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  #1  
Old 01-13-2013
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HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

Let me introduce myself and my reasons for joining the forum. I work for the RNLI and am undertaking a MSc in Maritime studies at Portsmouth University. The aim of the research is to determine if leisure craft users and professional mariners are being best served by the navigation equipment in use by them at sea. Is the equipment displaying information and hazards sufficiently and correctly to allow a skilled or semi-skilled navigator to navigate safely and determine if he is in danger or at risk. How does the user interact with the navigation display? Is the menu system intuitive and does the display provide enough resolution for users to easily determine dangers to navigation? Does the system allow for other sensors to add to the display such as Automatic Identification System(AIS), echo sounder, radar. Also are the various technical standards compatible across different navigations systems? If so does this information provide additional information or does it run the risk of overwhelming the individual. Is the over-reliance on these navigational aids, the total acceptance that what they display is correct actually making it more unsafe for users who could then become the casualty in SAR?
My reasons for joining are to canvas other forum users for any personal experiences they have had where their electronic navigation equipment has failed. Failed in the sense of not working in total or not working correctly and so leaving them in danger of grounding. Has the chart updates been late in coming or non existent. If upon buying new equipment or using equipment that they are not familiar with they have been overwhelmed with the information supplied to them. Do many users have AIS/Radar/echo sounder feeds into their navigation system display. Would anyone like to relate a story where they have found themselves at risk due to navigating using only electronic navigation aids? I can assure anonymity.
If you have any good experiences of utilising the cutting edge technology to assist in your navigation they would also be greatly appreciated. Be it a faster appreciation of the surrounding area using an electronic display or it's ease of operation in wet environments compared to paper charts all would be appreciated.
I have been granted access to all the RNLI records for my research but only to gather statistics. Which is why I have to reach out to others for specific examples and others thoughts. My aim is to be able to provide the RNLI with recommendations for the future provision of training and sea safety advice. I can be contacted via PM at this website
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Old 01-13-2013
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HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

Let me introduce myself and my reasons for joining the forum. I work for the RNLI and am undertaking a MSc in Maritime studies at Portsmouth University. The aim of the research is to determine if leisure craft users and professional mariners are being best served by the navigation equipment in use by them at sea. Is the equipment displaying information and hazards sufficiently and correctly to allow a skilled or semi-skilled navigator to navigate safely and determine if he is in danger or at risk. How does the user interact with the navigation display? Is the menu system intuitive and does the display provide enough resolution for users to easily determine dangers to navigation? Does the system allow for other sensors to add to the display such as Automatic Identification System(AIS), echo sounder, radar. Also are the various technical standards compatible across different navigations systems? If so does this information provide additional information or does it run the risk of overwhelming the individual. Is the over-reliance on these navigational aids, the total acceptance that what they display is correct actually making it more unsafe for users who could then become the casualty in SAR?
My reasons for joining are to canvas other forum users for any personal experiences they have had where their electronic navigation equipment has failed. Failed in the sense of not working in total or not working correctly and so leaving them in danger of grounding. Has the chart updates been late in coming or non existent. If upon buying new equipment or using equipment that they are not familiar with they have been overwhelmed with the information supplied to them. Do many users have AIS/Radar/echo sounder feeds into their navigation system display. Would anyone like to relate a story where they have found themselves at risk due to navigating using only electronic navigation aids? I can assure anonymity.
If you have any good experiences of utilising the cutting edge technology to assist in your navigation they would also be greatly appreciated. Be it a faster appreciation of the surrounding area using an electronic display or it's ease of operation in wet environments compared to paper charts all would be appreciated.
I have been granted access to all the RNLI records for my research but only to gather statistics. Which is why I have to reach out to others for specific examples and others thoughts. My aim is to be able to provide the RNLI with recommendations for the future provision of training and sea safety advice. I can be contacted via PM at this website
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Old 01-13-2013
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

PM sent

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Old 01-13-2013
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

Seems I'm unable to access my PM as I've only joined today. Thank you and I'll get back to you as soon as I can read my PM's.
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Old 01-13-2013
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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.
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

MsC,

You have picked an interesting topic, but it is hardly original. Much of it duplicates private research done by vendors of marine navigation instruments. Every experienced navigator knows not to trust his navigation instruments blindly. GPS plotters, for instance, regularly report positions that are off as satellite orbital positions provide marginal fixes for a few minutes. Evey safety course teaches you to use several instruments with multiple methods of positioning and to depend first and foremost on the mark 1 mod 0 eyeball. Every safety course teaches the foregoing. How do you propose to amplify or modify that lesson?

I have done more than a few research projects myself and have considerable experience with collecting data. Frankly, I am wondering if you have thought through a few possible issues that are important to you or your respondents.
-- Is the data shared? If so, is the shared data stripped of identifying information? Who will see the stripped version? Who sees the original version? I am picky about releasing possible marketing information. Give it to the wrong person and perfectly good e-mail addresses and telephone numbers can be ruined, deluged for months or even years with unwanted solicitations. What an annoyance!

