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Old 14-05-2014, 14:58   #1
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Active Captain

I just got my issue of the Active Captain newsletter in my email last night.

They're trying to correct errors in the Active Captain database, which is crowd sourced. This issue is one of my main objections to crowd sourcing for things that matter, even when conducted by the Coast Guard.

I care about whether the mark is on-station and functioning correctly. I don't care about whether Skeeter and Booger can find it when they're out in their bass boat.

So when either Skeeter or Booger send a correction in to Active Captain, the Coast Guard or Navionics, I have to wonder if the mark is actually missing or if maybe Skeeter and Booger brought extra Coors on this trip. At least the Coast Guard will eventually check, even if it's just to try to re-light or recover a missing mark. Active Captain and Navionics, not so much.

Here's a quote from the Active Captain newsletter:
"At one point there was a shoaling hazard mark with the advice to stay
to the red side. Traveling north, we were on the green side of the
channel behind two other boats as we watched them both in silence drift
over to the red side. It made us wonder, how will we ever know that the
shoaling is gone or dredged? Ten years from now, will boats still be
pulling over to the red side because no one ventured over to the green
to check?

So here's some advice about getting rid of hazards and a couple of
things we're doing to make the crowd-sourcing of them a little better:

1. If you can safely move toward a shoaling hazard area because of tide
or your draft, test it a little.
[Italics added for emphasis.] Only do this with safety in mind and report your tide-corrected depths encountered in a comment. Unlike
reviews, we monitor every hazard comment and we often update and delete
hazards because of the comments you write."
Are you kidding me? You want me to use my keel to "test" reported shoaling?

I think not.

Or do you want Skeeter and Booger to go in, look at their depth sounder, wind their watch, guess what time it is and try to remember how to read a tide almanac while they have a beer?

I'm extremely disappointed in Active Captain for this last newsletter.
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Old 14-05-2014, 15:06   #2
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Re: Active Captain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
I just got my issue of the Active Captain newsletter in my email last night.

They're trying to correct errors in the Active Captain database, which is crowd sourced. This issue is one of my main objections to crowd sourcing for things that matter, even when conducted by the Coast Guard.

I care about whether the mark is on-station and functioning correctly. I don't care about whether Skeeter and Booger can find it when they're out in their bass boat.

So when either Skeeter or Booger send a correction in to Active Captain, the Coast Guard or Navionics, I have to wonder if the mark is actually missing or if maybe Skeeter and Booger brought extra Coors on this trip. At least the Coast Guard will eventually check, even if it's just to try to re-light or recover a missing mark. Active Captain and Navionics, not so much.

Here's a quote from the Active Captain newsletter:
"At one point there was a shoaling hazard mark with the advice to stay
to the red side. Traveling north, we were on the green side of the
channel behind two other boats as we watched them both in silence drift
over to the red side. It made us wonder, how will we ever know that the
shoaling is gone or dredged? Ten years from now, will boats still be
pulling over to the red side because no one ventured over to the green
to check?

So here's some advice about getting rid of hazards and a couple of
things we're doing to make the crowd-sourcing of them a little better:

1. If you can safely move toward a shoaling hazard area because of tide
or your draft, test it a little.
[Italics added for emphasis.] Only do this with safety in mind and report your tide-corrected depths encountered in a comment. Unlike
reviews, we monitor every hazard comment and we often update and delete
hazards because of the comments you write."
Are you kidding me? You want me to use my keel to "test" reported shoaling?

I think not.

Or do you want Skeeter and Booger to go in, look at their depth sounder, wind their watch, guess what time it is and try to remember how to read a tide almanac while they have a beer?

I'm extremely disappointed in Active Captain for this last newsletter.
Agreed. I'm not a big fan either.
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Old 14-05-2014, 15:37   #3
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Re: Active Captain

Active Captain is useful for finding a place to have a beer and shower or to get a feel for an anchorage never visited. It is a cruising guide.

It is not...and never should be used as...a navigation source...except as one of those "...a prudent navigator will use all means at his disposal..." means that is at the BOTTOM of the list.

Asking Skeeter and Bubba (or Bonnie) to check out a known hazard...even with the disclaimers included..."if"/"safely"/"test"/"little"...is dangerous advice.
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Old 14-05-2014, 16:44   #4
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Re: Active Captain

I use it for just what was stated anchor places and route options. Found some really cool places using it but still verified it. Navigation I think not..

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Old 15-05-2014, 04:34   #5
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Re: Active Captain

IMO, a key component of proper seamanship is use of multiple sources of potentiality redundant information to make decisions. I use multiple weather sources (NOAA forecast, Intellicast, Wunderground, live buoy data), multiple chart sources and medium (Garmin handled, Navionics, NOAA charts), and multiple guidebooks (Chesapeake Cruising Guide, Active Captain, etc.).

AC is great for finding nearby anchorages and marinas. I use it in the Navionics app. Also useful tips in certain spots. It's almost like sharing information at the dock. You listen and note it, but use additional information to make an informed decision. Bound to be great at times but also filled with inaccuracies and errors.

