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Old 06-18-2014, 03:02 PM   #1
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Avoiding a peril of GPS plotters

With most boats having GPS plotters these days navigation from buoy to buoy in open water has become more perilous. In the past people were following a compass course and were going approximately toward the next mark. Today people are precisely going to the next mark with traffic in both directions following narrow path making for close passes in both directions. Meanwhile the rest of the ocean is empty.

To avoid continuous close passes I run a parallel course at least 1/4 to 1/2 mile offset from the buoy to buoy course. It doesn't add much to the distance but reduces the number of close passes.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:12 PM   #2
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looking out the windows helps...

also depends on what you use as waypoints....

I would say in the days of "not having a clue where you were" was just as dangerous as today where "not paying attention to where you are".....

There are certainly more boaters today that are less "conscientious" boaters as days gone by (as a percentage of all boaters)...but everything from more reliable engines to safer systems somewhat makes up for it....including chartplotters as far as I can tell.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:19 PM   #3
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I think the practice of slavishly following a route of GPS waypoints is a big part of the problem. I can remember during the early days of chartplotters a fellow boater on a yacht club cruise spent a half hour each morning putting in a couple of dozen waypoints for our 30 mile cruise that day. This was in Maine where keeping your head up is just as important as knowing where you are.

I rarely use waypoints. I use the extended course arrow and point the arrow where I want to go. I will watch the course made good and compare it to the bearing to where I want to go and make adjustments for wind and tide.

I think this approach makes me more aware of my surroundings. But at the end of the day, keeping your head up 99.9% of the time will keep you out of trouble.

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Old 06-18-2014, 03:28 PM   #4
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I agree with keeping a proper lookout however all that does is let me know some idiot is going to pass close.

Running a parallel course allows me to not care as much about his intentions.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:54 PM   #5
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Not sure if this has anything to do with GPS chartplotters affecting boater's modus operandi, or just boating becoming more populous and waters more crowded, especially in densely populated areas.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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Chartplotters are just tools...everyone uses them differently, in varying degrees, and to different levels of importance when navigating.

Bad or inexperienced navigators are just that...with or without chartplotters.

The sad story is the percentage that is emboldened by their presence yet don't have the experience to use them properly as needed.
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Not sure if this has anything to do with GPS chartplotters affecting boater's modus operandi, or just boating becoming more populous and waters more crowded, especially in densely populated areas.
Hmm!! Now I would have been more likely to blame a boat running on autopilot than a chart plotter??

But more likely a lot of people just don't use common sense or even give a darn!! Sometimes there is just way too much testosterone floating around on those boat?
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:38 PM   #8
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The plotters lead them,the autopilots drive them and The Lord watches over them...sometimes.


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Old 06-18-2014, 04:51 PM   #9
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Greetings,
All good points thus far. I might also caution against being a "magenta line" cruiser.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:15 PM   #10
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I can go down to Grief Point in the summer and watch the boats turn by autopilot at a waypoint published in a popular guidebook.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:33 PM   #11
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I'm really uncomfortable with the way some operators blindly let their electronics do everything for them. My boat came with an 11 year old Garmin GPSMap 182c. Cost $1500 new. I plot a course on my chart, create way points, and load their lat/long into the GPS. That gives me an arrow on the compass face to follow. Sometimes my magnetic compass matches, sometimes it doesn't. No big deal. My ComNav autopilot holds a heading. I set it to match the GPS arrow. I do not want a system the couples everything together. My chart and compass are still my primary navigation tools as we just do coastal cruising. The autopilot allows for alert watch standing without the hassle of steering. I'm always within arms reach of the a/p shut off switch in case something comes up. I assume any crossing or passing vessel has had no training in the rules of the road, and I'll do what is necessary to avoid a collision. Heck of a way to operate, but I'm rarely surprised, except by common courtesy.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:44 PM   #12
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Nothing compared to local nit-wits that run thru the fog without radar, on plane and staring only at their GPS. I see that all spring while fishing from the edge of the NJ ICW in my little CC. They dont even look up! No idea why there isn't more horrific collisions.
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:13 PM   #13
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Nothing compared to local nit-wits that run thru the fog without radar, on plane and staring only at their GPS. I see that all spring while fishing from the edge of the NJ ICW in my little CC. They dont even look up! No idea why there isn't more horrific collisions.
We watch them hit the shoaling just outside of Little Egg. Many a boat has been lost running on plane 2 miles off the inlet when they go from 50 feet of water to the bow thruster in the air once they are stopped by the heavy shoaling. Most never have their VHF radios on so warning them is met with silence.
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:46 AM   #14
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I don't have a system that lets the chartplotter drive the auto pilot. I had an experience last fall when the hydraulic steering system was low on fluid and the auto pilot was snaking the boat through the water like an anaconda trying to maintain a single heading. Sh$% happens, things break and you have to use all your tools and stay vigilant at the helm.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:18 AM   #15
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I rarely use waypoints. I use the extended course arrow and point the arrow where I want to go. I will watch the course made good and compare it to the bearing to where I want to go and make adjustments for wind and tide. David
We find in the PNW waters a course plotted every day is the easiest way to get there. My detest of slow to program plotters and niceties of our laptop based Nobeltec makes plotting and course changes a breeze. And when the fog roles in and visual cues disappear that prearranged course with radar and AIS makes "getting there" pretty easy.

