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Old 10-08-2013, 12:07   #76
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Entering strange harbors at night is a very big challenge. How many of you have done it recently?
It is part of advanced standards that I teach. It may be strange to the students, but not me. I have been in before and will warn them of hazards that they miss in their planning. We plan it on paper, but I also use ALL tools available to be me.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:30   #77
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Re: GPS as the sole means of navigation.

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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
It's easy to get lulled into watching the screen and IMO one does so at one's own risk. In my local waters I pretty much know the area but, still keep a chart or chart book in the cockpit with me. I find it much easier to get the big picture of the area rather than fiddle around with the joystick of the GPS to look at some feature up ahead. This routine came in handy when my chart plotter's coverage area unexpectedly ended about a mile before I was to enter a new cove for me. Because I had my chart book nearby I just switched to that to navigate the channel into the cove.
This is thread drift, but in my opinion you really can't adequately study a complicated pilotage situation without paper. I know this is an old debate, but I can't help mentioning it in the context of this thread. The problem is that with electronic charts, you can never see the big picture -- details disappear when you zoom out, and when you zoom in, you lose the relationship between objects and hazards and lose orientation.

When I go into strange harbors -- which is nearly always in the day time, and by design! -- I always study the paper charts and try to memorize the hazards, buoyage, landmarks, etc. I set up waypoints on my plotter so that I can always be oriented to this or that critical point, and so that a direct path between the waypoints is always in safe water. I set up clearing bearings for major shoals or hazards. I write all this down on a sheet of paper which I keep in the cockpit with me as I go in. I follow this procedure strictly in complicated harbors; in really simple ones I might not do all of it. And I do it in harbors I know, too, not just strange ones, unless they are either very simple, or I have been in and out of them a million times like Poole or Portsmouth.


Now a couple of years ago, on this forum, Nick of Jedi told us about an interesting technique which he uses. I think we were talking about night pilotage then, too. He said that he programs on his plotter a route into the harbor, and lets his pilot steer this route automatically. This allows him to fully concentrate on visual pilotage, checking and double checking his position and progress along the route. I have never had the nerve to try this, but it actually makes sense when you think about it. Anything which improves your concentration and situational awareness must be a good thing.
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Old 10-08-2013, 13:34   #78
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

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in my opinion you really can't adequately study a complicated pilotage situation without paper. .

Ummm in your opinion YOU can't do it without paper.
That's fine.

But you have to remember there is a whole generation of people who can not use paper anything... books, newspapers, even restaurant menus.
When I was at university I could write essays long hand but now I couldn't write 100 words. But type them, no worries, and faster than I could ever write.

Give some young people a computer and they are much more comfortable than anything with paper. they are much more tactile with a computer that you will ever be and far less tactile with paper than you have ever been.

In the foreseeable future all paper will be removed from our lives, no snail mail letters, no writing cards, no paper bills, no magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, Christmas cards, board games.

The cruising world has been taken over by a few little bits of tech that have caught on to some older folks: Kindles. Some people wont touch them (I prefer proper books) but some older people now cannot read a book on paper!

Many people don't want to say Viva Le Future! But the future is going to viva no matter if you want it or not.


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Old 10-08-2013, 13:45   #79
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Re: GPS as the sole means of navigation.

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

Now a couple of years ago, on this forum, Nick of Jedi told us about an interesting technique which he uses. I think we were talking about night pilotage then, too. He said that he programs on his plotter a route into the harbor, and lets his pilot steer this route automatically. This allows him to fully concentrate on visual pilotage, checking and double checking his position and progress along the route. I have never had the nerve to try this, but it actually makes sense when you think about it. Anything which improves your concentration and situational awareness must be a good thing.
Thanks for sharing.... interesting to say the least!
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Old 10-08-2013, 14:53   #80
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Re: GPS as the sole means of navigation.

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
.............................. Now a couple of years ago, on this forum, Nick of Jedi told us about an interesting technique which he uses. I think we were talking about night pilotage then, too. He said that he programs on his plotter a route into the harbor, and lets his pilot steer this route automatically. This allows him to fully concentrate on visual pilotage, checking and double checking his position and progress along the route. I have never had the nerve to try this, but it actually makes sense when you think about it. Anything which improves your concentration and situational awareness must be a good thing.
In comparable way we do the same thing in times of poor visibility, challenging or questionable places. I'm not programing a plotter, but Nancie takes the helm following a predeterrmined plan and I'm free to watch for the unexpected and to check charts, radar and other instruments.
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Old 10-08-2013, 15:33   #81
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

GPS errors are small, but map errors can be significant.

A major advantage of non GPS navigation is that displacement of the map is less likely to induce an error. This seems to be the most common form of mapping error.
If approaching a difficult entrance navigational tools like clearance bearings, and transits are invaluable. Work these out beforehand. An electronic chart is fine for these sort of calculations (as it is for most other non GPS forms of navigation.)

A chartplotter is a fantastic tool for navigating difficult entrances with a small crew, much better than paper charts, but it does not mean you can turn off your brain.
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Old 10-08-2013, 16:00   #82
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

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Any landing you walk away from is a good landing, in my book.
...and it's a great landing if you can use the airplane again. (Just wanted to finish the joke.)

The real reason for this post is to refer members to this video, since I haven't seen it mentioned before.



