Tartan 27' owner
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked 134 Times in 126 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH
I have a story that might be of some interest.
I joined the owner of a 51' Beneteau on my first "blue water" journey from Tortola, BVI to Turks & Caicos, some 400 nm. The boat had a recent chart plotter, auto pilot, radar, sat phone, and life raft. All equipment was in good working order as the boat had crossed the Atlantic with the ARC from the Canaries to the Caribbean a few months earlier. The owner was working the boat back up north and I joined him as the only crew for this leg.
Our course was essentially NNW to Turks & Caicos. Everything had been working perfectly and I'd come to learn how to read the chart plotter and how to adjust the auto pilot to keep the cross tracking error (XTE) to a minimum. The second night out, as we approached T&C the XTE began to read that we were heading a bit north of our intended course. No matter how I tweaked the auto pilot the chart plotter showed this drift to the north. I found nothing on the chart plotter display to help me understand what was going on.
It wasn't until I consulted the full paper chart of the Caribbean basin that was on the nav table that I realized we were passing near some banks (shallow areas) in an area where we were likely to encounter an arm of the gulf stream current. The shallower area nearby created a more pronounced cross current which was not evident from looking at the chart plotter alone.
Perhaps I did not know how to use all the functions of the chart plotter but having the paper chart along certainly gave me peace of mind that what I observed was explainable.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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