This analysis of the Costa Concordia accident
is really interesting:
Some of the concepts, like Bridge Resource Management, are more applicable to us than might seem at first glance.
The "Electronic Charting Zoom Problem", which some people deny exists, is mentioned as one of the factors in the accident
"Another potential usability issue might have contributed to “hide” the underwater rock to the eyes of the officers (fig.15a and 15b). This relates to the clarity of electronic vector charts on navigational display. Spot soundings overlapping with depth
contours and other cartographic features are the norm on ECDIS and ECS, and the dynamic customization of the various layer of information at best requires a considerable cognitive 16 effort. In the worst cases important features becomes unreadable, compromising the situational awareness of the OOWs.
Comparing the paper chart with the vector chart of Giglio Island (fig.16 a, b), it appears evident
that the art of cartography got lost in translation from paper to vector charts.
The last bit is a subtle and important remark, reminding me strikingly of this comment by RythmDoctor:
"Note that there is a lot of complexity in the dialog that you posted - a lot of power to filter out clutter. But one man's clutter is another man's treasure. And therein lies the danger of vector charts. That is why I prefer to use raster charts for initial planning - because professional cartographers have made sure the really important stuff is shown
, instead of a relatively unsophisticated user (me) accidentally unchecking a box that should have been left checked."
I have been playing with the vector chart controls in OpenCPN, and with the raster charts I bought.
So far, I can't get dramatically more useful views of vector charts, using the controls. Applying blanket rules to the detail shown does not really help -- the "professional cartographer's art" is needed, not a mechanistic rule
. Some professional cartographer devised the layers or default rules used in vector charts. Maybe the ENC charts -- designed for larger, higher resolution displays -- will be better than the Navionics
charts I have. But so far I can't get my vector charts to display in a way that is really suitable for planning in complex water
So I am starting to believe that you need raster charts for that, as Rhythm Doctor says. For chart plotting underway, vector charts look better, but for planning, raster seems unbeatable.
I can say that I've now reached the point where the official UK raster charts on OpenCPN with a large high res display are better for me for planning than paper. Yes, really. This is a watershed for me. I still can't quite see as much detail (maybe with a 4k display at the nav table), and you can't put down a Portland
Plotter and pencil, but the ability to instantly switch between different charts with the "piano keys" is something you can't duplicate with paper, and there are many tools which are laborious to emulate on paper, like transferring routes to the main nav system.
So I guess I'm going to bite the bullet and acquire the expensive NV raster charts for the Baltic. The company does not sell electronic charts without paper -- you automatically get the paper charts too. So I won't have to give up paper altogether.
I think there's still room for some feature OpenCPN which would preserve the display of actual hazards (as opposed to other details) in some symbolic form at zoomed-out views of vector charts, as we've been discussing.