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Old 05-11-2015, 10:14 AM   #61
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Despite what others have said, I do think that having charts (either actual charts or a chartkit) on board AND knowing how to use it, is a good idea. In the last few years I have had two electrical failures that rendered my on-board electronics useless. The first failure involved an alternator failure after spending a couple of days on the hook with correspondingly depleted batteries. I didn't have enough battery power left to run electronics AND the engine, so out came the chartkit. The second time I was underway when all my house side electrical systems failed (no electronic charting, no radar, no depth sounder, no cabin lights, no windlass and worst of all no refrigeration so the beer was getting warm). Not knowing why my systems suddenly failed, I was reluctant to switch over the electronics to the start battery and possibly lose the rest of my electrical system (i.e., the engine). I also didn't want to shut down to troubleshoot the problem because of the risk of not being able to start the engine again. So, I navigated with charts while making a top speed run home so the beer wouldn't be undrinkable when I got back. The point is, things happen, being prepared for those things is NOT a bad thing.

By the way, I NEVER write on my charts. A set of parallel rules and dividers is all I need, plus the mark one eyeball (augmented by binoculars with an internal compass for bearings).

Even when everything is working, I always have the chartkit on the bridge deck and I consult it before entering a new place or one I haven't been into for a few years.

Finally, even with electronic charts, you have to update them to keep them current. Even a brand new chart chip is generally out of date by the time you get it.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:27 AM   #62
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I didn't have enough battery power left to run electronics AND the engine, so out came the chartkit.
Redundancy would have solved that trivially. An iPad along with an additional power source would have done everything needed.


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Finally, even with electronic charts, you have to update them to keep them current. Even a brand new chart chip is generally out of date by the time you get it.
Again, redundancy would eliminate that, especially in the US or with the apps out today - you should have charts different from the built-in set of chartplotter "chart chips". NOAA updates a significant number of their charts every week. The updates can be downloaded easily for free. Apps like Garmin's provide 6 month updates - all of North America (Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, etc) costs something like $44 and $22 to update the charts. The shipping costs for equivalent paper charts would cost more.

The reason people don't update their paper charts is because they know, deep down, that they're not really being used and don't want to spend the $100+ for each section.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:39 AM   #63
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It's natural that dependence changes as equipment becomes more dependable and as we figure out redundant systems. I remember how frustrating it was years ago if you'd go to a retail establishment and they couldn't help you because their "system was down", meaning they couldn't use their registers. I was disappointed they didn't have manual back up procedures.

However, today, we are in retail and out back up is also electronic. First, if connectivity is lost we proceed without and it connects when it can, storing the data until then. All needed information is also available locally. Second, we have tablets as back up systems. Instead of using the internet the store equipment uses, they can use wireless internet. Also, the longest outage on the primary system we've encountered to date was two minutes. Just required a quick reboot. We could even operate with electricity out, but we won't for safety reasons. Power goes out, emergency lights on and orderly clearing of the store.

Boats are the same. Your back up systems can be separate electronic systems that function based on different resources. As these systems get more dependable, fewer will depend on paper for backup.

Now my conversations and observations have shown that the majority of those still carrying and using paper do so simply because they like it. Nothing wrong with that. But it's not necessary either. It's a choice. I compare it to books. We buy every book we can electronically. We read only on Kindle unless it's just not available there. However, I still respect those who just don't feel right if they don't have a traditional book in their hands and can't manually turn it's pages and hold it. Now, a generation from now, the kids will look at that and think, "how odd."
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:25 AM   #64
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Redundancy would have solved that trivially. An iPad along with an additional power source would have done everything needed.
I partially agree with Jeff that an Ipad or similar device makes a great, independently powered backup navigation device.

I completely agree that most boaters do not know how to use paper charts. I use to teach and give the exams for Captain's licensing and the Charting portion of the test was always what most students failed.

