Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

View Poll Results: Night Pilotage, How Do You Do It?
I study the charts and read the lights. No big deal, even without GPS. 17 34.00%
Instudybthe charts and read the lights, but wouldn't go into a strange harbor at night without GPS. 3 6.00%
I study the charts and read the lights, but wouldn't go into a strange harborbat night without a plotter at the helm. 10 20.00%
I wouldn't go into a strange harbor at night regardless of the tools at my disposal, except in an emergency. 19 38.00%
I have never faced this situation. 1 2.00%
Voters: 50. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 10-08-2013, 12:03   #1
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,750
Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

On another thread (GPS as the Sole Means of Navigation.), an unnamed skipper was ridiculed for being unable to find his way into San Diego harbor when the chart plotter in his charter boat went down. Got me thinking - how many people actually go into new harbors at night? With what navigational tools?
__________________

__________________
"Parce que je suis heureux en mer, et peut-ętre pour sauver mon ame. . . "
Dockhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 12:23   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29° 49.16’ N 82° 25.82’ W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 12,382
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

Depends on the harbor, presence of shoals and hazards, nav aids, weather and sea conditions.

I would not hesitate and have several times, entered strange harbors at night without GPS. My procedure it to go slow, identify all the channel markers, have a good lookout with a spotlight (amazing how many unlit buoys, small fishing boats and other hazards you encounter, even in major ports), keep the binoculars handy and don't hesitate to stop or reverse if in doubt.

One tricky thing is identifying lighted nav aids against the background of city lights.

Entering a reef lined channel in a strange harbor in the islands is another question altogether. Would do that at night only if I had a really good chart and had a really serious need to go in.

Once had to enter Key West at night without a chart (semi-emergency). Had not been down that channel for many years and had no memory of how it went. I did have a large scale chart that showed the basic channel layout and indicated ranges were present. So found the outer buoy and the first range and followed them. The channel was well marked and well lit and felt no concerns at all going in.
__________________

__________________
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
skipmac is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 12:27   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Port Ludlow Wa
Boat: Makela,Ingrid38,Idora
Posts: 1,974
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

In my old boat I had shoal draft, I would feel my way in using paper charts and binoculars and the depth sounder. Mostly it worked. The current boat is a deep draft full keel...now I use two plotters, radar, a night vision device, depth sounder, binoculars and paper charts... Frequently I will delay entry till I am very sure I have thoroughly understood the channel markings and my position. Just getting chicken in my old age I guess. The up side.....have not been aground for many years.
__________________
IdoraKeeper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 12:36   #4
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,750
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

I acknowledge something both of the posters above have said or implied: different situations are different.

Some ports are much more complicated and hazardous than others -- that's one thing.

Some boats have very shallow draft and not at nearly as much risk as others.

Waters with big tides are one thing, and waters with small or no tides another. If the tides are small or nonexistent, if the bottom is not rocky, if the weather is benign, the consequences of going aground may be trivial. Quite different from the consequences in a typical English Channel situation with rocks, strong currents, and tides often exceeding 20 feet -- so that going aground may mean death or, at least, loss of your boat.

When I was sailing in Florida, we took quite serious risks of going aground, and took them consciously (and we ran aground regularly). No big deal -- tides are small, and Sea Tow is a phone call away. Where I sail now, going aground is almost like running off the Interstate at 80 miles an hour -- you just don't take any risk, or practically any risk of doing it, and you go to quite extensive lengths to reduce the risk to near zero. Different situations.

So I probably should have considered factors like that in the poll.
__________________
Dockhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 12:56   #5
Armchair Bucketeer
 
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

One other hazard not mentioned is a new one.......other folks coming in and out on a chartplotter! In ye olden days less chance of either bumping into one or having other lights to contend with!

Nowadays I still would not go into a strange harbour at night by choice, and would plan around that accordingly. But if circumstances dictated (not necessarily an "emergency") and I thought the harbour was doable (the approaches really) then I would give it a go - but would be happier with a Chartplotter (with a numbers only GPS I would still be doing pilotage the old fashioned way anyway, apart from knowing my starting point and using it to follow a course - albeit of course not treating that as gospel, especially not around these parts due to tidal drift!).

