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Old 25-11-2015, 12:36   #31
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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Thanks for those navigation tips--this is exactly what I need! Do you know what kind of auto pilot navigation equipment was available in 1984?
In 1984 there were plenty of electronic autopilots available, and wind driven steering systems (usuall y called wind vane steering) had been around for some years. The latter would be appropriate for the type of boat you are using in the story.

When we made our first offshore passage in 1983, Ann and I had an Autohelm 2000 tiller pilot on our 30 foot boat. It lasted all the way to Hawaii from SF, but failed shortly after departure on the return voyage. When we left for full time cruising in 1986 we had an Autohelm 3000 wheel pilot and a home designed/built wind vane. This was typical cruising kit for t he time.

Nowadays folks tend to use electronic pilots more t han wind vanes. Their sophistication has increased dramatically, their reliability somewhat less so!

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Old 25-11-2015, 12:41   #32
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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Sailing has changed a lot since 1984. There were no chartplotters, no GPS, no autohelm, no LED lights, no cell phones, no sat phones, no internet, no world wide web, no passageweather.com. How did we survive? I don't think I ever saw a solar panel or wind generator back then. Ahhh...simpler times.

My recollection of sailing back then was navigation...constantly taking fixes, LOP, transits, EP, and the never ending dead reckoning position. We used a shadow pin, polaris, RDF, a taff rail log, and took dutchmans for speed. My station pointers, parallel rulers and dividers were in constant use. If I wanted to know the depth, I swung a lead line. Back then we would know the name of every point of land, every shoal. My favorite was to "double the angle off the bow" to get a fix, when there weren't enough points for a 3 point fix. We would take an "azimuth" of the sun and compare to its shadow to calculate compass error. Every day at sunset I'd get an amplitude, which is an easy azimuth, again to find the compass error. We were always calculating compass error since our compass was so important both in finding our position, and directing us. A few degrees out could spell disaster over a long enough distance.

Being on watch in 1984 was a busy time. Now, with chartplotters, there's nothing to do but watch the waves go by.
I'll have to include some bits of what you just said, but quite honestly, it makes my brain hurt!
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Old 25-11-2015, 12:44   #33
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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In 1984 there were plenty of electronic autopilots available, and wind driven steering systems (usuall y called wind vane steering) had been around for some years. The latter would be appropriate for the type of boat you are using in the story.

When we made our first offshore passage in 1983, Ann and I had an Autohelm 2000 tiller pilot on our 30 foot boat. It lasted all the way to Hawaii from SF, but failed shortly after departure on the return voyage. When we left for full time cruising in 1986 we had an Autohelm 3000 wheel pilot and a home designed/built wind vane. This was typical cruising kit for t he time.

Nowadays folks tend to use electronic pilots more t han wind vanes. Their sophistication has increased dramatically, their reliability somewhat less so!

Jim
Oh good! I like the sound of the Autohelm--I will no doubt refer back to this and hamburking's comment after I get a chance to Google all that stuff! Thanks again for the input!!
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Old 25-11-2015, 12:50   #34
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

Yep, the trick will be to be time appropriate. My parents had wind vane steering in the '70s. First Autohelm we had was '84 (same 3000 as Jim). Our first satellite navigation was '88 and it was expensive and not many other boats had them. If you want to go old school, anyone in the GoM in those years probably had LORAN. The paper charts (no electronic ones yet) were covered with curved lines that represented "LORAN Offsets". LORAN was great for getting back to the exact same place (your favorite fishing spot) every time, but not as great for being able to give you your exact position.
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Old 25-11-2015, 13:24   #35
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

Nearly everybody had digital depth sounder then and radio direction finders (by then usually automatic so also known as ADF for Automatic Direction Finder) were common . I think Jim and Ann's kit of wind vane and the AutoHelm were common. Loran C was readily available but I don't know how many cruisers used them. They did use a lot of electricity compared to modern electronics which can be an issue on a sail boat.
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:11   #36
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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Yep, the trick will be to be time appropriate. My parents had wind vane steering in the '70s. First Autohelm we had was '84 (same 3000 as Jim). Our first satellite navigation was '88 and it was expensive and not many other boats had them. If you want to go old school, anyone in the GoM in those years probably had LORAN. The paper charts (no electronic ones yet) were covered with curved lines that represented "LORAN Offsets". LORAN was great for getting back to the exact same place (your favorite fishing spot) every time, but not as great for being able to give you your exact position.
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Nearly everybody had digital depth sounder then and radio direction finders (by then usually automatic so also known as ADF for Automatic Direction Finder) were common . I think Jim and Ann's kit of wind vane and the AutoHelm were common. Loran C was readily available but I don't know how many cruisers used them. They did use a lot of electricity compared to modern electronics which can be an issue on a sail boat.
So, for my less experienced cook/deckhand, might an Autohelm or windvane have worked for her during a night watch while she's learning the ropes, so to speak? And as for the electrical consumption of the Autohelm, if they run the generator once a day, would that be sufficient to keep gadgets and such charged?
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:17   #37
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

In benign weather yes, to all of your questions. When the sailing is easy the watchstander's main task is just to keep the eyes open, make sure you aren't headed toward anything with lights, and make sure nothing bad is happening. I've sailed many a passage with inexperienced crew in exactly this mode, with the direction that they wake me for anything they don't understand.