It's 25 minutes and all about airplanes, but the speaker is excellent and some of you may enjoy the whole thing. But the point is made in the first minute that "automation dependence" is a very real problem, and that you can get trained into it without really being aware that it is happening. You've got to know, as the speaker points out, when to drop down a level or two of technology. And do it.
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Old 10-08-2013, 16:39   #83
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

I heard this on the radio a while ago – a lady rang in to tell the story of when she, her father and his fishing crew went on a trip to lord howe island back in the 60's. The boat was a small commercial fishing boat, the dad had taken a course in celestial nav. and had all the gear, and he had had a preoccupation with going to lord howe for some time. So off they went – setting out from sydney it was about 2-3 days to get there. With dad navigating eventually they had travelled about the appropriate amount of time but all they could see was open ocean. They spent a fair while searching for the island without success in deteriorating conditions. They had to turn back and return to the mainland. When they sighted the coast again the dad reckoned they were somewhere north of newcastle. But after pfaffing about for half a day he had to admit he really had no idea where they were and they contacted the coastguard. It turned out they were off moreton island which is about 800 miles north of sydney. Some years later the dad admitted to the daughter that he HAD done the navigation course, but neglected to mention at the time that he had comprehensively failed to pass it.
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Old 10-08-2013, 16:44   #84
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We love the GPS, iPAD and OpenCPN.

However, if given the choice, we would wipe out the GPS system and go back to the sextant.

Why? To declutter the islands and keep more cruisers in their armchairs!

The GPS improved navigation but filled the seas with pushbutton sailors. The epirbs also helped release the idiots from land.

Cruisers used to be hardened, independent, self reliant lateral thinkers. Many nowadays are the opposite.
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Old 10-08-2013, 16:55   #85
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

As far as night passaging goes, I used to rely quite a lot on the flash timing of various light houses when I did a lot of night sailing around the Hauraki Gulf – there a re quite a few islands near to Auckland so its a tricky place to sail at night but once you get used to the various light signatures its easy to place yourself by roughly triangulating off them. But I would do a very focussed planning session with the chart before I set out, to make sure I was aware of headlands and rocks and so forth that might be hazardous.
What I cant believe in the case of this navy ship is that, with all the manpower available to them, they didnt set a couple of blokes up with binoculars to keep a lookout for those particular hazards and make sure they had a visual confirmation of the safety or otherwise of their passage – particularly when they were approaching. That is just sloppy.
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Old 10-08-2013, 16:59   #86
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

I think the confusion over automation dependance, is not the issue in boating. In other industries we are talking about highly trained people that abdecate decision making to automated controls or often find that they are "task overloaded".

In boating , we still have significant levels of manual input and physical effort.

In navigation , all we have today is automated mapping and position fixing. All the decisions are still made by the nut behind the wheel. very few boats are in effect computer guided. All we have is replaced a laborious and error prone method of determining position and transferring that fix to a chart.

This is a clear task advantage. it should allow the skipper to concentrate on sailing, looking around and improving his situational awareness.

What we are confusing is skill deficiency, or experience deficit with automation dependancy. Perhaps in future years with interconnected autopilots, auto route selection and maybe auto sail controls, we can talk about automation dependancy, but today the comparison isn't valid and may never be.

We are in an activity characterised by little or no formal training, often experience is gained through a series of little mishaps, or perhaps with no mishaps at all, leaving the skipper with very little skill base. Then a situation occurs that is outside the experience level and we have little or no skill to fall back on.

the thing about common sense is that it is neither common, nor obviously makes sense at the time.

Now lets look at the title of this thread "GPS as a sole means of navigation"

Firstly position fixing , by whatever means IS NOT "navigation", it is a component, but simply having a LAT LON isn't much use to anyone.

The next component is transferring such position fixing onto a chart . Again , it matters not whether this is manually done or by technology.

We have still not come anywhere near the definition of "navigation"

Navigation is taking these inputs combining them with knowledge and skill to safety guide a vessel to its intended destination.

GPS ( and I suspect what most people means is automated position fixing and chart display) is exposing a problem where, unskilled operators are attempting tasks they would not otherwise do.

To me this is a skills and training deficiency not a function of automation. Automation is merely exposing such deficiencies.

If we intend to fill the cockpits of sailing vessels with all forms of controls, aids and automation, then we better mandate the necessary training and certification to go with it. Because Automation requires a good understanding of the nature and extent of such controls, their benefits and drawbacks, modes of use and when not to use them, knowing the "ON" button isn't enough




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Old 10-08-2013, 17:01   #87
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

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Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
We love the GPS, iPAD and OpenCPN.

However, if given the choice, we would wipe out the GPS system and go back to the sextant.

Why? To declutter the islands and keep more cruisers in their armchairs!

The GPS improved navigation but filled the seas with pushbutton sailors. The epirbs also helped release the idiots from land.

Cruisers used to be hardened, independent, self reliant lateral thinkers. Many nowadays are the opposite.

This is wishful thinking, no more then train drivers would like a return to steam, or certain pilots to ditch the computers. WHats needed is modern skills and training to understand such technology , its uses and limitations.

The percentage of idiots typically remains the same , years ago they just vanished beneath the waves.

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Old 10-08-2013, 17:21   #88
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Entering strange harbors at night is a very big challenge. How many of you have done it recently? Of course, there is a great range of difficulty - there are very easy ones like Weymouth or Cherbourg, then there are hellishly complicated ones like Plymouth or Portsmouth.
+1 on Portsmouth. I will not forget my YM exam that required me to enter Porsmouth for the first time at night, under sail with fast tidal stream and without GPS on a chartered boat. Now I know I can do it without a plotter but I do not plan on testing myself again unless it is an emergency!
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Old 10-08-2013, 17:33   #89
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

As I'm presently half way between Plymouth, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, Virginia. I hope everyone remembers the scope of this forum and that we're not all at the original namesakes. You can be easily misunderstood.
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Old 10-08-2013, 17:40   #90
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Re: GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.

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As I'm presently half way between Plymouth, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, Virginia. I hope everyone remembers the scope of this forum and that we're not all at the original namesakes. You can be easily misunderstood.

George , the colonials are acting uppity again, send in the gunboats

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