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Old 08-05-2012, 06:38   #106
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
guess one could blame all the old shipwrecks prior to GPS on charts/compass/sextant if we are going to blame the GPS as the cause of the ones after chartplotters were invented

in the end it isn't the GPS or the paper chart, it is the sailor
Don, where above is anyone blaming the box?

And...If ships and boats are running aground at essentially the same rate today that they have for ages, then are the latest wide screen, touch screen, wifi, 4D, navigation tools a "necessity"?

Heck, why not just save your money and roll with it.

Again, its the automation of the process, and how that affects the way you think, that one needs to be wary of.

So, yeah its the sailor.

Always has been:

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Old 08-05-2012, 08:03   #107
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

Not sure if this has been brought up yet or not, didn't read all 8 pages, but IMO paper chart plotting can be tricky in coastal situations when short-handed (for instance the Chessie or Puget Sound). IMO if you are short-handed a chart plotter is a big time saver which lets you keep a better lookout. For instance- If you are sailing there is typically a breeze present and I find it a pain to try to read a paper chart in a stiff breeze let alone plot on one in the cockpit. So, you're taking a LOB or a range, etc., going down below, plotting, taking another LOB or range, etc, going down below, plotting, opps a few minutes have passed and my running fixes aren't working out, better take another fix...wait, what is that sailboat doing? Dang, wind shifted, need to tack and go around that sailboat. After tacking, maneuvering, and looking at contacts for a minute or two, you realize you need to go and plot your position, or maybe I can just be lazy and DR out from my turn time...did I turn five minutes ago or nine? And so on...

Granted , in the examples of the Chessie or Puget Sound, physical plotting on a paper probably aren't even needed, especially if you are familiar with the area, but if just using your eyeballs anyway what is the harm in also having an electronic chart (chartplotter) accessible in the cockpit that won't fly away or get soaked?


Sailing "old school" with a crew and maybe a dedicated navigator? Sure, sounds fun! Trying to use only paper charts on a three day weekend coastal jaunt with the family? Sounds like a receipe for drama to me. I can see it now, honey, quit trying to make lunch for the kids, I need to you plot our position and compute the set/drift!

I'll stick with my chartplotter, with my backups of iPad, then iPhone x2, then OpenCPN, then handheld GPS x2, and finally paper plotting.

EDIT: But all that said, no a chartplotter is not required. It is a "really nice to have".

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Old 08-05-2012, 19:15   #108
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

I would like to point out the question posed "Is chart plotter nessestity..." the answer quite simply is no, chart plotters are not *nessesry*, simply a tool that takes the need for thought out of navigating and makes it "point and shoot". Nothing in the world has changed that makes navigating more difficult that a few years ago.
I have electronic as well as paper charts, a GPS and back up handheld GPS, two sextants as well as two mounted and a handheld compass.I am more conifident in the "old school" than the vuneralbilities of electronics
An old geezer who used to teach navigation said he emphasized to his stuidents use as many different forms of information input as possible, if there is a descrepancy, check both (he missed Bermuda because the student in charge of navigation for the day trusted the electronic position over the sextant
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Old 08-05-2012, 19:59   #109
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It is the idea that the chart plotter is "point and shoot" that is flawed.

It is a chart. It is integrated with position information.

One can draw a line on paper that goes through and island. One can set a waypoint on a plotter that goes through an island. It is fundamentally the same error.

Those that believe the chartplotter is point and shoot have not learned to use the navigation equipment, I am amazed when I sail with skippers who have never been off the map page of their multi-boat-buck plotters. They also tend to use the gps information for speed only.

The main advantage of the chart plotter for coastal cruising is having zoomable map data at hand without having paper blowing all over the cockpit. Position information is interesting but the skipper who is not paying attention to landmarks and navigation buoys is pretty much a dumbass.

One big advantage of the plotter at night, at least the one I use, is that I can put the cursor over a buoy and click it. I then get the buoy data in plain english including the light periods and frequency. In our light polluted harbors this really makes finding the buoys a lot easier.

Sure you can do this with paper but the the chartplotter definitely allows more heads up time. Quite useful in finding buoys and avoiding tankers at night - and we have more than our share in Singapore.

Argue ad nauseum about whether the gps fix is accurate. If you are in sight of land the gps position is a moot point. If the weather is bad the sextant is useless. In harbor the sextant is useless. I'd rather have two gps, chart data and my eyeballs on the coast.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:23   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif
It is the idea that the chart plotter is "point and shoot" that is flawed.

It is a chart. It is integrated with position information.
At the risk of speaking for our good friend Wolfenze, I believe by point and shoot he was referring to the chartplotter's ability to give position info, track data, routing, chart data, radar, etc, at a push or click of a button. Wolfenze doesn't strike me as the type to blindly follow a chartplotter.

But I agree with your whole post- good points brought up.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:31   #111
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

As far as "heads up time" I find I have more heads up time looking at the world around me rather than a display screen.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:44   #112
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

...not if you don't have one! I think the people that use them are the same people I see texting while driving their cars.

