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Old 03-08-2014, 21:11   #61
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

I am an ex Air Force pilot and was trained in 1970. Electronics in those days were pretty elementary compared to what I have on my 2003 Hunter 356 I bought new and equipped to the hilt. I have flown numerous missions over the north Atlantic, Europe and in the Caribbean Sea. I have used all sorts of electronic aids including Spanish commercial radio stations to navigate with in Europe. I once flew through an unforecasted hurricane enroute to Puerto Rico. We also had paper charts, but used electronics for what we did. I have owned 5 planes since, all but one full of electronics and much more complicated to operate and navigate than a sailboat and a lot more sophisticated than my KC97. I was taught as a pilot to believe the instruments. I did and am alive to talk about it. I would have given anything for a GPS in those days as we used Celestial and LoranC when over water with an oscilloscope to peak the Loran. We took Loran fixes on the move as well as celestial fixes on the move, so the accuracy wasn't all that great. We also used RDF fixes off picket ships in the North Atlantic. Believe me, nobody really knew where they were in those days within 25 miles until they got near the coast and could pick up a Tacan or VOR station. We did get there though, in spite of our lack of accuracy. Compared to those days, navigating a sailboat with today's equipment is a piece of cake, much more redundant, and much more reliable. We also didn't have the search and rescue capability back then and knew we were on our own when traveling across the pond. We only had about 5 minutes in the North Atlantic if we had to ditch anyway.

I have one of the most electronically equipped sailboats in Kentucky Lake and have sailed it in the Gulf with one crossing of 50 hours, another 36 with just me and my inexperienced wife. I have sailed on other less equipped boats in the Gulf for the last 12 years during trips with others and on charters. I carry paper charts, but have never used them. I now have two IPhones, two IPads and other backup GPS. On my last day returning from Florida this spring, my Chartplotter quit and I lost it and my radar. I was on Kentucky Lake and very familiar with the river and used my IPhone to navigate, including during a driving rain, at night when meeting a southbound tow heading against my direction. I even used it with INavX to display AIS data to keep track of the tow that I would have used my radar for avoidance had it been available. I had a very powerful LED GoLight I also used. Fact is, you use everything you have if you are a sensible person. If all the electronics would fail I have a compass and the paper charts, but I doubt I'll ever see the day when I will need them.

Do I not use my eyeballs, absolutely not, but the electronics today are very reliable. My 11 year old, 2003 Raymarine system I thought was toast turned out to be a broken ground wire where connected at the mast when I took the mast down in Mobile I lost the ground when the vibration shook the wire loose on the trip north. Once cut off and reconnected it worked great again.


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Old 03-08-2014, 21:28   #62
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

Interesting to hear your air pilot history J Clark.

It gels with my own marine one that a +/- 25mile Offshore fix was accepted in the old days with a myriad of different techniques to improve on it as you get into tight and critical pilotage.

I wonder if the years of learning to scale your confidence in fixes will now be lost to us and a new generation of navigators who enjoy this incredible GPS based technology?
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Old 03-08-2014, 21:43   #63
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Putting Faith in Electronics

Pelagic

I think the people who didn't have our experience have a hard time not knowing exactly where they are. What we know is that in the big picture, it is only important to know exactly where you are when you are nearing a place that it is critical to thread the needle. When we got to Shannon Ireland on the way east over the North Atlantic we had to hit that point within 5 miles either side or get violated. That is when it mattered, and we made sure we hit it - including electronics and our paper charts and eyeballs.

I think reliance on the electronics for somebody who doesn't know how to dead recon could be a dangerous thing. For you and me, it's go with what you've got. In my day, we were fat, dumb and happy and didn't know any better. I have to admit, it is a lot more fun today than it was back then.


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Old 03-08-2014, 23:34   #64
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Originally Posted by captainstubbie View Post
Trust your instruments IFR not I am far

What say you?
I said earlier in the thread that I would trust my instruments but I would not trust your instruments until proven they are reliable.

There are no enforced standards for installation and maintenance of nav systems or battery systems on private boats.

Not only are there standards for aviation installation and maintenance every private aircraft is inspected by a certified inspector at least once every 12 months.

As I walk the docks and view boats I would estimate 50% or greater are sub-par in terms of maintenance. i.e. if they were airplanes they would be grounded.

I try to maintain my boat to a serviceable standard.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:40   #65
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Originally Posted by IdoraKeeper View Post
I once nearly ran aground on a very windy night trying to enter a harbour on a range. My new to me plotter saved me when it showed me leaving the channel. Turned out that what appeared to be the top light of the range was actually a forever red traffic light....guiding me right to the rocks....Mark9 eyeball failed, instruments were correct. When there is no reason to think your instruments are malfunctioning you better believe what they say. But old fashioned means are still there if they are needed.

Idora,
You were quite fortunate, indeed! Our favorite open roadstead anchorage on Lake Michigan appears 1/2 mile inland on our chartplotter. I'd hate to give that Lat/Lon to a friend entering at night. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:46   #66
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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wow, every 15 minutes that's a lot of faith in your electronic alarm I suppose
the timer is NOT electronic, its a cooking timer, and many times its little catnaps that get me throu the night when the weather goes bad.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:00   #67
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has brought up "potato navigation," an old pre-electronics technique that I'm told was sometimes used by coastwise Maine lumber schooners when piloting in pea-soup fog.

