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  #51  
Old 08-10-2013
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Vanishing Seamanship

Heard the Coast Guard on the radio responding to a call for assistance. The boater's battery had died. He had no idea where he was. I heard the Coastie talking to the bay constable to see if they could help. All the boater could tell them is it was a white motorboat! Mind boggling.
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  #52  
Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondWindNC View Post
I'm not sure the losses really are becoming more common. Ships have always been lost at sea. And probably less so now with the additional navigation aids than in the Age of Sail. But when one is lost, we're far more likely to hear about it and discuss it.
I was going to say something very similar. There's a cool little museum in Beach Haven called the New Jersey Maritime Museum that has a database of 7200 known shipwrecks off the NJ coast, the vast majority before GPS, the vast majority professionally crewed, and that's only for like 130 miles of shoreline. I guess the more important technological advance since the old days is weather forecasting, but still...

At least when a ship went down in the 19th century, there was no public forum for the inland dinghy sailor to endlessly pontificate on what the skipper did wrong.
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  #53  
Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

"Seamanship" in this discussion seems to be narrowly defined as the ability to navigate and pilot rather than the broader meaning. And clearly navigation and piloting errors are prime contributors to loss of vessels and crews being placed in danger.

Considering seamanship in this thread using that narrow definition:

- I think that those who go to sea now with near-continuous fix information have a limited understanding of how to translate fix information into what is commonly called "estimated position" or EP. How many who know how to do it still do so with the 3 or 4 GPSs (Plotter/AIS/Handheld/Smart autopilot) giving us continuous fix info?

- In the "old days" when fix information wasn't continuous or necessarily accurate or reliable prudent mariners spent a good deal of time evaluating their navigation data to determine their EP. They realized that EP was the center of a "circle of uncertainty" within which - given various fixed and variable errors in navigation data - the ship would be located but that the EXACT position of the ship could never be known.

- They knew and continuously evaluated the errors that contributed to position uncertainty on the chart:
-- Fix error
-- Set and drift due to current
-- Leeway due to windage
-- Steering error
-- Compass error

and generally kept a hand DR from one fix to the next. They kept the entire circle of uncertainty safe until they could "collapse" the circle with a new fix.

They knew that all charts had errors and carefully evaluated every (paper) chart while voyage planning to understand the age and type of the survey(s) the chart was based on including sounding distribution and method. No one I know does this on a chart plotter.

With all that as background I ask:
- How often do you all evaluate your GPS fix for accuracy when underway? Do you do it periodically or is there some key you use to draw your attention to the need to evaluate fix accuracy? If you have to evaluate accuracy how do you assign error to the fix other than the "plus or minus 16 feet" or whatever the display says? Does your GPS unit signal with an audible signal when it has lost track on enough satellites to get a fix?
- Do any of you still use the concept of EP when navigating with GPS?
- How many of you still hand DR to stay in practice on the odd chance that all your GPS fix equipment goes Tango Uniform on you?
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  #54  
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondWindNC View Post
I'm not sure the losses really are becoming more common. Ships have always been lost at sea. And probably less so now with the additional navigation aids than in the Age of Sail. But when one is lost, we're far more likely to hear about it and discuss it.

I've had that same map framed on the wall in my 'office' for a couple of decades... Frankly, I think there's little relevance between those ships lost, and the spirit of the OP's post, and the sort of 'yachtsmen' I understand him to be referring to...

The overwhelming percentage of the Ghost Fleet on that map were sailing ships lost in the 19 century, prior to the age of steam... The next largest category is merchant vessels sunk by German U-Boats during WW II...

I'm gonna guess very few of those ships that were driven ashore along the Outer Banks were abandoned hundreds of miles at sea after being "caught in a storm", their crews called for rescue from another passing vessel, and drifted for several weeks until finally fetching up on the beach, little worse for wear...

