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Old 21-09-2021, 06:21   #1
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Boston Light beacon change

Wow, I have obviously fallen behind in my aids to navigation updates.

Approaching Boston last night after a week-long mini-cruise, I had trouble locating the oldest continually personed (the current keeper is the first woman to hold the position) lighthouse in the U.S., the 10-second flash of which had long been the first visible aid to navigation as you approach in the dark. (see attached chart detail.)

When I got close enough (a couple of miles out) I saw that the beacon is now two considerably less visible parallel flashing white lights at about a 6-second interval (I was too shocked to count.)

My first thought was energy-saving change to LED? Anyway, it had to have happened pretty recently.

It was only slightly disconcerting, since Boston is far from the only aid to navigation in the Outer Harbor, but if you are a laggard like me who tends to come in after dark, be forewarned.
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Old 21-09-2021, 08:15   #2
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

“Personed”??

Let’s be sure to get this right. It is not personed by a woman, but by a woperson. We are all good hupeople here.

The verb “to man” comes from the Latin word for “hand”. It is not not sexist, but refers to the ability to do work, specifically, but not exclusively, with your hands.

That, and I guess nobody even looks at LNTM anymore… do any sailors under 50 even know what that is?
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Old 21-09-2021, 08:34   #3
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

Looks like it's a recent outage; a new addition to this week's LNMs. No way you'd know if you'd been out for a week,
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Old 21-09-2021, 11:03   #4
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
“Personed”??

Let’s be sure to get this right. It is not personed by a woman, but by a woperson. We are all good hupeople here.

The verb “to man” comes from the Latin word for “hand”. It is not not sexist, but refers to the ability to do work, specifically, but not exclusively, with your hands.
Haha I knew this would get a rise out of someone!

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Originally Posted by BillKny View Post

That, and I guess nobody even looks at LNTM anymore… do any sailors under 50 even know what that is?
Probably not
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Old 21-09-2021, 11:04   #5
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by requiem View Post
Looks like it's a recent outage; a new addition to this week's LNMs. No way you'd know if you'd been out for a week,
Whew. Thanks.

It literally blew my mind.

I thought maybe I was losing it.
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Old 21-09-2021, 11:29   #6
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
The verb “to man” comes from the Latin word for “hand”. It is not not sexist, but refers to the ability to do work, specifically, but not exclusively, with your hands.

A complementary take: In Old English you had wermann/wǣpmann (male), wif or wīfmann (female), and mann (gender neutral). Unfortunately about centuries back wermann sort of disappeared.

But, now you also know the origin of "wife" and "werewolf".
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Old 21-09-2021, 17:47   #7
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

Most, if not all major lights have been changed to LED. These can look very different from what you're used to. I've found they often seem a lot closer than they are. It's very disorienting if you're used to the way they looked before.

Obviously in this case it's just a "Lt EXT." I thought I heard that Sally, the Boston Lighthouse Keeper, isn't doing that any more. I talked to her a month or two ago but never got around to asking. Certainly the end of an era, either way.
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Old 22-09-2021, 09:11   #8
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Most, if not all major lights have been changed to LED. These can look very different from what you're used to. I've found they often seem a lot closer than they are. It's very disorienting if you're used to the way they looked before.

Obviously in this case it's just a "Lt EXT." I thought I heard that Sally, the Boston Lighthouse Keeper, isn't doing that any more. I talked to her a month or two ago but never got around to asking. Certainly the end of an era, either way.
I hadn't heard that about Sally. I only met her once, but I really enjoyed the encounter.

It's just, as you say, the end of an era, and for me, the end of 50 years of looking out there and seeing that reliable, venerable beacon.

That sweeping 10-second beacon was unique in these waters, and visible from way, way out there. Now you get the flashes from two rectangular white lights that make it seem like an 89-foot-tall danger buoy.

I guess this isn't so important anymore; certainly there are enough lighted buoys in Nantasket Roads to get you into the harbor in that direction. Also, Graves was long ago dimmed and diminished, and Minot's distinctive I-love-you is really hard to pick up from out in the bay, but Broad Sound and the southern approaches are no more challenging than they were for the modern mariner.

I'm now girding myself for the end of NOAA raster charts.
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Old 22-09-2021, 12:25   #9
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by DMF Sailing View Post
I'm now girding myself for the end of NOAA raster charts.
I'm afraid that ship has sailed, too. I'm willing to accept, or at least tolerate change IF it's for the better.

Nothing wrong with the concept of vector charts, but the implementation has been horrible. I can only assume the work of digitizing centuries of chart data, produced by professional cartographers and ship captains, was outsourced to the lowest bidder in some far-away land where they have no clue about our geographic names.

All up and down the East Coast, I find cities, rivers, islands, landmarks, points, bays and harbors are not labeled on the vector chart. But far inland, some non-navigable pond or small hill invisible from the water is included on the chart.

Then there's the problem of the label positions. Cartographers would put the name of, say, an island right next to that island, where there was room on the chart. On larger or smaller scale charts, that same name might be on a different side of the island, where it's more readable on that chart.

