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Old 10-29-2014, 10:37 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by Marin View Post
I asked him about the chair. It's not a "lawn chair." It's a purpose-built helm seat, made beautifully of teak. He found it in a marine store in La Conner many years ago. It was not cheap, he said, but he really liked the height and its sturdy construction .
Some years ago we were in La Conner and noticed some sturdy and gorgeous "director's" folding chairs made by a local craftsman. Last month we were in La Connor and searched high and low for these chairs. The local furniture makers said the shop that sold them went out of business and the owner moved. The builder of the chairs was a mystery but one fellow said he could make us two for about $700 each.

So our quest continues with eyes on the only way we'll buy them as catalogues and pictures can't tell the full story as to build quality. Of course during rough weather well fold them up so they don't go flying about.

Now, has anyone read the OP's question lately? Why the tip toeing around nobody on watch as the helmsman sleeps? Not taking a leak or fixing a tuna sandwich but sound asleep.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:57 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by sunchaser View Post
Some years ago we were in La Conner and noticed some sturdy and gorgeous "director's" folding chairs made by a local craftsman. Last month we were in La Connor and searched high and low for these chairs. The local furniture makers said the shop that sold them went out of business and the owner moved. The builder of the chairs was a mystery but one fellow said he could make us two for about $700 each.

So our quest continues with eyes on the only way we'll buy them as catalogues and pictures can't tell the full story as to build quality. Of course during rough weather well fold them up so they don't go flying about.

Now, has anyone read the OP's question lately? Why the tip toeing around nobody on watch as the helmsman sleeps? Not taking a leak or fixing a tuna sandwich but sound asleep.
Offshore without a vessel in sight for days at a time, I would set my alarm watch to wake me up every 15 minutes. I would get up, check the horizon, the radar and go back to sleep for another 12 minutes. I chose 15 minutes because that was how long it would take a freighter moving at 18 knots to appear over the horizon with a mast height of 40'. Inshore, never. When vessels are routinely around, never. Daytime, never, although I will admit to being pretty relaxed, what with the autopilot doing the drone work and all.
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:17 PM   #183
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I have crossed the Pacific ocean, Gone the length of both coasts as far South as Panama... I always use the Auto Pilot.. 99% of the time.

I get up to use the head, make a sandwich, check the trolling meat line and will leave the boat unattended for short length's of time WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.
Is it bad seamanship?.. I do not think so.. WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.

I am able to move around the boat, look out the back, check the E.R., walk out to the bow.. all because Otto goes where I point him. I try to use all the tools available to me to have a safe voyage, not staring at a compass helps immensely when offshore without land to use as a reference.
The above has worked for me for the last 20,000 miles.

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Old 10-29-2014, 11:32 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I have crossed the Pacific ocean, Gone the length of both coasts as far South as Panama... I always use the Auto Pilot.. 99% of the time.

I get up to use the head, make a sandwich, check the trolling meat line and will leave the boat unattended for short length's of time WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.
Is it bad seamanship?.. I do not think so.. WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.

I am able to move around the boat, look out the back, check the E.R., walk out to the bow.. all because Otto goes where I point him. I try to use all the tools available to me to have a safe voyage, not staring at a compass helps immensely when offshore without land to use as a reference.
The above has worked for me for the last 20,000 miles.

HOLLYWOOD
In other words, you are just another toy boater crossing oceans.

And with an AP...
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:39 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I have crossed the Pacific ocean, Gone the length of both coasts as far South as Panama... I always use the Auto Pilot.. 99% of the time.

I get up to use the head, make a sandwich, check the trolling meat line and will leave the boat unattended for short length's of time WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.
Is it bad seamanship?.. I do not think so.. WHEN CONDITIONS PERMIT.

I am able to move around the boat, look out the back, check the E.R., walk out to the bow.. all because Otto goes where I point him. I try to use all the tools available to me to have a safe voyage, not staring at a compass helps immensely when offshore without land to use as a reference.
The above has worked for me for the last 20,000 miles.