Josh
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Old 15-05-2014, 06:37   #6
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Re: Active Captain

AC is not perfect. We all know that. I have found wrong things many times but that doesnt take from using it as a source of information. People use "Skipper Bob" all the time. I'm sure that publication isnt perfect either. AC has updated information on a daily basis if you take the comments with a grain of salt. If you read 10 comments, the majority of them will give you an idea of what to expect. AC saved me from running aground in the mouth of the Alligator river right on the magenta line. Everyone knows about this spot. Well how are you going to find out about an area of known shoaling unless someone tells you or you read it. This case, my Daughter saw the caution label on the Ipad (using garmin blue Chart) and alerted me to go around the shallow spot. I followed the directions to the letter and went through OK. The boat following me didnt go around, he just kept on the magenta line. He ran aground and hard. So, I would say AC is a great help to me, but I'm not saying it is an absolute. I dont know what to think about them saying "test the waters". However, after they dredge a location something has to be done with all those old post.
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Old 15-05-2014, 06:51   #7
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Re: Active Captain

My issue with active captain is, I offered my time to integrate active captain into opencpn.

Via email, the active captain author denied this because essentially he dislikes opensource and freedom of information. He only intends to support closed source programs, which control the user rather than allowing the user to control the program. He believes that the information in the active captain database personally belongs to him and therefore has very strict controls for how it can be used. In other words, he is is paranoid that someone will copy all of the data onto a new server and provide an identical service using it. I tried to explain this is rare (consider wikipedia) and when it does happen, it is for a good reason and a benefit to all of the users, but he "cringed" at this suggestion.

Because of this, there is no way a third-party can verify that the data has not been intentionally manipulated. Consider someone paying the author off to put in warnings to avoid certain areas, or false endorsements for services.

For these reasons I suggest avoiding Active Captain. Contact me via pm if you have interest in developing a system for sharing points of interest and tracks based on freedom of information and universal knowledge.
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Old 15-05-2014, 06:54   #8
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Re: Active Captain

It appears that most Active Captain users are on the USA East coast. Is it useful for the West coast?


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Old 15-05-2014, 06:55   #9
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Re: Active Captain

Think you might be over reacting a bit there Jammer?

AC is a valuable resource, though nothing can make a decision for you.
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Old 15-05-2014, 07:38   #10
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Re: Active Captain

Nice little addition as others have said, the owner I think has bigger plans in his head of making it rich, not sure how it will work out, his app was a total bust.
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Old 15-05-2014, 07:59   #11
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Re: Active Captain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tayana42 View Post
It appears that most Active Captain users are on the USA East coast. Is it useful for the West coast?
Much more so than it used to be even a year ago. We're in the middle of a 3 month Alaskan adventure right now. I don't remember to check AC before every move but probably do remember every other time we move. I pay more attention to the reviews and I view them as anecdotal information - the same as I might get over a glass of wine from a fellow cruiser or in the bar. Not gospel but potentially useful in the context of the writer's experience and judgement.

Coast Pilot and Sailing Directions are still the most impartial sources of hard information, followed by guides like Douglass or Waggoner. After those sources I'd probably trust my own assessment of a given anchorage based on the charts before I trusted some unknown AC user but I would at least listen to what the AC user had to say.

And to stay on point with the original post, I definitely won't be testing any depths with my keel. I thought that was silly too.
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Old 15-05-2014, 08:17   #12
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Re: Active Captain

Scooby got lost in one of the harbors because he was using AC as his nav. charts. They were out of date and didn't show the marina entrance. Many people on here were advising him to use AC as his primary chart source so it looks like a lot of people are using it that way.
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Old 15-05-2014, 08:31   #13
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Re: Active Captain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tayana42 View Post
It appears that most Active Captain users are on the USA East coast. Is it useful for the West coast?
That's been my experience for Northern California. Things is, except for the Delta there are only a handful of anchorages and there's only so much anyone can say about, for example, Clipper Cove. I've found no nice anchorages without other boats that I'd be willing to tell strangers about - it's like a great uncrowded ski area, why tell anyone? Yogi Berra would be proud: "No one goes there anymore 'cuz it's too crowded!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Scooby got lost in one of the harbors because he was using AC as his nav. charts. They were out of date and didn't show the marina entrance. Many people on here were advising him to use AC as his primary chart source so it looks like a lot of people are using it that way.
IIRC, Scooby got lost 'cuz he went in in heavy fog and couldn't figure out a left to a right turn or the first vs. the second turn. That skipper didn't have much between his ears. The charts hadn't changed significantly enough to matter in his case. AC wasn't to blame, if blame is to be applied.
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Old 15-05-2014, 08:41   #14
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Re: Active Captain

Quote:
IIRC, Scooby got lost 'cuz he went in in heavy fog and couldn't figure out a left to a right turn or the first vs. the second turn. That skipper didn't have much between his ears. The charts hadn't changed significantly enough to matter in his case. AC wasn't to blame, if blame is to be applied.
Stu, I checked the charts. Did you?
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Old 15-05-2014, 08:50   #15
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Re: Active Captain

I used the Active Captain database while making an extended AICW trip last year. I found that, like with most crowd sourced information, it was very accurate after filtering out the 'outliers' in the submitted data.

We were using the Garmin Blue Chart software on an iPad as a supplement to our current paper charts and up to date Garmin Charts on the the (new) plotter. I can't begin to imagine how you would use Active Captain's website for navigation while underway but it's an interesting planning tool.

It was quite good for identifying shoaling and other uncharted issues...

Like any good navigator, you use everything at your disposal...


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