But when all those different scale charts are digitized down to one flat layer, by someone who's never been to the local waters, it's a crap shoot where that name ends up. It might be next to the correct island, or some other island, or out in the middle of open water.

I'm waiting for the first lawsuit when a boater makes a distress call off "Bubba's Pond" (read off the chart) when they're really right off some prominent geographic feature or city that's not named on the chart.
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Old 23-09-2021, 07:24   #10
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I'm afraid that ship has sailed, too. I'm willing to accept, or at least tolerate change IF it's for the better.

Nothing wrong with the concept of vector charts, but the implementation has been horrible. I can only assume the work of digitizing centuries of chart data, produced by professional cartographers and ship captains, was outsourced to the lowest bidder in some far-away land where they have no clue about our geographic names.

All up and down the East Coast, I find cities, rivers, islands, landmarks, points, bays and harbors are not labeled on the vector chart. But far inland, some non-navigable pond or small hill invisible from the water is included on the chart.

Then there's the problem of the label positions. Cartographers would put the name of, say, an island right next to that island, where there was room on the chart. On larger or smaller scale charts, that same name might be on a different side of the island, where it's more readable on that chart.

But when all those different scale charts are digitized down to one flat layer, by someone who's never been to the local waters, it's a crap shoot where that name ends up. It might be next to the correct island, or some other island, or out in the middle of open water.

I'm waiting for the first lawsuit when a boater makes a distress call off "Bubba's Pond" (read off the chart) when they're really right off some prominent geographic feature or city that's not named on the chart.
I also have a gripe about the clarity of the illustration. Why is that 11-foot-at-MLW shoal (on the NOAA chart) marked on the Navionics chart as a rock that uncovers? And why is the design for a red lighted buoy so wimpy? Am I the only one who has to peer at that Navionics chart for a good while before I realize what it depicts? And would it be really that hard to include information about the sequence of that aid to navigation?

Oh, and Navionics has the number of the buoy wrong. It is 10, not 6. There's no way I'd feel comfortable navigating by this.
(Youngs: Feel free to "Ok, boomer" me.)
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:24   #11
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

Just as someone needs to be taught how to plot bearings and fixes on paper charts, people need to be taught how to use electronic charts. Simply handing someone the electronic version and saying "here you go, this chart will always tell you where you are" is a bit like handing someone a paper chart when they have no idea how to use it.

There are standards for presentation of electronic charts just as with paper charts. The general idea is that, just as with paper, once trained on how to use a chart, you should be able to use them all with minimal difficulty. Similarly, the location labels will always be the same direction and offset from the spot they mark. This is intentional, if perhaps not the best implementation.

Unfortunately (and this is not limited to nav apps) it often makes more business sense for a company to introduce products that are dumbed down and ignore existing standards, which then creates added complexity when people later need to sort out the mess it creates.

Navionics, to give them some credit, is actually using proper symbols in places (I'm slowly trying to move away from dismissing them as just a toy). On the other hand, the presentation is still quite divergent from what I'd expect of electronic charts, and I suspect this is largely due to their attempt to bridge the raster / vector divide for untrained users.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:50   #12
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by DMF Sailing View Post
I also have a gripe about the clarity of the illustration. Why is that 11-foot-at-MLW shoal (on the NOAA chart) marked on the Navionics chart as a rock that uncovers?

That symbol (red square around black dot) is for an always underwater rock, not a rock that uncovers. I don't know why the depths are slightly different, could be different survey data was used, or the data was interpolated differently.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:52   #13
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

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Originally Posted by DMF Sailing View Post
Oh, and Navionics has the number of the buoy wrong. It is 10, not 6. There's no way I'd feel comfortable navigating by this.
(Youngs: Feel free to "Ok, boomer" me.)
That's a hint to make sure you're really looking at the same location on both!

Suggestion: On the Navionics side, check the properties of those "rocks".

Here's what I think the locations you are referring to should look like:
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Old 23-09-2021, 19:16   #14
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

Quote:
Originally Posted by requiem View Post
Navionics, to give them some credit, is actually using proper symbols in places (I'm slowly trying to move away from dismissing them as just a toy). On the other hand, the presentation is still quite divergent from what I'd expect of electronic charts, and I suspect this is largely due to their attempt to bridge the raster / vector divide for untrained users.

Interesting consideration; never thought about it!
Thanks and fair winds.
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Old 24-09-2021, 07:22   #15
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Re: Boston Light beacon change

Quote:
Originally Posted by requiem View Post
That's a hint to make sure you're really looking at the same location on both!

Suggestion: On the Navionics side, check the properties of those "rocks".

Here's what I think the locations you are referring to should look like:
Doh!

You're right! In my haste to savage the app, I screenshotted different obstructions in the same channel (attached.)

I still don't like that the sequence is left off and that I have to relearn the symbols for "rock."

More importantly, for me, the NOAA chart just looks so much clearer. Rk instead of * for underwater rock so much more familiar. But obviously I have to adapt.
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