Upon reflection, around here (Jersey / other islands and France) plenty of harbours I would not enter at night. and a couple I would hesitate to enter in daylight on a nice day!

La Rocque Harbour, Jersey.

Looks easy enuf!



Half tide (at full tide a lot of that is still hittable!).



Low tide

David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 12:56   #6
Registered User
 
s/v Moondancer's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Fiji but heading for Alaska
Boat: Tayana 55
Posts: 1,225
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

There is a world of difference between a well marked commercial harbor for which you have good charts and a third world entry entry where half the lights are missing and the last chart was done 100 yrs ago.

The key to both is to not trust the chart plotter and rely on the 'mark one eyeball.'
__________________
Phil

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
s/v Moondancer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:00   #7
Registered User
 
Snore's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: www.USCGMaster.com
Boat: Tartan 33
Posts: 1,881
I took the survey and took the first option...

But in reality, it depends.

Are you entering Miami or Tampa or some other harbor that is used by large commercial ships?

Are you entering some backwater like Everglades City, Jupiter Inlet, or even some inlets on Long Island's south shore?


Clearly, the more commercial traffic the easier it will be to follow the markers. If there is a commercial fishing boat or a boat that lists this as their homeport, I would not think twice of jumping in his wake. Just got to be careful not to follow him to his dock :>)

Regardless, the most important thing will be the chart that is folded and held course up. When in doubt I travel buoy to buoy, may not be showy, but makes it harder to make an error.
__________________
"Whenever...it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea..." Ismael ---- NEW website! www.USCGMaster.com
Snore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:01   #8
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,750
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
One other hazard not mentioned is a new one.......other folks coming in and out on a chartplotter! In ye olden days less chance of either bumping into one or having other lights to contend with!

Nowadays I still would not go into a strange harbour at night by choice, and would plan around that accordingly. But if circumstances dictated (not necessarily an "emergency") and I thought the harbour was doable (the approaches really) then I would give it a go - but would be happier with a Chartplotter (with a numbers only GPS I would still be doing pilotage the old fashioned way anyway, apart from knowing my starting point and using it to follow a course - albeit of course not treating that as gospel, especially not around these parts due to tidal drift!).

Upon reflection, around here (Jersey / other islands and France) plenty of harbours I would not enter at night. and a couple I would hesitate to enter in daylight on a nice day!

La Rocque Harbour, Jersey.

Looks easy enuf!



Half tide (at full tide a lot of that is still hittable!).



Low tide


A lot of the English Channel, where I sail, looks like that. :shudder: It is not for the faint of heart, nor for the light of navigational skill. Add some stiff Channel weather into the mix, and you might want to keep diapers on board.
__________________
Dockhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:05   #9
Long Range Cruiser
 
MarkJ's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Australian living on "Sea Life" currently in England.
Boat: Beneteau 393 "Sea Life"
Posts: 12,828
Images: 25
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
how many people actually go into new harbors at night? With what navigational tools?

I never go into an unknown harbour at night.
its not a real problem for me as I slow down in the last few miles and arrive after dawn. I just dont see why the extra risk is reasonable when I can just roll along slowly and wait for dawn. Its not like I have a job to get to or nuffin.

It does make it much easier for me in that I can sail at night with no problem so I can better determine that I will arrive in daytime in short passages.




I'm just sitting here trying to remember the last time I went into an unfamiliar port at night... Ages ago... or never.



Mark
__________________
Notes on a Circumnavigation.
OurLifeAtSea.com

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
MarkJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:06   #10
Wayfaring Mariner
 
captain58sailin's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Homer, AK is my home port
Boat: Skookum 53'
Posts: 4,045
Images: 5
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

I have had the opportunity to enter a lot of strange harbors, or rivers at night, not by personal choice, but professional necessity, and what has been mentioned before, the back lighting is the single biggest hazard to navigation. A radar is extremely useful in these circumstances, but certainly not 100%. When making one entrance, I called out on the VHF to get some local knowledge if available and was fortunate enough to get a tug to give me instructions, and even with that help, I ended up in a tanker slip first instead of making way up the river. As a rule on my own vessel, I plan to make landfall during daylight hours only.
__________________
" Wisdom; is your reward for surviving your mistakes"
captain58sailin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:07   #11
Armchair Bucketeer
 
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

Just to say (especially to those starting out), that whilst the old saying "There are old, and bold but no old & bold etc" is sorely abused - when it comes to small boat navigation it is very relevant.

