all technology (especially one as seductive and easy as GPS) is to use it, and not let it use you.
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