And I think that's rude and snobbish. Just post and put almost everyone down. How superior you sound. You've read plenty of posts about how people do NOT rely solely on their chart plotters, and yet you say something like that.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:46   #113
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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Originally Posted by sidmon View Post
The fine print that all the manufacturers ship with their recreational chart plotters...

Garmin:
  • Use the electronic chart in the unit only to facilitate, not to replace, the use of authorized government charts. Official government charts and notices to mariners contain all information needed to navigate safely.
  • Use this unit only as a navigational aid. Do not attempt to use the unit for any purpose requiring precise measurement of direction, distance, location, or topography.
Raymarine:

This product is intended to serve only as an aid to navigation. Use of specific features such as to AIS overlay, radar, and various cartographic aids are meant only to aid safety and decision-making. These features cannot be relied upon as complete or accurate as their use and availability may vary locally. It is your responsibility to use caution, sound judgement, official government charts, notices to mariners and proper navigational skill when using this or any other electronic device.
Electronic charts are an aid to navigation designed to facilitate the use of authorized government charts, not to replace them. Only official government charts and notices to mariners contain the current information needed for safe navigation. The Captain is responsible for their prudent use. The E-Series and its charts do not therefore exclude the user from carrying the required official charts and documents.


I could go on through Standard Horizon B&G etc, but it would be redundant as they all say the same thing...

OF COURSE!

The person never said should I have ONLY a chart plotter.

And why do you think all those disclaimers are there? Because a gadget maker is more likely to get sued than a printer of charts.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:47   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoPowers

At the risk of speaking for our good friend Wolfenze, I believe by point and shoot he was referring to the chartplotter's ability to give position info, track data, routing, chart data, radar, etc, at a push or click of a button. Wolfenze doesn't strike me as the type to blindly follow a chartplotter.

But I agree with your whole post- good points brought up.
Good point and point taken about Wolfenze. My comment was aimed more at the idea that a plotter is point and shoot. It really isn't.

You can set two waypoints and create a rhumb line. The plotter says nothing about currents, set, etc. or even if the course is navigable.

The navigator must still verify he has a navigable course and then must update the position to determine if Mag heading is working or not to keep on the rhumb line.

@Wolfenze - It is interesting to argue that looking at "nothing" allows the most heads up time. That is a no brainer and in a familiar harbor - one's own backyard - it may not be neccesary to refer to a chart, paper or otherwise. I mean who uses their Nuvi to go the the grocery store? But I have approached Singapore at night and crossed the Staits at night. This is not a place you want to be out of position or even have a hint at being lost. The plotter is a great tool when used properly and in this situation beats paper hands down.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:49   #115
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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Originally Posted by sailpower View Post
No compass? Plotting tools are a luxury too, I guess.

No question that a responsible operator needs to understand basic navigation principles. Also no question that a lot donít. Technology is probably the reason for that.

But technology has its place in the equation. Back in the 60ís and early 70ís I made patrols on a nuclear submarine. We would be underwater for 60-75 days at a time. We used inertial navigation systems (SINS) that were basically DR machines. We trailed a wire for real time Loran C and got a satellite fix every night. That pass took 15 minutes of tracking and 20-25 minutes of computing to let us know where we had been.

The QMís kept a DR plot but it was the technology that gave the missiles the accurate position information that they and the boat needed. Also, the QMís would come back to the Nav Center to plot updates to their DR.

My point is that there is room for everything and a prudent navigator should use everything available.

Back in the 80ís I took a 34í sailboat from Bermuda to BVIís. Granted its 1,000 miles due south so not a real navigation challenge but we used DR and sun sites and were 20 miles set to the west when we got there because we didnít allow for current. Iím guessing a GPS would have nailed it except they didnít exist then. Would have been a lot dryer finishing the trip.
The attitude that "
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey

me comes from the school of thought that if you couldn't get somewhere with only a pencil and a chart you would be unwise to be there in the first place."

would mean that we will have no new sailors, because those are skills that develop over time.

I use my chart plotter. I use it all the time. I've been sailing every day since Last Wednesday. I study the paper chart, keep it by my side, not the Lat and Long in my log every half hour ... and use the chart plotter, which has more information buried in it than you can print on a piece of paper.

I use both, and truly I think anyone who turns their nose up at new equipment would be as foolish as a sailor who refused to look at the newly invented compass because he could read the stars.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:51   #116
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

"I'm sure when the first caveman decided to attach a wooden handle to his rock and call it a hammer, there were a bunch of idiots standing around the campfire telling him it was never going to be as reliable as just a rock, that if he couldn't hit something with just a rock he had no business hitting things. "

BRAVO!!!!!!!
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:53   #117
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate
...... My worry is that a newbie (like the OP) will buy the plotter and never have any inclination to learn the basics of pilotage and navigation, and thus be ill equipped if there is a failure of any part of his e-systems, or to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of the plotter in the areas of the world where charting is suspect......