However, I don't agree that paper charts are dangerous and I have actually been in a situation where they saved my bacon. I was working on a charter fishing boat (54') that had the pilot house windows blown out while crossing a very treacherous bar. We lost all the electonics and pretty much everything that was in the pilot house.

Pulling out the dripping wet paper charts allowed us to quickly figure out what heading we needed to get back on (as we were wallowing in huge breaking waves at the time) so we could get back to deep water and sort out the wreckage.

To this day, I keep paper charts of entrances to the few ports of refuge along the West Coast and pull them out whenever I'm crossing. Old school, I know, but charts still work when they are wet.

YMMV,
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:24 PM   #65
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Despite what others have said, I do think that having charts (either actual charts or a chartkit) on board AND knowing how to use it, is a good idea. In the last few years I have had two electrical failures that rendered my on-board electronics useless. The first failure involved an alternator failure after spending a couple of days on the hook with correspondingly depleted batteries. I didn't have enough battery power left to run electronics AND the engine, so out came the chartkit. The second time I was underway when all my house side electrical systems failed (no electronic charting, no radar, no depth sounder, no cabin lights, no windlass and worst of all no refrigeration so the beer was getting warm). Not knowing why my systems suddenly failed, I was reluctant to switch over the electronics to the start battery and possibly lose the rest of my electrical system (i.e., the engine). I also didn't want to shut down to troubleshoot the problem because of the risk of not being able to start the engine again. So, I navigated with charts while making a top speed run home so the beer wouldn't be undrinkable when I got back. The point is, things happen, being prepared for those things is NOT a bad thing.

By the way, I NEVER write on my charts. A set of parallel rules and dividers is all I need, plus the mark one eyeball (augmented by binoculars with an internal compass for bearings).

Even when everything is working, I always have the chartkit on the bridge deck and I consult it before entering a new place or one I haven't been into for a few years.

Finally, even with electronic charts, you have to update them to keep them current. Even a brand new chart chip is generally out of date by the time you get it.
If you NEVER write on your charts, how would you plot a course based on calculated set and drift?

Do you carry maneuvering board pads?

Please don't take this personal as it probably affects most here.
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:46 PM   #66
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I understand all the reasoning behind the excuses given in this thread about paper charts being useless to dangerous. The reasoning is sound but the basic premise is very blindered with regards to reality, as the responses in favor of having paper on board have proven.

I am by no means saying that boaters should use paper over electronics. And I'm not saying that a boater should even have paper on his or her boat to have a perfectly successful boating "career," although I personally feel that a boater who pooh-poohs paper charts and the ability to use them is a boater that I don't want to be on a boat with regardless of how much experience they say they have, not because they don't use paper but because their attitude is indicative of the kind of person I inherently don't trust.

It's interesting that the people who are the most vehement about paper being worthless all learned to navigate with it. While they may abhor using paper today, the fact they learned with it means they have a ground-up understanding of how navigation works. That, to me, is the value of knowing how to navigate using paper charts and their associated tools.

Sure, one can do on a screen what one can do on paper, but a big reason why that works is because one is simply transferring a good understanding of navigation to another medium.

The best, most creative, efficient, and productive professional movie and video editors tend to be the ones who started out editing film. While film is still being used in theatrical movie production, its use is dwindling rapidly. But editing film installs a mental approach to editing, an approach that cannot be matched if one starts out in video. It is a far too complex thing to explain here, but it's true. The editing skill-- and I'm not talking about the physical process but the mental process-- developed by editing film are easily transferred to editing video. The person starting out in video is generally a lesser editor by not having had the experience of film.

This is not the world's best analogy because compared to creative editing, navigating a boat around is something my dog can do. But I believe the premise holds true. I have witnessed more than one person, brand new to boating, buy a new boat with a typical new-boat navigation system, and they were completely flummoxed by the electronics. They were baffled by two things-- the navigation process and the electronics themselves. And in the end, the person trying to explain the navigation part ends up drawing pictures or showing them how it all works using... a paper chart. THEN the boat owner has at least a glimmer of understanding they can apply to their electronics.

