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Old 04-10-2010, 09:13   #46
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Originally Posted by capt.bobfm View Post
One lightning strike and you will always want paper charts aboard. When none of your electronics work, it's time to go back to the old fashion way. You should never depend on only one means of navigating.
The phone in my pocket (with every chart for the areas I cruise between Maine and Venezuela) and my disconnected iPad will do very well in a lightening strike. If there's enough current to zap the phone in my pocket, it'll likely have killed me too. My wife's phone has every chart as well.

Of course a lightening strike can also easily cause a small fire or huge water infiltration which can easily ruin a set of paper charts.

The key is multiple sources. I just think the day of thinking that paper is the ultimate backup source is coming to an end.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:18   #47
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In one post you say you develop software, but always keep paper charts out, and there's a message in that.

Next post you seem to be arguing the other side, that electronics make better backups?
Yeah...I know. I was taught to navigate on paper. It feels right to me and I like having the charts next to me. It's sort of like getting in the front seat of a car. If I don't buckle the seat belt, it just feels funny.

But we're also going through a real technological change right now. So while it feels right to have paper out, my mind has issues with the need for it.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:21   #48
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I agree with your entire post too.
Except for the content

Sorry, Dan, just having a bit of fun
No problem at all. I am well aware that you think paper charts are dangerous. But you are the only person I have ever heard say that.

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...

The article that I was looking for was his reflection on the number of boats lost earlier in his cruising compared with the number of boats lost now.
He too indicated there doesnt seem to be record kept of long range cruisers accidents, or even the number out in the wide blue. But he thinks its far safer now.


Unlike many folks I believe cruisers these days are generally (by percentage) far better equipened and educated to make safer long range cruises.

Obviously reading the resonses to this thread, few agree with me. But this wouldnt be the first thread! LOL


Mark
I agree. Boating is much safer with all the electronics tools we have now.

Where we disagree is that I still see a need for paper charts.

And, I'm not sure boaters are better educated. Better equipped with tools, but not necessarily better equipped with knowledge. But, maybe they are...

-dan
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:25   #49
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Does printing electronic charts and laminating them count? That's what I just did for the CatClub Campout this weekend!
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:40   #50
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A few thoughts....

* I have had my GPS fail twice: once it was water, the other it was a near lightening strike. With paper back-up, no sweat, but both times we were far from harbors doing complex coastal navigation. Without paper, I would have had to jump off-shore to the next harbor; with any luck one of the mini-charts in the guide book would have a lon-lat. Maybe.
* If I wanted to be modern and up-to-date when sailing, I would have a power boat. Who's kidding who, sailing is a completely anachronistic activity, and I like it that way.
* Mostly, I use GPS for speed and bearing over ground. Maintaining a paddlewheel is a pain.
* The next boat over in the yard was patching his bow last year; seems he locked a way point into his GPS and it was very accurate. This is common.
* I like planning my route, flipping through chart books. I keep an old chart book at home, so I don't have to use the computer. I also like having an atlas to plan road trips. Yes, I understand GPS and mapquest perfectly well and use them too.
* I could read books on a Kindle, but I like turning pages. Used books are cheap and plenty have been written. I doubt the future holds anything better.

Imagine the shear effort of navigating the coast and ocean using only the wind, cloth sails, winches, and steering by hand. That's thick. Buy a power boat, or better, fly. That's almost as dumb as climbing a mountain by the steep side or (gasp) going for a walk. Now that I think of it, I should sell the piano; I'll never play very well.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:59   #51
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It has been stated many times in many marine training colleges around the world that; “a prudent mariner should use all available means to determine his position and the presence of dangers”

While the use of electronic means is by far the most convenient, giving up your ability to use other methods does not seem like “progress” to me.

So yes… I still carry paper charts and know how to make a paper graph transparency of depth contour lines to find my position in the fog using soundings alone.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:12   #52
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I have noticed that on the vector charts that I am using that many aids and areas are mislabeled. As examples, a port bifurcation day beacon on Atkins Reef in Trincomali Channel is labeled as a starboard lateral and military exercise area Whiskey Kilo south of Victoria BC is labeled as a wreck. Raster and paper charts do not have this problem.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:34   #53
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Mark... your comment about the chances of a chart being blown out of the cockpit made me laugh like hell. That exact event occurred on a completion of a trip around Vancouver Island. I had just gone below off watch when I felt the boat swing around, a great deal of luffing as we came up on the opposite tack which got me out of the bunk. By the time I got up on deck we had resumed our original course and my ex-wife was sitting innocently on the wheel enjoying her coffee while at her feet was a fish net and a very wet chart of the entrance to Victoria Harbour. It truly was an hilarious moment... too bad other memories are't as amusing... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:48   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post

Living in Maine, there are many wreck sites where schooners of old ran into the rocky coast to spend the rest of eternity at the sea bottom. In the last 20 years of living on the coast, I can't think of another boat in our busy harbor hitting the rocks and sinking. Surely radar technology helps with that but GPS and electronic charting helps a great deal too.
I'd say that's more down to better marine survey techniques and more accuracy in the modern day charts in heavily populated areas... the reason for inaccuracies in say the Pacific and Indian Ocean island regions is either lack of finance for modern surveys and/or incentive...
As in many places around the world.. the locals don't need them, the knowledge is passed down... its just us 'Tourists'....
Much of the data used is from Cook's time if you check...
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:13   #55
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Another (from my point of view) negative side of the rise of GPS and Chartplotters... the large amount of bouys and lights that are being removed or left off... on my trip through the Med to Turkey I noticed more than 50% of the Nav marks had either been removed or were inoperative... through Greece it went up to 70%... the Thames Estuary 15yrs ago was a mass of reds and greens marking the numerous channels through the sandbars.... today there's just a handfull.
So from that view point its making life a tad more dangerous... especially on a moonless night with electrical failure...
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:19   #56
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The prudent navigator uses all means available to verify his position and course. This means GPS, electronic and paper charts, radar, depth sounder, eyes, and ears (note that I have dropped Loran). The more inputs you have, the more data you have to confirm that you are safe--if one of the inputs does not agree with the other, its time to figure out what is wrong before things get critical.


