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Old 26-11-2006, 12:39   #16
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Paul,

"*** An on-topic suggestion: have a decent hand-bearing compass (and/or binocs w. compass) and know how to use it."

Absolutely! IMO, this is worth more than many electronic gadgets. After many years of sailing with various hand-bearing compasses -- including the great Sestral with an RDF loop on top which piloted me up the Adriatic to Dubrovnic in heavy fog some years back -- a couple of years ago I sprung for the Fujinon Polaris binocs with built in compass. Fantastic piece of gear; wouldn't leave the dock without it.

Bill
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Old 26-11-2006, 12:50   #17
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Absolutely agree too.

As for binocs....it cannot be overstated, get the best you possibly can. I have tried getting many less expensive and supposedly just as good binocs but none hold a candle to my Steiners. During the ICW portion of my trip south, they never left my neck...you use them constantly (and definately get binocs with compass). In fact, I found them so valuable that mid trip I got a second pair (the lighter 8x30) as back ups ..even though I must have 3 other binocs aboard.

And Paul...your point is well taken. I know a couple who sailed a 44' cutter down the coast. One dark and stormy night (literally) they were in a crossing situation with a commercial ship and could not judge its course (for whatever reason....fatigue and inexperience more than likely). They tried hailing, no joy. They unfortunately got themselves in extremis and were nearly hit. Had they had AIS, the would likely have been better off. It is just a matter of cost. I hesitate to add, but these friends were not very experienced cruisers and thus might have needed to rely on means other than their own experience and sea sense.

Anyway, good discussion.

My best to all

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Old 26-11-2006, 21:07   #18
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If you are in a crossing situation with a ship and you are having trouble picking its course---- turn around and go the other way.
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Old 27-11-2006, 07:30   #19
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Very good advice, but it depends on where you really are.

A commercial ship may move at 18 knots. At night, an inexperienced sailor might only see it when it is 6 miles away. The ship will cover that distance in 20 min. The sailor turns the engine on and begins to maneuver, being able to cover a distance of only 2 miles in that same time period. If you wish to have a cpa of 3 miles and you were on the bow of the ship....you are in extremis. If the sailor is either too tired or not experienced enough reading ships nav lights at night (and judging the relative position of red and green side lights in relation to the white steaming light)...it would be easy to fail to judge your relative position until it is too late.

From what I was told, this happened to that couple. He had sailed before, never cruised and had not been sailing long. She had not sailed at all until only recently. Their mid 40 footer was new to both of them and they had not sailed her much. They were late getting to their desired anchorage and both very fatigued. He was crashed down below and apparently could not be awakened very easily. She was likely unable to manage the boat on her own. She likely did not take any action at all until she awakened him. By the time he got on deck, they were in extremis. I do not know what maneuvering action they took. I only know that they tried raising the ship on VHF with no luck. That may have cost them time as well.

I would believe that the above situation would not be all the uncommon for many couples. 1) they both got 'target fixation' and lost their situational awareness. 2) they allowed both of themselves to become fatigued and over tired. 3) the least experienced sailor was at the helm during a period of landfall in the dark....not good ...but done because the more experienced (as it were) sailor was too fatigued. 4) they had a boat that took both of them to manage and impossible for one.

As said, I doubt this is an uncommon situation out there.

So, it may be an exemplar of Paul's point. AIS might have aided the inexperienced sailor. Or Bill's....you need more experience to really keep you safe out there, nothing else will do.

I do not know the answer. As I was too ready to dismiss AIS, I throw this into the mix for balance and fairness.

My best to all.

John
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Old 27-11-2006, 08:39   #20
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Quote:
I do not know the answer. As I was too ready to dismiss AIS, I throw this into the mix for balance and fairness.
You can easily become paralyzed with too much information if you don't have the experience using the many possible devices at hand. It's easy to just constantly stare at a chart plotter instead of looking at the water is just one example people often do. AIS would save the inexperienced sailor if they looked at before it was too late to take corrective action. The point at which something becomes too late may seem just like an ordinary moment at the time unless you understand the bigger picture and the details of what the device tells you.

Confusion leads to poor judgment. It amazing that in a confused state you can decide to to do the only wrong thing possible or in an effort to make a correct decision you never actually decide anything because the clock runs out. A deer frozen in the headlights that can not take a step to one side of the road or the other.

Experience suddenly makes a serious situation a normal decision process that yields the correct (or close enough) action. When your head is clear and rational you can do things you can not do when in a state of total confusion, fear, and doubt.

