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Old 10-09-2014, 09:37   #1
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Passage Planning

While reading the "I love cruising because it teaches humility" thread I was thinking about passage planning. My groundings occurred because of poor planning.

How many use a passage plan process before heading out? Or do you just go?

When teaching navigation I have used a two-part process. The first is a go /no go decision. The second is a more detailed plan. The following is a link to the process.

http://www3.telus.net/jackdale/navle...20Planning.pdf

While not mentioned in the document, we use danger / clearing bearings for charted, but unmarked, hazards.

I have made "no go" decisions a few times; I have turned back from "Around Vancouver Island" trips three times.

BTW - if anyone has any constructive comments about the contents I would be pleased to make amendments. I have spotted some typos that I need to fix.


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Old 10-09-2014, 10:32   #2
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Re: Passage Planning

Jackdale

Three comments

1-I always like to define the go no/go parameters beforehand

2- identify harbors of refuge- places I can pull into if things go south.

3- places of desperation nearest landfall if it all goes to $hit

But as others have said, sometimes I over plan. But I recognize the second thing to get broken in an emergency is "the plan".
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:16   #3
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Re: Passage Planning

your passage planning check list is great,but one thing you have ommitted to list, that i feel is paramont on any passage,and during the planning stage is your information sources in hard copy on board.

these i like to have to hand when planning any passage,and onboard when making the passage
.
current tide tables
tidal current chart
large and small scale charts of area.
pilot guide with harbour plans for the region(i use imray almanack for atlantic and med regions)
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:21   #4
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Re: Passage Planning

Passage planning is a pretty individual thing, so I'm not sure how interesting my way of doing it will be to anyone.

I do sometimes "just go" -- if settled weather, non-tidal waters, and familiar route, little is needed. Calling ahead for a berth, or maybe not even that, might be the extent of planning in these limited circumstances.

In tidal waters, however, my passage planning might take hours -- for a complicated Channel crossing, for example.

For a cross-Channel to the Channel Islands, for example, I would do the following:

1. Tidal streams out of the Solent -- what's the window? When is the optimal time (to take advantage of strong favorable streams)?

2. Is there an optimal crossing time? Neptune+ will calculate this based on various scenarios of average boat speed -- the differences can be profound even though most of the streams are perpendicular to your path.

3. Is there a tidal gate at the other end? The Alderney Race, for example? Can you be sure of making it before the tide turns? If somethings happens and you can't, can you bug out to Cherbourg, or some other place? Is there a tidal height limitation at the other end -- a port you can't get into at low tide? Locks maybe? What do you do if you miss your window -- is there someplace to anchor in shelter?

4. Weather -- what is the risk of stronger weather than you are willing to be out in? Is there risk of strong weather against tide at the other end? Is there a bar to get across? What are your contingency plans if the weather turns out worse than predicted? Ports of refuge along the way? I make a thorough catalogue of these with all their characteristics. My personal limits for planning are F8 as long as the wind is not ahead of the beam and subject to wind over tide situations. I try hard to avoid anything over F6 if I have to go upwind. If the wind is predicted to be above these levels, I will usually not go if that is an option. If it gets over these levels while underway, I will consider aborting to a port of refuge if one is available, unless I'm having a great downhill run in something stronger, and the sea state is manageable. I really don't care about rain and usually don't even check this. I might have a look at visibility.

5. Calculation of a course to steer across tidal waters. I used to do this by hand; nowadays I use Neptune+. Usually in three variants for various scenarios of boat speed -- 7, 8, and 9 knots if there's a nice sailing wind and my bottom is clean. Having this worked out thoroughly in advance makes it easy to adjust your CTS as you go along.

6. Hazards, headlands, etc. A close analysis, using paper charts, of the predicted course and all hazards along the way. I make notes of these, try to memorize them, and often put waypoints into my plotter with a skull & crossbones icon, to remind me at the helm where hazards are. At the same time, I mark on the chart where I expect to be hour by hour, which makes it much easier to be oriented as to my progress, and much easier to figure out how to deal with deviations from plan. These marks also make it easy to check how well your CTS is working out compared to plan -- also you can compare XTE from your instruments to your distance from the rhumb line, hour by hour. I do rely on my plotter for avoiding hazards, and no longer calculate clearing bearings in advance, just for the really freak chance that all my plotters go out -- waste of time IMHO. I always have paper charts, and if every electronic device on the boat were to be taken out by lightning, for example, I would just heave to and work out clearing bearings.

7. Watches and assigned roles for the crew.

8. Plan meals underway.

9. Harbor pilotage at destination. I study the charts and try to memorize the layout, channels, landmarks and main features of the destination harbor -- especially if its a new harbor for me, and doubly especially if entering at night. Experience has taught me that this is extremely important. If you don't do your homework you run a great risk of being disoriented when you arrive, which can be very dangerous.

10. And, obviously -- plan the route, with waypoints to get you past headlands and through hazards, etc. Put the waypoints in the plotter. Sometimes I construct a route out of them on the plotter, but often not. Calculate the distances for planning time.

That's mostly it on my boat. Most of the effort, in tidal waters, goes to getting the timing right.

On a coastwise passage in tidal waters, it is somewhat simpler. If the passage can be done in one tide (typically 50 or 60 miles), then the main thing is to work out the optimum departure time, to make sure you don't run out of tide. And to be sure that your arrival time is ok for crossing entrance bars and getting into harbors.


