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Old 10-31-2019, 03:51 PM   #1
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Sometimes an autopilot can be bad

Boat/US has an article about 2 guys out fishing off San Diego. On the way back the owner went below to sleep. His crew was driving and put the autopilot on and then fell asleep. The 28í cat power boat with a tuna tower entered a 15í tall cave at which point the crew woke up. They were able to get a call out on channel 16. CG, Life Guards and Tow Boat/US responded and found them 200í inside the cave. They swam the crew out and had to leave the boat there due to a big storm and surging in the cave. When they were able to get back into the cave the boat was destroyed. I guess that you should not all go to sleep when you are on autopilot...
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Old 10-31-2019, 03:55 PM   #2
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A couple of photos of the cave and the boat.
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:59 PM   #3
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Betcha some adult beverages were involved also!
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:15 PM   #4
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We were on the water that day and heard the PanPans being broadcasted by COast guard SD. Bystanders were reporting people in the water.

Several weeks ago I was out with some friends on a fishing/dive trip. A center console near the Coronados Islands in Mexican waters. Short version on 16 with CG SD: we have a leak, we are going in the water (15 mins later). Scooped up by the Mex Navy, transferred to a Nearby US vessel who apparently brought them back.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:25 PM   #5
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Amazing how well the autopilot was able to find that cave rather than smash up on a presumable rock bluff.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:30 PM   #6
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Yea, interesting how they hit that spot. I have Spent a lot of time surfing along these cliffs. If it’s the area I am thinking of, there are quite a few little caves and cut outs from erosion.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:53 PM   #7
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Of course, it was not the autopilot that was bad. The autopilot did exactly what an autopilot is supposed to do. It was the idiot boaters, who grossly misused their autopilot, who were "bad."
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:23 PM   #8
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When Loran "C" first came out the boating community was full of stories of boaters following a set course, not noticing islands or peninsulas. Of course it is still possible with chart plotters and still does happen with an inattentive capt. or crew.

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Old 10-31-2019, 06:24 PM   #9
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Of course, it was not the autopilot that was bad. The autopilot did exactly what an autopilot is supposed to do. It was the idiot boaters, who grossly misused their autopilot, who were "bad."

Well said!
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:34 PM   #10
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:36 PM   #11
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Yes, it was very good luck to hit the cave. While it was pure stupidity or whatever to get in that situation to begin with. And I did not mean that the autopilot was bad, I sometimes use sarcasm...
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:44 PM   #12
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Someone call Elon Musk. We need self driving boats with accident avoidance.
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:49 PM   #13
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:21 PM   #14
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So it is evident the AP was not being used in route following. The way I use my AP, I would have hit my pier instead of some other terra firma had I gone to sleep.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:34 PM   #15
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So it is evident the AP was not being used in route following. The way I use my AP, I would have hit my pier instead of some other terra firma had I gone to sleep.
Unless they didn't confirm a course change and the AP disengaged. Throttles-up kept right on going in whatever course they were on.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:36 PM   #16
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This is exactly why I don't have a chair at the helm. When I was a fisherman, every year there would be some commercial boat coming in with the deck watch asleep in a comfy chair.
One was a large dragger coming into Crescent City, CA. He came up on the sloping beach so gently, the watch didn't wake until the engines sucked up sand and the alarm went off. The insurance had the catch unloaded with a helo. The boat came off with minor damage.
A year later a salmon boat came into Bodega Bay outer anchorage, had somehow passed over the reef, and began bouncing off anchored boats until the watch woke and got the boat under control. Nobody sank, but a real mess, no insurance.
That same year and anchorage, a big yacht came across the reef on autopilot. Several of us tried to raise him on the radio. But he calmly crossed the reef, turned into the channel and docked at The Tides. Later when someone approached him about the reef, he said he didn't notice it on the chart or when crossing.
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Old 10-31-2019, 08:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boathealer View Post
Unless they didn't confirm a course change and the AP disengaged. Throttles-up kept right on going in whatever course they were on.
Yeah, I leave mine on auto waypoint switching. Why have route following if you have to manually confirm the course changes? Auto keeps me on my toes making sure the AP does what it is supposed to at each WP. I suppose there are opposite opinions here, no matter how flawed.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:02 PM   #18
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Unless they didn't confirm a course change and the AP disengaged. Throttles-up kept right on going in whatever course they were on.
When I am in route following mode, WP switching is in auto. Not sure why one would want to do it manually. AP doing ANYTHING in any mode makes me very alert to what it's doing based on a very healthy disrespect for the supposed dependability of piece of electronics to save my butt. It removes some work load, sure, but it actually heightens my awareness rather than sending me to the land of snooze.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:09 PM   #19
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Years ago my late father-in-law was out crabbing with some buddies from work. It was a sparkling cold winter day and they were down below enjoying coffee and the heat from the diesel stove. My father-in-law had set the autopilot on course for a bell buoy that marked a point where the crabbing was good.

Time got away from him as they talked down below. Yup, you guessed it.

BANG!!!!! BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG!

Those guys got such a kick out of the old salt smacking that buoy. He noted that his World War II surplus autopilot was dead-nuts accurate holding a course. No harm done...he had made his bow pulpit rail out of monel and he simply beat it back into shape. The boat was an old Higgins boat that had been wrecked in a typhoon on Okinawa and sold as scrap. He had bought it and converted it to a yacht, then had it shipped home when his tour of duty was up. Tough as nails, that thing was. No mere buoy was going to phase it.

He loved telling that story!
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Old 11-01-2019, 04:56 AM   #20
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Lepke, I didnít have a helm chair on my Burger but thatís because it came that way, with just the bench seat about 4 feet back.

So we either hand steered standing, or sat at the bench on autopilot. Not sure it would really make any difference to keep someone from falling asleep.

BTW, I never did like Bodega Bay, but it was amazing seeing those elephant seals out on the rocks north of the channel.
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