A sailor fails to turn the boat in almost any direction is struck by a freighter. If you think about it at the proper moment almost any course or speed deviation what so ever would have worked to avoid the collision.
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Old 27-11-2006, 10:44   #21
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My son is an EWO on the mighty B-52 - he has extensive training in all areas of Radar interpretation. He tells me they have fairly good equipment, and even with his level of training Radar ID is at times very difficult. So while there is no doubt radar can be a significant and important tool, be careful when using it, it can get you into trouble by making you feel safer than you should.
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Old 27-11-2006, 12:20   #22
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A huge number of "accidents" can be put down to fatigue, which can be put down to a lack of experience. The couple mentioned had a problem with lack of experience which had nothing to do with electronic gadgetry.
Perhaps some of the fault lies with the marketers and promoters of such gadgetry who give the impression that "anyone can do it".
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Old 28-11-2006, 02:59   #23
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My name is Gord, and I’m an “infoholic”.

As a, not too bright, information junkie, I can attest to the information overload syndrome. Too much information, appearing too quickly, can lead to intellectual paralysis in a critical situation.

Notwithstanding, I (like Paul) find that the overload generally occurs (most often) in more unfamiliar situations.
The more expert (practiced, or knowledgeable) I am, in a given evolution or discipline , the more information I can readily assimilate, and rationally employ.

Hence, it is the more experienced sailor who might make best use of “additional” information. This same “old salt” might also have less need of it.
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Old 28-11-2006, 04:55   #24
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Gord,

I fully agree with your oppinion on experience versus overload.

From all of your comments and based on my best forecast of what we're going to do I think the best way forward is to :

Start with paper based navigation backed up with my existing portable GPS units.
No radar initially.
Make decisions on radar / nav / computer / etc during first 6 months (or later)
Get a SSB up front so I can become confident in it's use and nail any issues before possible ARC to Europe at end of first season.
Get an EPIRB up front for safety reasons.
Defer buying of solar panels, etc. until I learn our energy needs and practicality of regeneration.
Defer purchase of compressor
Get a dinghy and outboard up front for obvious reasons.
Defer purchase of water maker until need and models better understood.

This means we may have to give up some of the sailing season in the Caribbean to fit some extras before the ARC. Not too big a deal.

Steve
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Old 28-11-2006, 05:41   #25
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Originally Posted by ess105
... However, I have come to the conclusion I don't need to make my mind up before we go for anything that is non-essential within the Caribbean...
Steve
Steve:
You seem to have been on the right track, from the beginning.
All of the discussed “extras” can be very useful, but time afloat (in the new boat) will certainly clarify your priorities.
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Old 28-11-2006, 10:28   #26
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Steve,

A suggestion: There is no time like the present to start working on your electrical system power budget. Even if you will later be adding gear, and perhaps solar panels, if you begin a rough-cut power budget now you will be able to make these future equipment decisions with your full system in mind.

For example, I have everything in a spreadsheet: piece of equipment, Amp drain, hours used in a day. The solar panels are in there, as is the engine-driven alternator, as power sources. The battery bank size is in there. This lets me figure my daily deficit (or surplus), and tells me how often and how long I need to run the engine for battery chargiing. Before I make decisions about new equipment, I plug it into the spreadsheet to see it's effect on the power system. It keeps me from adding every new gadget that comes along!

OK, I admit that I'm sort of obsessive about this, but do consider it. If your systems work now, that's great, but if you will be changing they way you use the boat you don't want to find out that you just don't have the power or battery bank to do what you want.
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Old 28-11-2006, 14:45   #27
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I lived for years with two batteries, when the engine went off one was disconnected, when the lights went dim it was reconnected and the engine on for 40 mins ( at sea about every 3rd day).
Why make life more complicated than necessary?
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Old 28-11-2006, 15:42   #28
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dana-t, life can be as simple as you like.

But if someone would like to have some new equipment, or is trying to decide between a chartplotter or a computer, is considering adding a solar panel (etc, etc), I suggest that they do it with their eyes open, and crunch some numbers first. Otherwise they may easily find themselves needing to run that engine way more than they would like.

I will concede that if your power consumption is low enough, then the analysis I am talking about is not really necessary. Many people, however, are well beyond that point, especially if they have been daysailing and are now preparing for long passages.

Whatever you add, be prepared to have it fail. I do remind myself from time to time that I have a Sailboat, and I had better be able to sail the thing without all my gadgets.
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Old 28-11-2006, 17:49   #29
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Power regeneration is one of my obsessions as well. I would recommend at least one panel, and configure so to allow additional panels to be added at a later date. Sizing the first panel can be done easily by projecting your absolute minimum power drains such as nav lights, VHF, and possibly refridgeration. A 75 watt panel is small, cheap, common, and will generate enough power to get keep the lights on should all else fail.
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Old 28-11-2006, 18:24   #30
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It is after all about being mindful of resources. There are many resources aboard and it is easy to say one is most important but to some degree they all matter. Power, water, or sleep.
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