I guess the main difference between my approach and Jackdale's is I do little or nothing which is solved with the plotter -- I don't calculate bearings to landmarks, lights, etc., since I get this information at a glance from the plotter. I think these exercises can be useful, and certainly the skills are, but I prefer not to spend too much time on such things since they are a distraction from doing the things which the plotter can't do. I have two different fully independent backups to my main plotter and consider electronic plotting to be mission-critical. If everything electronic goes up in smoke and I lose all my backups, then I will heave to and do all of the chartwork and manual calculations, but otherwise I will not spend time on this.
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:25   #5
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Re: Passage Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
your passage planning check list is great,but one thing you have ommitted to list, that i feel is paramont on any passage,and during the planning stage is your information sources in hard copy on board.

these i like to have to hand when planning any passage,and onboard when making the passage
.
current tide tables
tidal current chart
large and small scale charts of area.
pilot guide with harbour plans for the region(i use imray almanack for atlantic and med regions)
Absolutely. While not on the list, these are among the required publications for navigation.

When I am planning I also have tide and current calculation worksheets completed in advance.

http://swiftsuresailing.com/documents/tide.pdf

http://swiftsuresailing.com/documents/current.pdf
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:28   #6
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Re: Passage Planning

Not just using charts and pilot books, but a need to check local notices to mariners just prior to departure. Buoys especially are prone to being damaged, or out of position, and nothing worse when making a harbour entry at night and finding the unexpected.

Round my way, fairways can shift considerably due to actions of the tidal streams, and the buoys are moved accordingly. There will be big discrepancy between charted positions and actual positions.

Just a quick phone call to the harbour master can prevent those heart stopping moments.
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:37   #7
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Re: Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by nigel1 View Post
Not just using charts and pilot books, but a need to check local notices to mariners just prior to departure.
On The West Coast of Canada we get notices to shipping with our VHF marine weather forecasts. That includes buoyage issues. One that we listen for very carefully is whether or not military exercise areas are active.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:41   #8
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Re: Passage Planning

There is definitely a difference between sailing South Florida and Caribbean waters than sailing in high latitudes and along the European coast. The knowledge and experience needed for the latter is vastly greater and requires a higher level of passage planning and competency. Tidal ranges, tidal races, counter currents, formidable shorelines and increased commercial traffic must be considered. Kudos to these sailors.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:07   #9
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Re: Passage Planning

Not included on your list, but also sometimes relevant, are the following:

* bridge opening times and procedures

* customs/immigrations procedures and advanced notification

* security zones (e.g. around LNG tankers and military vessels) -- I was once hailed by an aircraft carrier well beyond the horizon advising of live fire activities in the area and warning me to steer clear!

* provisioning (included in equipment?) -- how many extra days can we stay out if we need to
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:32   #10
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Re: Passage Planning

I think you are planning for the weekend sailor, not the cruiser. Cruiser passage planning is not a matter of go or no-go, its go now or go later.
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Old 11-09-2014, 13:11   #11
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Re: Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
I think you are planning for the weekend sailor, not the cruiser. Cruiser passage planning is not a matter of go or no-go, its go now or go later.
Good distinction.
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Old 14-09-2014, 10:23   #12
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Re: Passage Planning

Here is a recent example of 'how NOT to plan from Gcaptain:

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch has released its report from an investigation into the September 2013 grounding of the chemical tanker Ovit in the Dover Strait.

Early on September 18, 2013, the Malta registered tanker Ovit ran aground on the Varne Bank in the Dover Strait while carrying a cargo of vegetable oil. The vessel remained aground for just under 3 hours, there was no injuries or pollution, and damage to the vessel was considered superficial.

Through their investigation, MAIB found that poor use of the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) was the primary factor in the incident. The investigation showed that Ovit’s primary means of navigation was the ECDIS display, which the officer of the watch followed even though the route shown passed directly over the Varne Bank, and MAIB said the analysis of this system, its installation, training and operation formed the backbone of their report.

Key safety factors identified by the investigation were:

The passage was planned by an inexperienced and unsupervised junior officer. The plan was not check by the master before departure or by the officer of the watch at the start of his watch.
The ship’s position was monitored solely against the intended track shown on the ECDIS. Navigational marks on the Varne bank were seen by not acted upon.
The scale of the chart shown on ECDIS was inappropriate. The operator-defined settings applied to the system were unsuitable and the system’s audible alarm did not work.
The officer of the watch’s situational awareness was so poor that it took him 19 minutes to realize that Ovit was grounded.
Although training in the use of the ECDIS fitted to the vessel had been provided, the master and deck officers were unable to use system effectively.
A Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) procedure, which should have alerted Ovit’s officer of the watch as the tanker approached the Varne Bank, was not followed because the procedure had not been formalized and an unqualified and unsupervised CNIS operator was distracted.


These professionals needed a bit more training--its pretty scary that there are ships out there like this one.
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Old 14-09-2014, 10:52   #13
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Re: Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post

These professionals needed a bit more training--its pretty scary that there are ships out there like this one.
The training needs to be accompanied by learning.
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Old 14-09-2014, 11:14   #14
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Re: Passage Planning

Quote:
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. . .
The scale of the chart shown on ECDIS was inappropriate. . . .
The eternal problem with electronic charts.
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Old 14-09-2014, 17:00   #15
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Quote:
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The eternal problem with electronic charts.
If..

The passage was planned by an inexperienced and unsupervised junior officer.


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