So to me, dismissing paper charts as being worthless is a fairly ignorant position to take, ignorant in the sense of not understanding how people learn, retain, and apply knowledge. Does a person have to continue using paper? Of course not. Are they wrong if they WANT to continue using paper, or have them on board for some reason that makes sense to them? Of course not. Are they DANGEROUS to have on board? Well, are they any more dangerous to have on board than a full electronics suite that the boater doesn't really know how to use but tries to? Of course not.

But trying to make a case that having paper charts on board a boat in this electronics age is pointless, worthless, stupid, etc. shows a lack of understanding of how people learn, and how people can be very different in making their knowledge and experience apply to what they do. It's a very close-minded position to take.

PS-- Psneeld... While we navigate with electronics we keep the relevant chartbook at the helm. We plotted and drew the courses we use most often on the charts along with the magnetic heading for each leg so we have something we can instantly transfer our navigation to in the event we have to sort out a problem with the electronics. Probably won't ever have to do it but I've long since learned in the industry that I'm in that "probably" is not something you want to bet on.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:00 PM   #67
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Without constantly plotting set and drift and adjusting your course....you you aren't really navigating...you are just following along on paper.

Many of us old timers do that in our heads anyway..but NO way would I lie to myself that if I were immediately immersed in fog....I could accurately start dead reckoning...not with my scaredy cat old life and home along for the exercise.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:01 PM   #68
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Yes because all of my electronic chart systems can be used the same way that paper charts are used when there isn't any GPS available.........So the electronic display is just as good as paper when the GPS fails......... the electronics will be far superior because the paper chart never shows you where you are.
My chart books do make a great hot pad, however.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:13 PM   #69
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However, I don't agree that paper charts are dangerous ,
Let's be careful about misinterpreting what was said. Jeff's statement should be considered in the context of his entire post. He said they were dangerous because:

-Few boaters today know how to use them. That most people he encounters haven't used them or practiced using them in years.

-And that he's found most of the charts he's found on boats have been quite outdated.

I think Jeff would agree without question that if you know what you're doing and have practiced recently and if your charts are up to date, then they're not dangerous for you.

That's no different than any of the tools if we fail to keep in practice and fail to keep them up to date. Our electronic charts would be dangerous too. But the real point is the people he has run across in his travels, the people who probably don't frequent Trawler Forum.

I would say I've run across a couple of those boat owners as well. Both I think of quickly I met at Marina's shortly after they'd run aground and been towed. The first was an older couple from Long Island and this was their first cruise ever down the ICW. Their charts were 15 years old. We printed out current charts for the area they were intending to cover next. However, they were truly shaken over the experience. They were amazed to see the differences in the charts and, frankly, so was I. As to how to use the charts, the extent of their knowledge was looking ahead on them, but no knowledge at all of plotting. A captain spent much of the following day giving them lessons on charts and giving them details on areas in the direction they were headed.

The second was a couple that had just bought a boat, headed on an adventure, with their neighbors old charts. Neighbor gave them to them because they only use electronic now. This couple had zero training. They were trying to follow the Magenta line. This was in SC and there was a shoaled inlet and they just took the most direct route instead of moving toward shore as they needed to. Here it was both outdated charts and their lack of any knowledge.

Both of these couples thought they had it covered because they had charts with them. Neither had gotten any necessary training. The danger wasn't charts, but it was their assumptions regarding them and their lack of training.

And to be fair I saw the same thing happen to someone with Garmin and electronic charts. They bought a used boat and took off to the Keys. The boat was about 15-20 years old and I don't believe those charts had ever been updated. I think the original owner just took what came with it and that was it. Regardless, a lot had changed in the Keys. Primarily depth in some areas.

Now, I haven't checked with enough people to know how many know how to use their plotters or their charts. I'd say without proper training and experience both are dangerous. And in the Eastern US they're dangerous if not up to date.

