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Old 04-04-2011, 11:39   #16
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Since the time man put a log into the water to get to a new location, sailors have been at the forefront of technology. It's funny to watch people complain about the lack of navigation skills of others while sitting under their $10,000 computer-cut Dacron sails. Or using lubricants and sealants that didn't exist a dozen years ago to keep their boat in good shape.

The thing to ask yourself is, do you carry a full mechanics toolbox and spares in your car? It wasn't that many years ago that you had to be a mechanic to drive a car. I remember my first car purchase - I made sure I had a set of tools buried, just in case. I literally don't have a screwdriver in my car today let alone a spare set of spark plugs or the ability to add oil. Why? Because it's gotten so incredibly reliable.

Boating is the same way. We've gotten to the point where reliability has allowed more people with fewer skills to enjoy the benefits. That's a fantastic thing and I'm excited about it. I want to see more people involved with it, not less. And that will come by making it easier and using the technology that's available.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:59   #17
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

The "technology" of a Macgregor and a skipper who was too busy doing something other than being a qualified seaman managed to kill two people last week here in San Diego. The USCG had to go off the coast of Mexico and pick up some clown and his dog who had the boat and the gear but not the chops.

I'm all for having more people enjoying the water but the lower you make the barrier the entry the less skills you need to have, and between brokers and vendors peddling their wares no one is reminding these new people that indeed seamanship goes beyond a chartplotter.

If a car breaks down, you pull over to the side of the road. I don't use computer-cut dacron sails and yeah, we can repair them ourselves. It's not exactly rocket science.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:02   #18
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Yes we probably have become too dependant on GPS, but then I thought the same when I graduated from deadreconning to RDF then Loran. A good mariner is always aware of his surroundings and uses tools such as GPS to enhance the situation, not control it.The skills of a mariner are always evolving with the situation at hand, or the sea claims the mariner. It's a fact of life, and I DO like GPS and would miss it if it were gone, but move on.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:09   #19
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Or, perhaps not reliant enough? I would guess that even a free iPhone navigation app would have kept these teenagers off the beach. Or a depth sounder with an alarm, or a radar with an alarm, or a pair of eyes on the deck...

Saltaire38: The Wreck of the LePapillon on March 31, 2011 Recalls Fire Island's centuries old reputation as a graveyard for navigation.

(the stories are that all three teenage crew were down below when the boat hit the beach)
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:19   #20
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

One should know how to use any navigational aids one has on board; they all compliment each other and can be useful in double checking. There is nothing wrong with having a system that one favors over the others on board, but redundancy is a good thing when it comes to navigation; just make sure one knows how to use the tools at hand efficiently.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:20   #21
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

I always keep track of course and have current, speed, deviation, celestial (on computer & accurate timepiece) info available so that at any time could revert to dead reckoning or a sextant reading. Threw the LORAN and RDF over the side years ago. GPS is great but awareness of present location and knowing what's ahead is common sense. Love that "road" display... Just think how hard it used to be to calculate course made good!
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:21   #22
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
The "technology" of a Macgregor and a skipper who was too busy doing something other than being a qualified seaman managed to kill two people last week here in San Diego.
Ships with more technology than NASA have accidents, hit bridges, split their hulls, and do incredible amounts of damage. These ships also have multiple career-long professionals navigating and piloting.

Take away the technology and schooners of yore were continually going up on the rocks, being blasted apart, and killing most crew onboard. It's pretty easy to find statues in major coastal towns dedicated to sailors lost at sea.

The fact is that one single incident means nothing. It doesn't matter if it happened last week or is happening right now. Ten incidents mean nothing. The obvious trend is that everything is safer and more reliable today. And that is because of technology and GPS.

How incredible is it to be having this argument in a medium that didn't exist until just a few years ago and is based solely on technology. I hope I'm never looking out on life and thinking how good it used to be before there were all these new things...
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:25   #23
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

In aviation the danger of sophisticated electronics is not that pilots forget celestial navigation. It's the danger of insufficient training and proficiency, and the threat of becoming overwhelmed with too much information, leading to task saturation, loss of situational awareness, and an accident. I bet the same is true in boating.

Imagine a sailor equipped with a brand new suite of chartplotters, radar, AIS, sailing instruments, etc. Now imagine that sailor single-handing in a pea-soap fog, with a generous swell, navigating amongst numerous rock ledges and moving radar targets. It's easy to get overwhelmed.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:27   #24
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Just finished and passed my Yachtmaster theory 12 hours ago. It was pretty tough and I had to resit several tests for which I didn't manage the pass score at first attempt. It didn't even touch on electronics which I find strange. I think today's courses should embrace today's technology because all of us will be using the electronics more than our HB pencils. Having said that, I think to pass all the navigational theory does give a broader understanding of what I'm doing when I switch a chart plotter on, particularly in areas with strong tidal flows. I think that the traditional navigational courses are complimentary to the electronics. I was over 45 years of age when I started sailing so I don't learn as quick as I used to. I'd highly recommend late starters like me doing all the nav theory just to add to their confidence and general knowledge base.