The wind vane takes no power (but can readily steer your boat off course if the wind shifts - hence someone with their eyes open) while the autohelm does take some power. Before we had a lot of solar we ran the charging system for one hour/day and that was enough to keep the autohelm and running lights happy (and the beer cold).
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:24   #38
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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In benign weather yes, to all of your questions. When the sailing is easy the watchstander's main task is just to keep the eyes open, make sure you aren't headed toward anything with lights, and make sure nothing bad is happening. I've sailed many a passage with inexperienced crew in exactly this mode, with the direction that they wake me for anything they don't understand.

The wind vane takes no power (but can readily steer your boat off course if the wind shifts - hence someone with their eyes open) while the autohelm does take some power. Before we had a lot of solar we ran the charging system for one hour/day and that was enough to keep the autohelm and running lights happy (and the beer cold).
Excellent! That will work in nicely! When I get around some fast internet, I will add the wind vane to my list of things to look at on Youtube!
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:29   #39
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

When you do, you can check out:

http://www.selfsteer.com/products/monitor/index.php

or

http://www.selfsteer.com/products/sayes/index.php

Both of those rigs have been around for some time and were found on lots of cruising boats. There are many other varieties, but that should give you a starting point.
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:45   #40
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

OK so for whatever it is worth these two guys are on their way right now down the "canal" from Louisiana to Panama via Florida so they may have some insight on that section of your planned journey. Good Luck!

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Old 25-11-2015, 15:48   #41
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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When you do, you can check out:

http://www.selfsteer.com/products/monitor/index.php

or

http://www.selfsteer.com/products/sayes/index.php

Both of those rigs have been around for some time and were found on lots of cruising boats. There are many other varieties, but that should give you a starting point.
Thanks for sharing those links!
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:56   #42
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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OK so for whatever it is worth these two guys are on their way right now down the "canal" from Louisiana to Panama via Florida so they may have some insight on that section of your planned journey. Good Luck!

OOOoooo, that will be interesting--when I get some of that high-speed internet! Definitely on my queue! Thanks so much!
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Old 25-11-2015, 16:38   #43
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

Just for grins, ran a weather route from near NOLA to near Grand Cayman. Used GFS/MyOcean data for today. Used the polars for a Halberg Rasey 48 (dont know how that compares specifically to your characters boat, but its in the ballpark I think). Pretty sporty sail right now with winds ~25kts. Would be a wet rough ride in these conditions. WR software does not account for sea state, which would slow you down (Seas are ~2.3m, 093d, 6s period in this area of the GOM now...yuk). Close reach to beam reach all the way! Average speed ~8.9kts. Distance ~729nm. Elapsed time ~3d10h. Yeehaa!
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Old 25-11-2015, 19:33   #44
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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Just for grins, ran a weather route from near NOLA to near Grand Cayman. Used GFS/MyOcean data for today. Used the polars for a Halberg Rasey 48 (dont know how that compares specifically to your characters boat, but its in the ballpark I think). Pretty sporty sail right now with winds ~25kts. Would be a wet rough ride in these conditions. WR software does not account for sea state, which would slow you down (Seas are ~2.3m, 093d, 6s period in this area of the GOM now...yuk). Close reach to beam reach all the way! Average speed ~8.9kts. Distance ~729nm. Elapsed time ~3d10h. Yeehaa!
Very cool! Not sure what those numbers represent, but I gather it's rough seas. ...But, if you were on the boat under those conditions, you probably wouldn't rattle off those numbers, you'd use some other cool nautical expression...like what? And for the record, I actually do know what a 'Close reach to beam reach' is! I'm very proud of myself.
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Old 26-11-2015, 06:53   #45
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Re: Need NOLA to Caymans Advice for a Work of Fiction

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Very cool! Not sure what those numbers represent, but I gather it's rough seas. ...But, if you were on the boat under those conditions, you probably wouldn't rattle off those numbers, you'd use some other cool nautical expression...like what? And for the record, I actually do know what a 'Close reach to beam reach' is! I'm very proud of myself.
Those numbers mean that most of the waves are about 2.3 meters high (though you will likely get occasional bigger ones), coming from the East, with a period (time between waves) of 6 seconds. When wave height and period are similar (~7' and ~6 seconds) then you get steep faced waves close together which makes for a very unpleasant ride. Unfortunately, these short, steep seas are a common pattern in the GOM.

Just count off every 6 seconds and imagine a 7' wave hammering you every 6 seconds...for 3 days!

Expressions: short & steep, sloppy...others may have more...
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