The only thing I'm really taking from all this discussion is that whatever your primary means of navigation and whatever your secondary/backup methods, it's important that you really be prepared to use them. Just having them available isn't enough.

We all should probably do a bit of "rainy day" testing of ourselves. Cover any or all of your electronics or turn your autopilot off. Sometime in your life you may need your backup. Don't be like the guy who has a spare tire in his trunk, the only problem being it's the one that came with his 20 year old car and he's never checked it so it's as flat as the one he's removing.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:43 PM   #70
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Without constantly plotting set and drift and adjusting your course....you you aren't really navigating...you are just following along on paper.
I'm not quite that dumb.. I know what currents do, in the water and in the air. And I know how to compensate for them in both places, either using the tools or by simply "figgering" what the compensation should be. But having the magnetic course heading written next to each leg on the charts ahead of time is one less thing we have to figure out or even think about on the spot should we need to shift quickly to the paper. Then one of us can figure out the compensation while the other is maintaining the basic heading.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:14 PM   #71
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Set and drift isn't about being dumb...it's about accuracy. Guessing set/drift in DR isn't good enough.

If not done consistently and courses altered to know places to get a fix....good luck.

As I posted before..I haven't met a pro skipper or boater in the last 20 years that actually runs a parallel DR in case vis drops and the electronics go out....and plots a course to constantly make decent fixes versus long runs for time and economy.

I know what it really takes to precision DR pilot.....I am way too lazy to do it....and not willing to zig zag to reasonable fix points.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:23 PM   #72
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:43 PM   #73
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Marin wrote: "I am by no means saying that boaters should use paper over electronics. And I'm not saying that a boater should even have paper on his or her boat to have a perfectly successful boating "career," although I personally feel that a boater who pooh-poohs paper charts and the ability to use them is a boater that I don't want to be on a boat with regardless of how much experience they say they have, not because they don't use paper but because their attitude is indicative of the kind of person I inherently don't trust.

It's interesting that the people who are the most vehement about paper being worthless all learned to navigate with it. While they may abhor using paper today, the fact they learned with it means they have a ground-up understanding of how navigation works. That, to me, is the value of knowing how to navigate using paper charts and their associated tools."

Snip! And..."But trying to make a case that having paper charts on board a boat in this electronics age is pointless, worthless, stupid, etc. shows a lack of understanding of how people learn, and how people can be very different in making their knowledge and experience apply to what they do. It's a very close-minded position to take."

Exactly Marin...exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I rarely look at paper charts anymore but plotting courses on paper charts was a big part of the power squadron courses that my wife and I took just 3 years ago. I really enjoyed it as did most everyone in the class. And in my view those lessens were priceless. Prior to that I had spent considerable time on commercial vessels practising my navigation skills but the course brought a lot of stuff together for me.

We are talking about first principals of navigation. I don't think it can be learned properly without first starting with paper charts and a compass. It's the same with math and other school subjects. All too often I see younger people who cannot do the simplest problems in there head. I can't tell you the number of times I've corrected cashiers for errors at the till, all because I can do some mental arithmetic.

I did quantitative stuff for a living. My organization was one of the first to embrace IBM PC computers in the workplace in 1983 and I took to it like a duck to water, building fairly complicated models and advancing to Monte Carlo Simulations and Bayesian methods. However, my first spreadsheet was ledger paper...and that brought me closer to the data than the young biologists today. I did my own data entry and I studied the data whilst doing so, it was a learning process. Today's biologists loose themselves in their models and don't take the time to reflect on the data and the underlying processes. It's a problem...in part because they want everything electronically. They can't see beyond their computer screens...not in all cases but in too many, in my opinion.




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Old 05-11-2015, 02:45 PM   #74
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:35 PM   #75
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Let's be careful about misinterpreting what was said. Jeff's statement should be considered in the context of his entire post. He said they were dangerous because:

-Few boaters today know how to use them. That most people he encounters haven't used them or practiced using them in years.

-And that he's found most of the charts he's found on boats have been quite outdated.