Never be shy about deciding "no" (before having to say "I wish I hadn't started!") or running away!......it is the sign of a good navigator and skipper not to bite off more can chew, even when others can chew more or are willing to risk finding out. No prizes for getting sunk first.....

Not to say that entering a strange harbour at night is something that others cannot be more comfortable than me doing for good reasons, but I am a prudent navigator (AKA cowardly!) and simply don't have the experience of doing that in strange waters to be comfortable (Chartplotter or not).
David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:10   #12
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,750
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
Just to say (especially to those starting out), that whilst the old saying "There are old, and bold but no old & bold etc" is sorely abused - when it comes to small boat navigation it is very relevant.

Never be shy about deciding "no" (before having to say "I wish I hadn't started!") or running away!......it is the sign of a good navigator and skipper not to bite off more can chew, even when others can chew more or are willing to risk finding out. No prizes for getting sunk first.....
__________________
Dockhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 13:15   #13
Moderator
 
HappyMdRSailor's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2008
Location: North Mississippi
Boat: 48 Wauquiez Pilot Saloon-C22 Chrysler Sunpiper- 19 Potter-Preparing to cruise w/my girl
Posts: 5,980
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

My best fit was option 3.... As said by others, Complexity of the harbor and consequences of the dangers are the primary factors .... easier and less serious consequences lends toward answers 1 and 2.... That being said, I only frequently enter 3 or 4 harbors at night without concern.... The few I know like the back of my hand...
__________________
In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair...

Mai Tai's fix everything...
HappyMdRSailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 14:25   #14
Senior Cruiser
 
roverhi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
Posts: 6,005
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

I nearly ran my boat up on a reef entering my home port years ago. I was very familiar with the channel and had entered at night many times. There were lots of background lights, there were no channel markers, and only an unlighted entrance buoy well off shore that I had missed. Lined up what I thought were the range lights for the channel and powered in. Fortunately a wave broke right at the stern while I still had depth to turn around, go back out to sea and start over. I'd been about 50 yards out of the channel. What I'd taken for the range lights were just some very bright, way brighter than the range lights, on shore that looked very similar to the range lights.

Since then have been extremely careful entering harbors that I'm familiar with and won't enter a harbor that I've never been into at night if I have any doubts even with GPS. So much safer and not much of an inconvenience to either time arrival to get there in daylight or heave to and just idle offshore till the son comes up. Seems like at least once a year and sometimes more often, someone runs up on the reef alongside the channel for the AlaWai Boat harbor. They get confused by the myriad of lights in Waikiki.
__________________
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
roverhi is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2013, 14:39   #15
cat herder, extreme blacksheep
 
zeehag's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: furycame alley , tropics, mexico for now
Boat: 1976 FORMOSA yankee clipper 41
Posts: 17,772
Images: 56
Send a message via Yahoo to zeehag Send a message via Skype™ to zeehag
Re: Poll - Harbor Pilotage at Night

we made ity into biloxi in darkness--i would not do that without 2 souls on board--one to look for lighted buoys and one to drive--was not fun....
went into zihuatenejo bay sans fuel in darkness--easy peasy -- straight into bay, dump anchor and set well..is good until next day or month or whenever you will decide to change--but some of those usa ports in darkness really sukk..like mission beach entry--where it looks like you need to be farther to port than the entry is so you hit rocky beaches--lol----ambiguous lighting in tampa bay..many places in usa are not clear as to the channel placement --must have eyes open and attentive.
ensenada is another with a strange entrance--follow the ships into port....
__________________

zeehag is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 15:30.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.