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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 03-17-2011
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Overuse of technology

We were talking about using GPS in another thread, and it reminded me of a funny kayaking story. I'm a Sea Kayaker and was leading a novice on a quarter mile crossing to an island, that involved strong cross currents. He had a brand new kayak and hand held GPS unit, which he had proudly attached to the deck of the Kayak. I told him he would have to aim high (using a "Ferry Angle") and really dig in with the paddle in order to reach the Island. I left shore and made it to the Island, only to look across and see him right were I had left him! I waited for a while, he didn't leave shore. Finely, I returned to find out what the problem was.
He told me "Well...my GPS said I wasn't making any progress. It said I was moving half a Knot back wards". I said: "Looking over at the shore could have told you that! Now...turn the *&^%ing GPS off, aim high and dig in with your paddle. Follow me!" He did, and we made it to the island.
Point being, technology is great and certainly has it's place. However, when it is used in place of common sense it can be outright dangerous. IMHO!
Anyone have other sea stories of techno mis-application?

Last edited by L124C; 03-18-2011 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 03-18-2011
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No complaints from me. I think the GPS system is one of the great inventions of the 20th century. I often wonder how many accidents it has helped prevent by giving voice directions rather than driving looking at a map trying to find street signs or reading from a mapquest print out while driving. At the same time it is nice to not use one on my HD and just wander nice country roads and just see where you wind up.
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Old 03-18-2011
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This summer I was going into Morro Bay for fuel pre-dawn in pea soup fog on transit from San Francisco to San Diego. I told crew I wasn't going in blind and would wait for some visibility. Fog lifted a little as sun rose and I was able to see the entrance bouys. Crew with his new GPS in one hand and map in the other started to insist I should go into an area I knew to be foul. I pointed out the bouys, said I'm just going to keep the greens to port and reds to starboard, thank you very much. He kept insisting I run up on the beach, I couldn't get him to look up and see the obvious. He didn't have a clue about navigation, I swear sometimes he was looking at the map upside down.
Also had to explain that the thing on the boat's GPS was an oil rig, not a moving ship, since we don't have radar NOTHING on the screen was moving except us.
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Old 03-18-2011
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People seem to forget that technology is an information tool. All it does is give you another version of what we already know. Plus it is only as good as the information entered, which in some cases has been shown to be WRONG. I use GPS, Charts and when possible local knowledge to figure out how to get to where I need to go.
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Old 03-18-2011
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I had the opposite in the Grenadines last April when my Father in law saw dark water in front of us thinking there was plenty of depth. I consulted my handheld and the chart to find that the dark area ahead of us was a reef, not deep water. I had set the course for the day earlier but he thought he could take a short cut. Luckily the crew trusted my navigation skills over his so he was forced to comply.

This is a guy who hit the same large rock twice in his home waters. I asked him why he did not mark the rock on his chartplotter the first time and he said because he did not know how. So I asked if he took any visual bearings to elp avaoid the rock and he looked puzzled.

In these cases the technology would have kept him out of trouble if he had chosen to use them.

For the record, I am USPS advanced Piloting certified and often use paper chart and GPS for navigation.
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Old 03-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L124C View Post
on a quarter mile crossing to an island that involved strong cross currents.


He told me "Well...my GPS said I wasn't making any progress. It said I was moving half a Knot back wards". I said: "Looking over at the shore could have told you that! Now...turn the *&^%ing GPS off, aim high and dig in with your paddle. Follow me!"

I've said for YEARS that GPS makes people dumb. Well, not really, just leads them to do dumb things.

WTH do you need a freaking GPS for anyway when your destination is in sight? MAYBE if a really thick fog rolls in, but hey, a COMPASS will guide you then too.

Too many people spend too much time w/ their heads down instead of looking the hell where they are going.

I scared the crap out of a guy who was the GIVE WAY vessel one time. Can't prove it but it appeared he was A) only looking on the windward side of the sails, B) looking down at a handheld GPS.

I altered course to miss him and called HEY THERE as we passed. He was so freaking engrossed in whatever he was doing he about fell off the cockpit seat.
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Old 03-18-2011
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I heard that Japan is now 13ft. closer to the US. I am not sure how accurate that is but how do you think that affects charts and navigation in Japan now?
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Old 03-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treilley View Post
I heard that Japan is now 13ft. closer to the US. I am not sure how accurate that is but how do you think that affects charts and navigation in Japan now?
Given that 13' is a fraction of the length of most boats using GPS I doubt it would have much of an effect, unless you need a chartplotter to get from your bunk to the head at 2am. On the other hand, it might drive the geocachers to distraction.
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Old 03-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treilley View Post
This is a guy who hit the same large rock twice in his home waters. I asked him why he did not mark the rock on his chartplotter the first time and he said because he did not know how. So I asked if he took any visual bearings to elp avaoid the rock and he looked puzzled. In these cases the technology would have kept him out of trouble if he had chosen to use them.
If I hit a rock and didn't have the skills to note it's location (or detect and avoid it on a chart in the first place), I would at least avoid the area altogether after the first incident. It makes me shudder to think how many people like this are in charge of vessels! In this case I think throwing technology into the mix might just confuse things even more! Possibly providing a false sense of security while not understanding how to use the technology. You know the old story about the guy who activates the cruise control in his RV and goes into the back for a nap? I never really believed it, but then, hitting the same rock twice and still not knowing where it is? I guess anythings possible!
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Old 03-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailordave View Post
WTH do you need a freaking GPS for anyway when your destination is in sight? MAYBE if a really thick fog rolls in, but hey, a COMPASS will guide you then too.
I agree with every point you made sailordave except for this one. A compass does not compensate for the effects of wind or tide on a vessel's course. It simply tells you in which direction the boat is pointed. This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: "When fog descends, an anchor becomes a navigational device. It keeps you in a place where you are not sinking". I don't have GPS and therefore can't talk about using it in fog. However, I would trust it much more than a Compass. I do have a compass (of course), and anchor. I'll be choosing an anchor in fog. Having SF Bay as my home port, I would have thought fog would have been more of an issue as a recreational skipper than it has been. If it was a frequent issue, I still think my weapon of choice would be radar. Most of my dock mates who have radar say they have rarely, if ever, used it. It's my understanding that this in itself, can be a problem when it is used, as it takes practice to use effectively. If I had to work on the bay,or was cruising, I would have all four "navigational devices" at my disposal.

Last edited by L124C; 03-18-2011 at 02:29 PM.
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