Very Good Points, but I still disagree. The same argument could be made for electronic charts.

-Few Boaters really know how to use them. Often following them blindly without understanding that the underlying data may be a century old, that depth curves and underwater features are often interpolated and incorrect. Years of running side scan sonars (looking for wrecks) has taught me that what's charted rarely resembles what is really there. Positions for Obstructions can often be as much as a mile off (far more dangerous is when they are only 50' off and you try to go around them).

-The vast majority of electronic charts on Chartplotters do not get updated either. I can't think of any pleasure boats that I have been on that regularly update their electronic charts. Some are using chips that are more than a decade old.

I saw several boats run aground this weekend. When I talked to the skippers, they couldn't understand why they had run aground when their electronic charts showed there was 5' of water (they had no concept of what a minus tide was). Not the fault of their charts, but it sure reinforced my idea that many boaters don't know how to read their electronic charts either.

Paper Charts may well create a false sense of security for many boaters, but I think they have the same false sense of security with the electronic charts that they use and abuse every day.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:40 PM   #76
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How many have ever traveled over 100 miles with multiple turns, multiple currents and variable winds in very low visibility or night and few navaids using only Dead Reckoning?

Even on the bridge of a commercial or government ship?

Plotting in a classroom is certainly fun...even more if you get to teach it and see the light bulb come on for most.

But who here is going to do it for fun with a valuable boat that may be your home, when many can call assistance towing for help with tricky parts or call out for a good Sam to lead the way?

Based on what you did in a classroom...and sorta do every once and awhile?

Again...I know few that can do it that I would trust with my boat/home.

The guys here that do the log races the old fashion way, and do it regularly...they may be some of the few.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:43 PM   #77
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Set and drift isn't about being dumb...it's about accuracy. Guessing set/drift in DR isn't good enough.

If not done consistently and courses altered to know places to get a fix....good luck.

.
Again, you're telling me what I already know and have known for decades. We don't navigate using plotted courses and corrections on charts because it's way too easy to simply follow the lines and arrows on the screen. But we know how to follow a plotted course on a chart and accurately calculate the corrections because we have both a) done if for a long, long time in the air, and b) have learned to do it and practice it just for fun periodically on the water.

Reading this thread has been very entertaining. I say entertaining because of the way navigtation is being talked about like it's some kind of super rocket science. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

The reality is that navigating a boat from A to B is about the simplest, easiest process on the planet. You are here, you want to go there, you figure out a course from here to there on which you will hit nothing but water, you figure out the headings to hold on each leg, you get current (and wind if it's relevant) information and dial it in with your speed to get the heading that has to held on each leg or portion of each leg if it's a long one that will be influenced by several currents along the way, and that's it. Maintain the headings and the speed and you're done. You get to Point B every time. One reason it's so dead easy is that the stuff you're navigating around doesn't move while you're navigating around it.

As someone earlier in this thread said, man has been navigating around on this planet for a bazillion years. For example Capt. Vancouver got himself from England to Puget Sound and then found England again when he went home using tools that a competent craftsman could make in his garage with the probable exception of the clock.

The process is way, way easier to do today, but it's no different. It's still getting from A to B to C without hitting anything but water. And doing this, be it with charts or a plotter, is very, very easy.

In fact, it is FAR more difficult, and requires FAR more precision and decision making and calculations-- decisions and calculations that have to be made almost instantly in many cases, some of which could have fatal results--- driving to work and back every day.

So this portrayal of navigating a boat around as some sort of super challenging, difficult process is, to me, laughable, frankly.

And don't tell me about the time when one had to steer the boat and hold a heading in 50 foot waves and 100 knots winds. That's not describing the havigation process. That's desribing the conditions one was in while navigating the boat. The navigation process was still the same old, basic "go from A to B without hitting anything" it's been for bloody forever.

So when I see posts talking about the difficulty of navigating with charts, or the wonders of navigating by electronics, I'm not impressed. They're both dead easy, be it poking around the islands here or out in the middle of the Pacific.