Like this one, for instance... :-)

Sailboat That Traversed Sea Alone Scrapped for $1 | The Vineyard Gazette - Martha's Vineyard News


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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by gfh View Post
At least when a ship went down in the 19th century, there was no public forum for the inland dinghy sailor to endlessly pontificate on what the skipper did wrong.
There was such a public forum, the difference is that it served beer.
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  #56  
Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by fryewe View Post
"Seamanship" in this discussion seems to be narrowly defined as the ability to navigate and pilot rather than the broader meaning. And clearly navigation and piloting errors are prime contributors to loss of vessels and crews being placed in danger.

Considering seamanship in this thread using that narrow definition:

- I think that those who go to sea now with near-continuous fix information have a limited understanding of how to translate fix information into what is commonly called "estimated position" or EP. How many who know how to do it still do so with the 3 or 4 GPSs (Plotter/AIS/Handheld/Smart autopilot) giving us continuous fix info?

- In the "old days" when fix information wasn't continuous or necessarily accurate or reliable prudent mariners spent a good deal of time evaluating their navigation data to determine their EP. They realized that EP was the center of a "circle of uncertainty" within which - given various fixed and variable errors in navigation data - the ship would be located but that the EXACT position of the ship could never be known.

- They knew and continuously evaluated the errors that contributed to position uncertainty on the chart:
-- Fix error
-- Set and drift due to current
-- Leeway due to windage
-- Steering error
-- Compass error

and generally kept a hand DR from one fix to the next. They kept the entire circle of uncertainty safe until they could "collapse" the circle with a new fix.

They knew that all charts had errors and carefully evaluated every (paper) chart while voyage planning to understand the age and type of the survey(s) the chart was based on including sounding distribution and method. No one I know does this on a chart plotter.

With all that as background I ask:
- How often do you all evaluate your GPS fix for accuracy when underway? Do you do it periodically or is there some key you use to draw your attention to the need to evaluate fix accuracy? If you have to evaluate accuracy how do you assign error to the fix other than the "plus or minus 16 feet" or whatever the display says? Does your GPS unit signal with an audible signal when it has lost track on enough satellites to get a fix?
- Do any of you still use the concept of EP when navigating with GPS?
- How many of you still hand DR to stay in practice on the odd chance that all your GPS fix equipment goes Tango Uniform on you?
Good points

I am sure many don't do true DR anymore and a very dependent on their GPS fixes. Yes our CP as well as smart phone and IPad have audible signals when the lose the fix.

When we travel offshore or in fog we employ our charts and plot positions every hour. First by our estimations, then verified by our GPS fixes . Checks and balances not depending one on method. GPS when working has improved the system of DR.

In passages, races, I have previously taken there wasn't always the array of electronics there are today so that's how I was taught by other more experienced sailors. Even in recent years offshore experiences we have always kept a plotted chart with position. To plot expected course on a paper chart it is necessary to utilize the mitigating factors, current, wind drift or slide, to do the same on a CP you still have to do that. But can be used the same way as a paper chart, with the advantage of having a more accurate position than a circle of certainty that DR gives you.

We have always used the GPS as one of the tools for navigation, not the only one. I would say in my circle about 3/4 still do both DR as well as GPS navigation with about 1/4 whose only knowledge s the GPS.

That being said unless an EMP takes out all the satellites, isn't it fair to say that there are enough means on board to get a fix even if the electrical systems are all off. The position may be off 16 ft, but I trust its accuracy for exact position is more accurate and within my circle of DR position.

Seamanship to me is more than just navigation. It is also the ability to understand how to problem solve issues on your boat as well as continually assess changing conditions in weather, sea state and of curse wind and wind direction. There are so many facets of seamanship.

Some people i have found are great open water sailors, but when placed in confined spaces like NY Harbor, the Chesapeake, or any other closer quarter sailing they are not as confident or competent.
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  #57  
Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

How about a vote for the best navigator of all time?

I'll say captain cook.

What say you tribe?
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  #58  
Old 08-11-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

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Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
How about a vote for the best navigator of all time?

I'll say captain cook.

What say you tribe?
Amerigo Vespucci
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  #59  
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

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Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
Amerigo Vespucci


"They live together without king, without government, and each is his own master...Beyond the fact that they have no church, no religion and are not idolaters, what more can I say? They live according to nature, and may be called Epicureans rather than Stoics."
– Amerigo Vespucci
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

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