-- Are these results being shared with industry in addition to the RNLI? If so, how? If so, which industries?

-- Any answers you receive here are by their nature anecdotal, incomplete, and slanted. Further, the respondent's education and experience are crucial to understanding it. You cannot hope to develop credible statistics from such and may not even understand it fully without the complete context.

-- Who is your target audience? You mention you are part of RNLI, a worthy organization, to be sure! Your mentioning it leaves me with questions about who you are soliciting. Do you intend for your respondents to come only from the UK and its protectorates? Most of us who frequent these boards sail around the American continents, although we do have participants from all over the world.

-- The information you receive must be understood within its context. As a retired Naval Officer with years at sea, my navigating experience is extensive. Most of it transfers to small boat navigation. My best friend, on the other hand, has small power boat experience only and cannot navigate on a chart completely by hand. He steers channels in the ICS solely by sighting buoys. At a minimum, he needs a GPS fix to plot by hand on a chart. He is capable with inshore, coastal, and canal electronic navigation and visual piloting, but I would not trust him out of sight of land. How will you obtain the requisite context?

-- How will you ensure consistency in your data?

-- How will you ensure the veracity of your data? I am not saying my fellow Sailnetters prevaricate, but old memories in even older minds can be slippery things. Some have been known to embroider their stories to improve the telling of the tale. After hundreds of tellings they may not even remember the original.
Might I suggest you set up a survey at Survey Monkey? It will cost you nothing, ensure anonymity, improve consistency, and handle some of the donkeywork for you. Of course it will not improve veracity, but it will mean that my information is private and stays out of search engines.

Good Luck!

Tom
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Old 01-14-2013
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

One story that I find somewhat amusing. I cannot remember the names of the guilty party.

Sailing south down the coast of Brazil a sailor was using a simple GPS to keep track of his progress. He watch the latitude approaching 0 and was pleased with how he was doing. But suddenly he noticed that numbers were getting larger rather than smaller and thought that he must be in some current that was impeding his progress. The winds were light so he furled the genoa and turned on the engine and engaged the transmission. Glancing at the GPS he found to his dismay that the numbers still continued to get larger. So he applied more power which simply resulted in the numbers getting higher faster.

He then noticed that the latitude designation was followed by the letter "S".

That is what happens when you cross the equator.
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Old 01-14-2013
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

Is MSc interested in issues of mis-use or inappropriate reliance upon electronic navigation aids? The loss of the s/v Agean off the southern California/Mexico coast last year was traumatic for many sailors in the USA and seems very much to have been akin to a "controlled flight into terrain" accident. It's possible that some ergonomic/user interface issues may have been involved, if in setting the autopilot the operator did not think to zoom out or verify the course on a chart so as to avoid setting a course through north Coronado Island.
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

You might want to compare and contrast how aviators are trained to use their navigation and flight attitude instruments. Unlike many mariners, who profess that a qualified skipper would never rely on electronic navigation, aviators are trained to fully trust them. You have no choice inside a cloud with no visual references. Since an aircraft can move 3 dimensionally, you can't rely on your sense of balance to know up from down either. However, aircraft instruments must each be cross referenced to confirm their accuracy. Your artificial horizon may say you are straight and level, but then your altimeter and direction indicator must not be moving either. It is a routine and continual scan. Early training is designed to prevent you from fixating on any one instrument/answer.

I find it substantially easier to cross check a boat's navigation system, particularly around the coast. We can often see landmarks or navigation aids to confirm the chartplotter is correct. Even when visibility is reduced, you can plot toward nearby nav aids and simple math (dead reckoning) will tell you when you should come within sight of it. Sometimes its as simple as confirming the depth you would expect for your reported position.

While I've heard stories of marine gps systems giving false readings, I've only experienced them going arse over elbows entirely (I've had this happen in an aircraft as well). If my chartplotter appears to be working at all, I've always experienced outstanding accuracy. However, I am constantly cross checking what it tells me. Constant in the aircraft is once every 10 seconds and in the boat its once every 10 minutes.
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Old 01-14-2013
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Re: HELP NEEDED FOR MSc RESEARCH

One concern for navigation isn't the electronic instruments themselves, but the quality of the data and the huge difference between electronic precision and data accuracy.

Of course, the earth's surface is somewhat irregular and isn't modeled perfectly by various geometric models for the purposes of navigation, but the big concern is old chart data that has been incorporated into electronic maps without in some cases being verified to anything resembling modern standards of accuracy. Hence the horror stories of south Pacific islands being encountered miles from their charted positions, or the recent story of explorers finding that a charted south Pacific island -- didn't exist at all.
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