I had a girlfriend in Hawaii who not long after I met her asked me how I navigated the planes I flew between the islands. She'd never been in a small plane and of course had never been on the flight deck of an airliner, so knew nothing about flying or navigation. So I told her I'd show her. Took her on a date to Kona on the Big Island (we were on Oahu). Fairly long flight, multiple legs, lots of waypoints (Flight Following was mandatory in Hawaii back then so even if you flew VMC you still had to fly between specific waypoints on each island and report in when you got to them).

Before we left I explained the basics of navigation and how the wind affects the plane and all that. Back then the "high tec" navaid for aircraft was VOR. Explained to her the basics of how it worked, what the display was showing, and how to hold a course. This is all really simple stuff and took only a few minutes to run though.

We took off, and once at altitude I told her what the basic flight controls did and let her fly. It took her awhile to get used to the reaction of the plane, but once she did she flew the entire flight, kept the needle centered pretty darn well the whole time, changed course at the waypoints, picked up the new courses, all with minimal input from me. In the strong tradewinds the fact that the plane often wasn't going in the direction it was pointed didn't phase her a bit once she'd been told the concept.

The point is, the concepts in navigation are very, very easy to comprehend and learn. Frankly, my wife and I regard navigation as about the easiest task in the overall operation of our boats. I'm not going to call it a no-brainer, but it's pretty darn close.

(The other thing my example illustrates is how easy it is to fly a plane. )
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:43 PM   #78
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:53 PM   #79
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I think Jeff would agree without question that if you know what you're doing and have practiced recently and if your charts are up to date, then they're not dangerous for you.
Absolutely. And related, if you haven't honestly done a real DR plotting in 2-3 years, you're going to have a hard time doing it well, especially in bad weather or stressful situations. Thinking back to how you used to do it in the 1990's just isn't good enough. I found that not doing it consistently over a couple of years made the skills go away. Perhaps I'm just not as intelligent as others here though.

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Originally Posted by BandB View Post
Both of these couples thought they had it covered because they had charts with them. Neither had gotten any necessary training. The danger wasn't charts, but it was their assumptions regarding them and their lack of training.
That's just semantics. Except for a possible paper cut, I don't think there is a physical danger with paper charts. The problem was having the paper charts in the first place. Had they had electronic charts to follow, they would have had a greater chance - although sometimes there is no chance too. My whole premise is to get the paper charts off the boat so you don't think you have that backup. That's because the backup really isn't a backup and having the old, moldy charts back there is making some believe they're covered. They're not.

One thing about electronics that needs to be said too. Nothing is more important than looking out the window. Aids to navigation have precedence over any chart media. As much as I love iPad navigation, the window comes first.

I've had this debate for 18 months around cocktails, with new boaters, and with seasoned experts like Nigel Calder (who agrees with me for coastal cruising, by the way). It's just an observation but the people who seem to disagree the most are people who have been sailing for 10 years or more, or people who don't actually cruise out in their boats much and, I guess, are remembering the good old days. I'm not saying those are the only categories but it's fairly overwhelming.

If you're out in your car traveling to a new place hundreds of miles away, no one is using a paper atlas any longer. The same is true along the waterways and coastlines.
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:03 PM   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I know what it really takes to precision DR pilot.....I am way too lazy to do it....and not willing to zig zag to reasonable fix points.
Exactly.

And you're right about drawing on the paper charts too. I'm sorry but if you're offshore guessing at set and drift, you're not navigating. You're guessing. You're using your experience in the area to get where you're going. Using that type of guessing in a very unfamiliar place over any distance is a great way to end up disabled in a bad place because you thought the rocks were 4 miles from your location.

Even at my best with DR, there is no way I could have done it right without writing down the times, marking the points on the charts, and having a stopwatch. Unless you have pencil marks all over your paper charts, I'm sorry, you're not being honest in this debate. You're being nostalgic.
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