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Old 08-12-2010, 14:46   #1
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Incident off Mexico

I guess this is the right place for this post since it is about "seamanship' and safety.

On the 3rd of Dec. I was "ear witness" to an incident off the west coast of Mexico near the entrance to Bahia de Banderas involving a large power boat (name withheld to avoid embarressing the skipper) which had lost power and was adrift for several hours.

It seems that the vessel had lost all power around midnight and drifted for a bit while the crew tried to solve the unknown problem. When they finally sent out a call for assistance they sent a "Mayday" even though there was no immediate threat to life or the survival of the ship. (Should have been a "PAN PAN"). Seas were less than five feet, wind northerly at 5-15kts. and they were at least 10 NM off shore in clear weather. When contact was established with other vessels in the area using a hand held VHF, the Mexican Navy rescue in Puerto Vallarta was notified and search efforts organized (which took a couple of hours, they are NOT the USCG), now here's the point. The vessel in question had NO GOOD IDEA where they were. WHY??? Because they had NO BACKUP to their electronics!!!!! When the power went down they did not have any way of determining their position. NO hand held GPS, NO EPIRB, nada! Several hours were lost searching for them in a large general area. The vessel was finally found (when the VHF was almost dead, no spare batteries) and towed to port BUT what if the situation had been worse or even much worse, fire aboard, taking on water, severe medical emergency in addition to the loss of power????

This crew was very lucky! Since the vessel is a large (read very expensive) power cruiser it sure seems to me that the investment of a few hundred $$$ for a backup GPS (or two) and lots of AA batteries would be cheap insurance!!!!!!!

Lesson learned? I sure hope so!

And by the way, a "Well done" to the cruising sailors who handled the radio relays and early phases of the search operation!
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:13   #2
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That is why every 4 hours we put a pencil mark on the paper chart and record our lat/long, course and speed in the paper log.. We also have 2 back-up GPS's and a sextant.
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:22   #3
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And back we go to the old CP/GPS vs Paper Charts arguement.....
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:26   #4
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And back we go to the old CP/GPS vs Paper Charts arguement.....
yes and no - this actually seems like a pretty good lesson on how to use modern technology intelligently. a sextant and/or paper chart might have helped, but certainly wasn't necessary. as the OP points out, all they really needed was a few batteries
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:33   #5
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all they really needed was a few batteries
"Thats what the ex said as she stormed outa my life..."
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:38   #6
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"Thats what the ex said as she stormed outa my life..."
LMAO boatman.
But yes agreed I love my paper charts and sextant.
I do have a back up gps and keep plenty of back up batteries,but hard to beat the tried and true old fashioned nav.
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:50   #7
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If you're 10 miles off shore in good visibility with a hand bearing compass you should be able to plot yourself on a chart fairly well. They cost less than a hundred bucks and never run out of batteries.
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:53   #8
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I like to write down the SOG COG and lat long every two hours or so from the GPS. I don't plot it but just write it down in the log book. I feel that this is good enough. I also have two spare GPS's that are battery operated. One of them I bought prior to getting a chartplotter the other just showed up. It seems to work pretty well.
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:57   #9
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My backup GPS is a Magellan 3000 that my wife bought me in 1995. I haven't turned it on lately but I should just to be sure it isn't just taking up space in a drawer. It is a very basic tool that gives you lat/long and a compass and not much else. Amazing how far we have come in the last15yrs ain't it..........m
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Old 09-12-2010, 11:14   #10
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That is why every 4 hours we put a pencil mark on the paper chart and record our lat/long, course and speed in the paper log.. We also have 2 back-up GPS's and a sextant.
And even if one doesn't use paper charts at all, they would certainly keep a deck log.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:07   #11
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FWIW, I am a beleiver in the technology of GPS etc. but I don't take chances.

I have two chart plotters on board which can operate together or independently, a handheld GPS, a laptop with built in GPS which can act as a back up chart plotter and in the worst case, a Tom Tom which can at least give me lat/long. Oh, and I recently discovered that the AIS is also feeding position info to the chart plotter which it seems to use as a back up if the primary RayStar is blocked.

However ... one of the most significant improvements I made to TALISA this year was the addition of a small 'cash register' type thermal printer which prints every 15 mins the lat /long, speed, wind speed and direction.

I'm too lazy to plot every nn mins on the charts, but in the event that I had a total systems failure, I could very quickly plot the last three positions and a have a very close approximation to my position.

In view of the fairly low cost of such a device and its value should the DC systems fail, I don't know why more yachts don't have this.

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Old 09-12-2010, 12:31   #12
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i think the operative words here were POWERBOAT and preparedness, despite the lack of that word's use......... sailors and stinkpotters are two different animals. sailors prepare. stinkpotters joyride.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:46   #13
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i think the operative words here were POWERBOAT and preparedness, despite the lack of that word's use......... sailors and stinkpotters are two different animals. sailors prepare. stinkpotters joyride.
LMBO.....
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Old 09-12-2010, 13:16   #14
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LMBO.....
is truf....
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Old 09-12-2010, 13:49   #15
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I'm just going to have to reinforce this whole stinkpotter hating trend with one of my experiences: I was out nightsailing in light wind on Lake Union. Smack dab in the middle of an urban area, with land at a swimmable distance in all directions. I noticed a boat showing flares in the center of the lake. I immediately started up the motor and went straight for them, sails flapping.

I asked them if they needed help.

"No just lightin' off some flares."



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