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Old 04-04-2011, 12:38   #25
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

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Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post
Since the time man put a log into the water to get to a new location, sailors have been at the forefront of technology. It's funny to watch people complain about the lack of navigation skills of others while sitting under their $10,000 computer-cut Dacron sails. Or using lubricants and sealants that didn't exist a dozen years ago to keep their boat in good shape.

The thing to ask yourself is, do you carry a full mechanics toolbox and spares in your car? It wasn't that many years ago that you had to be a mechanic to drive a car. I remember my first car purchase - I made sure I had a set of tools buried, just in case. I literally don't have a screwdriver in my car today let alone a spare set of spark plugs or the ability to add oil. Why? Because it's gotten so incredibly reliable.

Boating is the same way. We've gotten to the point where reliability has allowed more people with fewer skills to enjoy the benefits. That's a fantastic thing and I'm excited about it. I want to see more people involved with it, not less. And that will come by making it easier and using the technology that's available.
With regards to the modern car. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it is so dependent on microprocessors, that the old way of tuning a carb or turning off a key (in the toyota case) shall not work. So, even having a toolbox would not help, as the electronics are too integrated... Is this good or bad? I can see both sides.....
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:50   #26
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

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With regards to the modern car. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it is so dependent on microprocessors, that the old way of tuning a carb or turning off a key (in the toyota case) shall not work. So, even having a toolbox would not help, as the electronics are too integrated... Is this good or bad? I can see both sides.....
Well, I used to be a car mechanic (18 years ago) and even I can't fix the new cars unless I invested heavily in expensive diagnostic equipment and did tons of retraining. So I now buy new cars and pass them onto others when they're about 4 years old so that others can have the problems. Once you start having to fix modern technology you add the human factor into it and the problems go up exponentially. It will be the same for boats with all the elctronics and watermakers, air conditioners, generators, microwaves, dishwahers, washing machines & entertainment systems - all in the future will be computer controlled of course and all requiring specialist techinicians which probably don't exist in some of the cruising grounds I plan to go to.

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Old 04-04-2011, 12:55   #27
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Welcome to the 21st century where something as simple as a wind gust blowing your chart to sea or your parallel rule breaking at the cheap plastic connector cannot sabotage your navigation equipment.
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Old 04-04-2011, 13:10   #28
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Re: Are we getting too dependent on modern toys?

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yeah the sats might fall from the sky, but so may the mast, or engine failure, or hull crack
agree: keep your eyes open and have a backup plan .. get out and do it now before you are either too old or unable.
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Old 04-04-2011, 13:16   #29
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

Not sure I agree totally with you, Jeff... while nav aids such as radar, GPS, electronic charts and plotters do open cruising to many who otherwise have not had the time, inclination or opportunity to develop nav skills of pre-electronic cruisers, there is, IMHO, a danger in turning these folks loose on busy waterways and well traveled ocean routes trusting entirely that their electronic suites are going to work every time they hit the 'on' button. Imagine an inexperienced boater sailing down the west coast or in the intercoastal waterway and being beset by thick fog and losing their radar, plotter and other electronic nav aids. If they haven't charted their last position on paper in the last hour or so, they probably don't have a clue where they are, where they are going or how to arrive safely at ANY destination.
As a licenced skipper, the experience you have, familiarity with the area you are in and knowing your vessel put you way ahead of the inexperienced guy who just had a sheet thrown over his head.
I feel that folks that take to the sea should have a basic sustainability plan that when everything goes to sh*t, they have a good chance of making it out the other end without harm to themselves or others... just random thoughts from an old salt... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 04-04-2011, 14:58   #30
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Re: Too Dependent on Modern Electronics?

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One should know how to use any navigational aids one has on board; they all compliment each other and can be useful in double checking. There is nothing wrong with having a system that one favors over the others on board, but redundancy is a good thing when it comes to navigation; just make sure one knows how to use the tools at hand efficiently.
I totally agree. I have the old stuff and the new stuff. Combined with always wanting to grasp where the hell I am, everything generally works out.

I have noticed in the last few years, however, both a decline in the "traditional" boating accidents (like getting sunk by a wave or falling off while peeing off the stern) and an increase in the "plain stupid" accidents that involve sailing into new piers not on the old plotter, running directly into large steel nav aids because the AP is slaved to the GPS and the idiot who made the waypoint to the same lat/lon as the heavy, ringing, flashing thing.

And so on.

More common, also, are skippers whose eyes are locked on the helm display instead of 100 metres in front of the bow. Not to mention knobs nearly hitting kayakers and canoeists because they are yakking on their cell phones instead of keeping a watch.

But I digress.
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