The basic principle was to station a man with a good arm on the foredeck with a bushel of potatoes. Every few minutes he'd chuck a potato straight ahead as far as he could. If a splash was heard, the helmsman would hold the course. If a "thud" was heard, he'd tack.



PS: I've never used this technique... my catboat doesn't have a foredeck.
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Old 05-08-2014, 06:35   #68
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Originally Posted by Ukeluthier View Post
I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has brought up "potato navigation," an old pre-electronics technique that I'm told was sometimes used by coastwise Maine lumber schooners when piloting in pea-soup fog.

The basic principle was to station a man with a good arm on the foredeck with a bushel of potatoes. Every few minutes he'd chuck a potato straight ahead as far as he could. If a splash was heard, the helmsman would hold the course. If a "thud" was heard, he'd tack.



PS: I've never used this technique... my catboat doesn't have a foredeck.
LOL, I've heard of that technique too, and been out in downeast fog where it might have been helpful. Headed east by Bass Harbor Light, with visibility about twice the length of my 35' boat, and ledges only about 100 yards from the well marked channel I was in, I heard a call to the Coast Guard that someone (who sounded very panicked) had gone aground by Bass Harbor Light and I could hear a boat nearby gunning it's engines. But there was nothing at all I could think of that I might do to help except stay off the radio and out of the way, so I proceeded onward towards Southwest Harbor as I listened to the CG radio operator play the usual 20 questions with him, and about 15 minutes later as I was approaching the turn by the Long Ledge nun, someone else again came onto 16 and said they were aground and taking on water on South Bunker Ledge, less than 1/4 mile to starboard, but once again, in fog that thick and in a boat that probably drew more than either of the ones that had gone aground, I couldn't think of anything I could do to help. I proceeded onward towards SW Harbor looking carefully at my radar screen and sure enough, a few minutes later I got a slight return from about a 30' Coast Guard boat headed out to rescue them, and then another one came flying by, presumably headed to the second boat that was aground. Both were going fast and passed barely within sight, which meant less than 100' away, sort of nerve wracking as I watched them leap ahead, seemingly coming directly towards me, with each sweep of the radar. I probably should have made a securite call but I was so busy verifying that I was still where I thought I was, and crosschecking my radar and straining to see through the fog, that I didn't think of it. A few minutes later I heard lots of back and forth between the CG and the second boat as the CG boat was concerned after arriving at South Bunker Ledge and finding no sign of a sinking boat. Later, I heard that the boat claiming to be aground on South Bunker Ledge had actually gone aground on Great Cranberry Island, about 1/2 mile from South Bunker, so both boats had gone aground, within 15 minutes of each other on solid land and one of them didn't even know which land. That was in the days of Loran, and since GPS and chartplotters have become more commonplace, situations like this seem to a lot less common. I was happy to get safely onto my mooring in SW Harbor.
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Old 05-08-2014, 13:39   #69
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

That sounds like a board stretcher to me.
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Old 05-08-2014, 13:49   #70
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

Quote:
I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has brought up "potato navigation," an old pre-electronics technique that I'm told was sometimes used by coastwise Maine lumber schooners when piloting in pea-soup fog.

The basic principle was to station a man with a good arm on the foredeck with a bushel of potatoes. Every few minutes he'd chuck a potato straight ahead as far as he could. If a splash was heard, the helmsman would hold the course. If a "thud" was heard, he'd tack.
Seems like a variation on the old system of sending out a loud sound--horn, whistle, trumpet, or even a voice call, and waiting to hear an echo back. Even in fog, one can project a sound farther than one can throw a potato, giving a little more time to correct the course to get out of danger. Furthermore, by counting seconds between sending the signal and receiving an echo, one can apply the speed of sound and estimate distance as well.
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Old 05-08-2014, 13:54   #71
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

Fog lies. There's no way I'd count on an echo in fog.
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Old 05-08-2014, 14:21   #72
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Fog lies. There's no way I'd count on an echo in fog.
At least in the PNW its noisy too. A cacophony of horns and roaring Bayliner engines all blotted out by stupendous ferry horns. Last year encountered two guys in a dink outside Roche...totally lost in the pea soup. They followed us in to the bay. Couldn't even see well enough to wave goodbye. I hid behind a big cutter named Thor till it lifted...what a day. No plotter and radar? Your lost!
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Old 05-08-2014, 14:35   #73
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Fog lies. There's no way I'd count on an echo in fog.
I read that as "Frog lies." and was reminded of the joke with the punchline: "Sheep lies!". It's even funnier with a frog. Sorry for the drift.
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Old 05-08-2014, 15:34   #74
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

"I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has brought up "potato navigation," an old pre-electronics technique that I'm told was sometimes used by coastwise Maine lumber schooners when piloting in pea-soup fog." Uke


Uke,
Do you think perhaps this practice was the origin of the American Toy "Mr. Potato Head?" If so, could we rightly assume that with the advent of cruising couples his counterpart-- "Mrs. Potato head made her debut? I wonder if those potatoes truly enhanced the aforementioned pea soup? I think, upon further reflection, I would have been an early advocate of electronic navigation along the New England coast. Good luck, good sailing and may the eyes of your potatoes find their mark.
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Old 05-08-2014, 16:47   #75
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Re: Putting Faith in Electronics

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Fog lies. There's no way I'd count on an echo in fog.
Frankly, I wouldn't trust sound location either now; back in the 19th century and before, it was a viable if imperfect technique, but if you were close enough to hear the sound echo back in fog you were probably already doomed unless moving very slowly.
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