I'm not saying electronic charting is perfect. I found I had a BSB raster chart of Bermuda approaches which is an exact copy, but the electronic location of the chart was 10 miles off in latitude. I also found another boat's plotted position was off by a mile because the owner had switched his GPS to a Croatian datum. A power boater had used his chartplotter's automatic datum adjustment to get it 25 miles off. How did I find these errors?-- by comparing the visual and radar inputs to the chart. This is the same way I used to find that the paper charts of some South Pacific islands are off by over a mile.

That being said, we consult paper charts less and less often. We have both vector and raster charts loaded on OpenCPN. The raster charts are exact copies of paper charts, and we have them loaded on three separate computers, so we do not see the need for more than a few large area charts to allow us to get into a major port if we lose all electrical systems.


For the purists who want to plot on paper, I would say they are putting their boat and crew in unneccesary danger. Imagine you are navigating a very narrow channel, like the Chesapeake approach to the C&D canal, when a major rain squall takes out your visual and radar input, with the wind pushing you out of the channel. Who is safer--the boat which updates its position and track every second on its chartplotter, or the guy who is frantically trying to plot his position on a paper chart and translate that into a new course to steer?? Add in the AIS system which allows your chartplotter to show a tug and tow coming down the channel toward you in the rain, and electronic charting is a no brainer for safety.


Cost and storage are another factor driving electronic charts--NOAA charts are a free download, or $20 per chart on paper, which is still cheaper than Admiralty charts. There are 29,000 charts available in vector form. The paper version would cost more than some cruising boats, and would weight hundreds of pounds.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:26   #57
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I've been writing software for over a decade as a profession. That's convinced me more than anything else that relying on software developers for safety is absurd. In the land of solid state embedded OAK DSP cores that have been in use for decades I can give it a pass because of the incredibly rigorous testing procedures they have to pass for various type approvals.

But when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of lines of c++/c#/java/smalltalk, that's a recipe for disaster. If it's open source it relies on user feedback testing which is only as good as the participation of the users (who will use different features than you). And if it's a profit company you have project and product managers pushing out software faster than it should ever be released.

Over a very long amount of time you can end up with a stable and quality code base, but by then people jump ship (no pun intended) to take advantage of new technologies.

On a whole, technology companies have little to gain from producing high quality software that you will use for a prolonged amount of time. Their (unstated) goal is to ship as many units as they can and have a "high enough" level of quality that they cause any serious press issues from their slop or garner a bad reputation. These goals have to do with shipping units and making sure they can ship the next level.

All those engineers need to keep writing code, all those project managers need to keep filling out gantt charts, and all those sales guys need to keep shipping units.

Trust me, your particular needs although evaluated in use case studies in the beginnings quickly take a back seat to the reality of a technology corporation.

Go into a hardware company and see what it takes to rewire a board. You'd need to submit an engineering change order and have it signed off by department heads. It will take weeks just to get some sample boards back from the fab house and before it gets mass produced it will go through INSANE amounts of testing including getting re-typed approved, all of which is expensive as hell. There's no backwards button for hardware manufacturers. They get it right the first time or they fail miserably.

Software, on the other hand, even under the most "tight" testing models is a joke.

/rant
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:29   #58
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When you're trying to see "the big picture," there simply is no substitute! Oh, and for when the electronics fail - and they will, eventually.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:30   #59
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The fewer bouys in the US has me concerned too, there is just not as much funding for it. Ditto for lighthouses. I keep paper charts aboard, and learned how to use them, but 99% of my navigating is by chartplotter, with a handheld GPS as backup. It is just too convenient. And it is right more often than I am.

Both paper charts and maps have the same problems things change, (surveys get better), if you don't keep them updated their no good.

The "best" navigation would be a real time updated 3d picture showing water depth and underwater obstacles AKA google earth. Its spooky to rely entirely on a GPS giving directions, but that's the direction we are going. The last piloting course I took concentrated on GPS.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:38   #60
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The fewer bouys in the US has me concerned too, there is just not as much funding for it. Ditto for lighthouses. I keep paper charts aboard, and learned how to use them, but 99% of my navigating is by chartplotter, with a handheld GPS as backup. It is just too convenient. And it is right more often than I am.

Both paper charts and maps have the same problems things change, (surveys get better), if you don't keep them updated their no good.

The "best" navigation would be a real time updated 3d picture showing water depth and underwater obstacles AKA google earth. Its spooky to rely entirely on a GPS giving directions, but that's the direction we are going. The last piloting course I took concentrated on GPS.
I'm not trying to pick a fight or be rude, but convenience always has a price and by its definition it abstracts out a problem and reduces your ability to have more control over whatever was originally "inconvenient".

It would be much more convenient for me to use old 1/4" braided dacron for my anchor rode granny knotted to a 5# anchor. It's a bit of an extreme example, but where I'm going with it is that convenience is a very small advantage compared to the new (and often understated, especially by the person selling you the new convenient item) risks it presents.

I was listening to a the VHF this weekend as a guy couldn't get into San Diego Harbor because the datacard on his chartplotter didn't work. It's emblematic of trying to take sea going vessels and make them as convenient as a 4 door sedan.
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