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Bill, I agree but I was trying to be generous as many an experienced seaman has come a-cropper due to extenuating circumstances.

I also agree that people put too much faith in the plotter and tend to ignore the depth contours. I frequently use the depthfinder and my compass to nose around in the fog (no radar installed yet as the new radars look worth waiting for). I believe that a simple numerical depthfinder of surpassing robustness, plus the proper paper chart and a sense of where you are in the tide cycle can supply you with a great deal of information in tight situations that a complicated multi-function plotter (or simply standing at the bow and STOPPING or heaving to until you've figured things out) can do.

I just finished last night a rereading of Alan Villiers' By Way of Cape Horn which discussed his hard passage on the old grain sailer Grace Harwar. With no engine, deep-laden and with a foul bottom, they had to tack back and forth in within miles of their final port waiting for a favourable tide and winds, adding days to their trip. They knew that the prudent thing wasn't the easy thing, and that sometimes you have to back the hell off if you want to get the boat home in one piece. Everyone today seems to want to drive their boats like a minivan in a shopping mall parking lot, with the CG and salvors playing the part of "OnStar"...
 

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Radar is useless there since all sorts of small boats fish alongside the jetty and would make it difficult to impossible to pick out the channel marker on a radar screen.
If you cannot deduce an extensive line of buoys set at one mile intervals on radar emanating from the sea buoy which, if memory serves, has a Ramark showing "alpha" on every radar screen I'd venture to say that the user needs more instruction and practice with the unit.

If you're myopically watching only on a short range scale it is easy to get confused. That is why you use a variety of scales. Acquire a good portion of the buoyed channel and identify the next set of buoys by counting backwards from a presumably known buoy and then shift scales downward as desired. The buoys are conveniently placed one mile apart so the math is not exactly irksome.

You don't even have to know exactly which buoy you're looking at; all you need to do is remain between them. As Bill mentions, judicious use of the lowly fathometer will go a long way towards keeping the boat on the wet. entering and departing port is the riskiest portion of the voyage. One should spend enough time with the chart that, should you not be able to look at it, you've committed enough to memory to intuitively know if you're safe or not. You don't have to be exactly where you planned but you have to know that you're in safe waters and, should that change, where safe water lays.

Unfortunately, almost every grounding occurs from poor seamanship of one sort or another. The single hander who departs on a vessel where he cannot monitor the radar and pilot the boat at the same time, in conditions where radar will be essential for navigation, has committed poor seamanship by the decision to depart alone...the only question being whether he pays the price for it or gets lucky. Likewise, giving greater credence to other navigation equipment on board over what the fathometer tells one is poor seamanship as well. How ever did they pilot in and out of Charleston before the advent of radar, GPS, and chartplottters? Very carefully, obviously. And using all navigational means available.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
This boat was cleared this morning. A friend told me it was on the north jetty, not far from shore.

Glad the crew is OK; sorry they lost their boat.

But....

I just don't see how anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of marine navigation could manage to fetch up on the north jetty nearshore.

Bill
 
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