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Old 17-08-2013, 09:12   #1
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Looking out: How to actually do it.

When on watch (see other threads) on long offshore passages one keeps watch for other ships, obstructions, whatever.

I wanted a thread to determine how you actually look, and what you look for.

I have a system and would like to hear from others who do more than just 'look'. How do you look?


I start scanning the horizon line by looking carefully at the line and slowly look along the line till I have done a full circle. The thing that I am looking for, in particular, is a little different to a ship, sail or blob, I am looking for an 'aberration'. Something small thats not quite correct.
I bring my eyes back to the aberration as soon as I see it, and if theres nothing there I continue till the circle is complete and then come back to the aberration again.

Next time a do a scan I will have a look at that spot too. Often whatever it is has appeared.

At night its the same. Of course I am looking for bigger objects closer than the horizon too, but they are fairly easy to see when looking at the horizon.

I don't know if I am actually seeing over the horizon - but things can be reflected in clouds -; or if I am seeing some small bit of something; or if its an error in the rods and cones of my eyes, but I'm interested in if you think you see something before it appears on a regular basis.

So how do you look? And what do you look for?



Mark
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:56   #2
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

It is important to understand your horizons for different sized objects:

Big ships 11-12 miles, small fishing skiffs 1 mile.

Initially things will be seen intermittently with the rise and fall of the waves because you are at the geographic range determined by the earths curvature, the height of the object and your height above the sea. The object is actually intermittently appearing above the horizon,

It is possible to determining your distance off from a light house by 'dipping the light,' as you lift and lower your head the light will appear and disappear when you are at the geographic range for the height of the light and your height above the water.

DIPPING DISTANCE FOR A LIGHTHOUSE
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:59   #3
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

When coming on deck / on watch a quick scan around the boat, especially astern!

After that I do the horizon thing, but rather than completing a circuit in one go I reverse direction so I cover every bit 3 times (the idea being that anomalies change - likely too far away for speed, but in shape and reflection)......I then also do the same for between the horizon the boat.

Once done it is mainly about looking ahead (and the 1/4's) on both horizon and between that and the boat, including in the path of the boat that might require a course change (plus any boaty related stuff, course! and sails!)....with a regular check behind.......

.........and then it's back to the horizon check again (likely involving a ciggy break!).



Paranoid? Moi?! - but grew up around here dealing with lobster pots of all shapes and sizes. Pre GPS was also handy to spot an offshore reef (granite - not coral) as soon as possible, especially when it wasn't where it was expected to be! Habits hard to shake off - plus kills the time (never been one for reading on deck / in the cockpit - usually either on watch (formally or not), on the helm or eating or asleep or navigating (formally or not!)...but my favourite is the sleeping! - can sleep through Armageddon!).

I also find that standing makes the watch keeper more diligent.
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Old 17-08-2013, 10:08   #4
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
When on watch (see other threads) on long offshore passages one keeps watch for other ships, obstructions, whatever.

I wanted a thread to determine how you actually look, and what you look for.

I have a system and would like to hear from others who do more than just 'look'. How do you look?


I start scanning the horizon line by looking carefully at the line and slowly look along the line till I have done a full circle. The thing that I am looking for, in particular, is a little different to a ship, sail or blob, I am looking for an 'aberration'. Something small thats not quite correct.
I bring my eyes back to the aberration as soon as I see it, and if theres nothing there I continue till the circle is complete and then come back to the aberration again.

Next time a do a scan I will have a look at that spot too. Often whatever it is has appeared.

At night its the same. Of course I am looking for bigger objects closer than the horizon too, but they are fairly easy to see when looking at the horizon.

I don't know if I am actually seeing over the horizon - but things can be reflected in clouds -; or if I am seeing some small bit of something; or if its an error in the rods and cones of my eyes, but I'm interested in if you think you see something before it appears on a regular basis.

So how do you look? And what do you look for?



Mark
Excellent post. Yep, pretty much how I do it. You need to watch one part of the Horizon for a bit....maybe a minute.... not just look and then move on. That's probably the most important part. And yes, if you think you saw something... watch that spot intensely.It seems quite often, If I think I saw something, eventually it's there!
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Old 17-08-2013, 10:21   #5
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

Mark, I use much the same methods.

After a few years at sea I noticed that even when not deliberately scanning the horizon, if something "anomalous" pops up I will often catch it via peripheral vision. Not necessarily clearly enough to identify the anomaly, but enough to direct my attention toward it for further examination. Can't explain how... it just happens!

And being an old fart, I believe that my night vision may not be as acute as it once was. To compensate, I will periodically use my 7x50 binoculars whilst scanning or to zero in on a suspicious area. Getting old is the shits... so ya gotta compensate if you want to continue cruising!

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Old 17-08-2013, 11:13   #6
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

We are all of the same train of thought/practice. If something, 'aberration',is observed particularly at night, scan past, refocus and return to siting, verify siting, continue 360 degree scan.
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Old 17-08-2013, 11:13   #7
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post

I start scanning the horizon line by looking carefully at the line and slowly look along the line till I have done a full circle. The thing that I am looking for, in particular, is a little different to a ship, sail or blob, I am looking for an 'aberration'. Something small thats not quite correct.
I do much the same, except I was taught to scan 'sectors' - do the stbd sidelight sector, do the port sector, do the stern sector, repeat. I start with a scan of the horizon naked eye, then the water below the horizon, then horizon through the binos, followed by a final sweep with the binos below the horizon. The idea is to refocus the eyes, so that aberrations stand out better. I think if you do a full 360 at the same 'focal length' yours eyes tend to get lazy and lose their acuity.
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Old 17-08-2013, 11:40   #8
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

Some interesting insight into how our eyes work (or don't) and effective scanning techniques from the aviation world in the below link.

http://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pil...lot_vision.pdf
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:24   #9
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

I wonder how the navy teach it?
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:42   #10
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I wonder how the navy teach it?
USN Lookout Training Handbook

http://www.hnsa.org/doc/pdf/lookout.pdf
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:45   #11
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Mark that is how I was taught. Don't look for something in particular. Look for the anomaly. Some how this fakes out the brain.
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:51   #12
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
...And being an old fart, I believe that my night vision may not be as acute as it once was. To compensate, I will periodically use my 7x50 binoculars whilst scanning or to zero in on a suspicious area. ...
They help tremendously and good ones work with very little light. Dusk, dawn or a bit of a moon, I tend to use the binocs..
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:58   #13
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

also look for any changes in water or air that predict any changes in weather --haystax, wind clouds, particular kinds of haze.....
aberrations and changes and strange lights....

and sea life....
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Old 17-08-2013, 16:33   #14
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Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

The linked FAA note explains what I meant by 'eyes getting lazy' much better than I did:
Quote:
Distance focus, without a specific object to look at, tends to diminish rather quickly. If you fly over water or under hazy conditions with the horizon obscured or between cloud layers at night, your distance focus relaxes after about 60-80 seconds. If there is nothing specific on which to focus, your eyes revert to a relaxed intermediate focal distance (10 to 30 ft). This means that you are looking without actually seeing anything, which is dangerous. The answer to this phenomenon is to condition your eyes for distant vision. Focus on the most distant object that you can see, even if it’s just a wing tip. Do this before you begin scanning the sky in front of you. As you scan, make sure you repeat this re-focusing exercise often.
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Old 17-08-2013, 16:44   #15
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pirate Re: Looking out: How to actually do it.

I just Look...
But den I'z simple...
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