Nice post , Jim

much as I love a cheap laptop and opencpn, one thing it doesn't add is the constant and fairly intense attention which comes from never being entirely sure how accurate your position fix was... "

But the OP never SAID any such thing! So we're IIMAGINING flaws in someone else with no justification.
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Old 08-05-2012, 20:58   #118
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
1. A handheld GPS is simply a small chartplotter. I have no idea why so many folks think otherwise. I guess I'll find out....

2. Here's someone who has all the bells & whistles and explains what they have and how they use it.

Sequitur

There are undoubtedly thousands of blogs just like this one, but it's here to respond to the OP question.

Reliance on only one means of navigation is just plain stupid. Even before they invented the pencil and the chart, the guys frolicking around the Mediterranean figured that one out.

I share the concern that too many folks out cruising as we speak don't know anything but electronics.

And I particularly wonder about those folks who have those huge displays behind their wheels. I have a friend who gets dizzy when she watches the compass, that'd drive her bonkers. I like the idea expressed about having the display up behind the dodger, a much better place.

"1. A handheld GPS is simply a small chartplotter. I have no idea why so many folks think otherwise. I guess I'll find out...."

Technically, yes. In reality the screen is so small that it can't really do what it does best in a slightly larger version. I have a handheld as a backup. I can EASILY connect what I'm seeing on my bigger chart plotter to what is on the paper plot. I can zoom in on the CP -- can't do that on paper.

But on the handheld, the picture is so small that I find it harder to connect what I see on the handheld to the paper chart. The only thing I would use my handheld for would be to get an accurate lat and long -- although that's a big "only."
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:00   #119
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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This is an interesting discussion. I see it as pointing to a very basic thing, a fundamental aspect of seamanship. For a very long time now man has been developing better ways of determining position and heading. Early developments were the compass, followed by the astrolabe, sextant, chronometer, RDF, radar, Loran, GPS, etc. Every single one of these things made life easier for the seaman. They told him more about where he was, what was there, etc.

But there is also the other side of the equation. Which is that with devices telling him more and more, he needs less and less to supply this awareness himself. And so this can breed a lessening of awareness of the world around oneself.

In my experience human beings have the capacity to do remarkable things. But frequently these remarkable performances only occur because the person has to pull them off. Necessity is a remarkable motivator.

Generally speaking, we all prefer to take the easy way out. And so, with most people, most of the time, if you give them a choice between buying an electronic box which "tells them what to do and when to do it", and putting in a significant amount of time to learn the skills necessary to do without the box, they will pick the box. And their attention will be on the box. It's their prime data source.

Moitissier, when he taught sailing, would require his students to hold a course at night without using the compass. He didn't want their attention on the compass. He wanted it out on the environment. This required more work, knowing the night sky and referencing a nav table for azimuth for a star maybe, or being able to steer by feeling wind direction, whatever. His point was to require the student be aware of his environment, not focused on an instrument.

The way I see it, for all of us, our experience out on the water, or anywhere else, is not a set thing or a constant. It is variable, dependent on the level of our understanding and awareness of the environment. Paying more attention to what's out there pays a dividend of enhanced, deeper experience.

I don't think many seamen would choose not to have some of the modern nav aids. GPS is marvelous. But in my honest opinion they can be overdone. And in my opinion new sailors starting out who learn to pay attention to electronics instead of attention to the world around them are missing out on some great stuff.

"But there is also the other side of the equation. Which is that with devices telling him more and more, he needs less and less to supply this awareness himself. And so this can breed a lessening of awareness of the world around oneself."


I'm not comfortable with such sweeping generalizations. You THINK that MIGHT happen, but you don't know that it will.
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:03   #120
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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The best argument against electronic charts that I have heard is that the medium on which they are displayed....chart plotter, laptop, phone.. will eventually fail.

But let's get this into perspective, just how disastrous would it be for most people? I would expect all but a very small percentage could get to a safe haven without a chart. For that small percentage, I would expect that they had already thought this eventuality through and had some backup in place. Paper charts, spare laptop(s), chart aps on phones, tablets - the medium is of little importance. The fact that a backup may be necessary may be of great importance.

At the other end of the scale, the worst argument against electronic charts I have heard is that there is an assumption that the user will doggedly follow the gps derived position into danger. This is clearly a case of the user using the tool inappropriately, rather than a failure of the tool itself.

Competent use of the navigation tool for its intended purpose is the issue. The same could be said for any navigation tool.

"At the other end of the scale, the worst argument against electronic charts I have heard is that there is an assumption that the user will doggedly follow the gps derived position into danger. This is clearly a case of the user using the tool inappropriately, rather than a failure of the tool itself."

That's just stupidity, and you can't fix stupid. Yes. A chart plotter plots a course as the crow flies -- right over reefs, shoals, only slightly submerged wrecks, etc.

On the other hand, it helps you steer accurately AROUND those spots because you know exactly where you are. So it's a time saver. I had a car GPS once that was a little ... challenged. One time it told me to turn right -- off a viaduct. Another time it wanted me to drive across a softball field. That sort of thing happens on the water all the time.
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