Following buoys as Frydaze laments was a curse in the old sextant days too, or buoys in the River, or buoys in the channel, or the tip of Diamond Head, or the SE visible rock off the Southerly approach to Block Is, or aim to the center of Dunbarton Bridge when departing Redwood City YC - my point being there are always turning points that are commonly used. Capt Cook set up thousands of them around the world for others to follow.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:57 AM   #16
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I also run a "little off the beaten path" esp when I make the run from Mystic to Block Island. After clearing the narrow passages I run due south for about 3/4 mile before locking in on the BI Salt Pond buoy. This way I have never run close to another boat until I get about 1/2 mile from BI.
I purposely do this so when I run this course in the fog, like we get often, I don't have to worry too much about traffic.
And that's with the GPS/Autopilot running the boat. This way I can spend almost 100% of my time observing and listening.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:14 AM   #17
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Especially good practice if fog because today's boaters look at plotters and radar as infallible reality.
Idiots going fast when they can't see their own bow pulpit are nuts.
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:55 AM   #18
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When I was an ultralight pilot I flew frequently at odd numerical altitudes. Reduced the odds of a mid-air collision dramatically. Most pilots flew at 2500' or 3000' not at 2700.

I fly my boat up X channel, across Y Sound, around Z point ..........
I never use waypoints and rarely compass headings. The latter if visibility is weak. I keep my plotter on what's close in front and am aware of all navigational hazards I can see and what's shown on the plotter. I usually keep my I-pad on Navamatics for the "big picture" ahead, scouting for good anchorages and exploring via the app Navamatics.

Can't relate to knowing exactly where my boat will be at 22 minutes after ... .
It probably has much to do w my "P" type personality. P types like things undecided whereas "J" types like things decided. A date w a J type ... Tell her everything ... with a P type tell her only what's necessary and let those few details dribble out over time.

Too much planning complicates life especially when things don't go as planned. And the more you plan the more things are likely to not proceed according to plan. And of course too little planing can bring about lots of trouble and pain. But it's better for us P types and otherwise non-planners to err toward being a bit more of a planner and less desirable for planners to do less planning but since they already do too much perhaps it's a good idea too.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:03 PM   #19
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Federal Aviation Regulations

Home > Aviation Regulations > Parts Index > Part 91 > Sec. 91.159 - VFR cruising altitude or flight level.


Sec. 91.159 — VFR cruising altitude or flight level.

Except while holding in a holding pattern of 2 minutes or less, or while turning, each person operating an aircraft under VFR in level cruising flight more than 3,000 feet above the surface shall maintain the appropriate altitude or flight level prescribed below, unless otherwise authorized by ATC:

(a) When operating below 18,000 feet MSL and—
(1) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd thousand foot MSL altitude +500 feet (such as 3,500, 5,500, or 7,500); or
(2) On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even thousand foot MSL altitude +500 feet (such as 4,500, 6,500, or 8,500).
(b) When operating above 18,000 feet MSL, maintain the altitude or flight level assigned by ATC.

Boating has a few similar rules..and should be followed if you are serious.

Like airspace....there is uncontrolled airspace and just think of all the other knuckleheads out there with the same thoughts that are in an unregulated/uncontrolled space with no clue as to what they are doing.

That's why pros use controlled airspace and boating areas with rules and they follow the rules....using whatever electronics gives them the best chance of avoiding a collision.

Outguessing the rules puts you in as much danger as using that space and following them.

Sure there's exceptions to every rule...but in reality you are just tossing the dice either way.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:09 PM   #20
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What class do Ultralights operate in with regards to the FAA Psneed?
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