HOLLYWOOD

20k nm is not enough!
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:54 PM   #186
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20k nm is not enough!
Without wanting to suggest that professional, big ship mariners are not incredibly well trained and competent, small boat voyaging is not something to denigrate by pretending that because they are not engaged in a commercial mission, the skippers are somehow less qualified. That, of course, is the intent of referring to them as "toy boat" operators. I would put the competency of the Hiscocks, the Roths or any of a great many pleasure cruisers up against any big ship commercial captain whose duties begin when a pilot leaves his ship and ends when the pilot takes over control to do the tricky bits of docking, etc. No doubt there are plenty of marginally competent small boat operators whose idea of a voyage is crossing Bellingham Bay, but there are quite a few of a different level of capability altogether, present company included.
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Old 10-30-2014, 02:51 AM   #187
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Hahaha!! If you think our duties end when a pilot shows up, you're sadly mistaken!
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:28 AM   #188
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Just don't tediously suggest that it somehow represents a mark of competence rather than an odd defense of not having a basic piece of safety equipment enjoyed and used by 99% of everyone who operates a boat - toy boat operators and commercial mariners included.
I think your 99 percent figure is way off the mark based on my observation. But regardless, it's obvious you feel that people who don't have or use an autopilot are less-than-competent boaters, and I think that is absolute BS.
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Old 10-30-2014, 06:53 AM   #189
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I think your 99 percent figure is way off the mark based on my observation. But regardless, it's obvious you feel that people who don't have or use an autopilot are less-than-competent boaters, and I think that is absolute BS.
Buggerit, I was trying to stay out of this, but I just can't. It's not often I agree 100% with Delfin, but this time I do. Marin, I think his 99% is conservative. I reckon if you asked 1000 boaties if they would rather have, or not have, an A/P all nicely installed and working, (have to stipulate that to be realistic because you took a working one out), then I would wager there would be 999 saying yes...& you.
But hey, that makes you unique - not incompetent, but unique, and that's gotta be worth something..?

All I know is I had an A/P I fitted to my yacht, and loved it. Here on Lotus I don't, and as most of our boating is in shoaling and narrow channels between a myriad of islands, we would not get to use one much, so I have not been able to justify the expense. But on the occasion when we get up into the open part of the bay, where one goes for 2 hours or more with no change of course needed, I sure wish I had one, and always will. Yet I also feel exactly like you and Eric, when it comes to what I enjoy about being out there. But when going straight at 7 knots for hours on end, a boat doesn't need to be driven.
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:39 AM   #190
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Once again it appears that the trawler world includes different boats and now different autopilots. Marin mentions the limitations of an autopilot (flat transom boat) when waves reach three to five feet. In Bay Pelican's world considers three to five feet is considered flat water in which you take the boat out for a Sunday drive. Set the autopilot and watch the scenery (and the gauges).

Things get hairy when the waves exceed 8 to 10 feet, then a good helmsman can make the ride more comfortable by carving the waves. Two clear downsides to the helmsman steering in these conditions, the course is no longer straight (evidence on the chartplotter) and the helmsman's arms ache. With Bay Pelican waves above 12 feet from most directions require hand steering or the boat is tossed around repeatedly. The weaklink becomes the helmsman. My arms cannot take this for more than a couple of hours.

My beliefs are:

1 An autopilot is a good tool to have on a boat. You must know when to use it and when not to use it.

2 For a boat with two people or fewer in the crew it is important to have an autopilot when traveling for more than 12 hours.

3 The skipper and crew must turn the autopilot off often enough that everyone knows how to steer the boat both by compass and chartplotter without reference to outside landmarks. Assume nighttime or fog.

4 It is valuable to have an autopilot if you must leave an anchorage in the dark or fog. It is difficult to steer a tight course without landmarks and pay attention to the possible obstacles.
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:55 AM   #191
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My Blue water voyaging has been under sail power.

In the bunk below the engine noise from the ships is easily heard , probably from 15 miles away. That gives about 1/2 hour to get out of the way.

Longer today with so much slow steaming.
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Old 10-30-2014, 09:28 AM   #192
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I have learned from this forum, confirmed some things and experimented other ways. My trawler track very well on its own, but if I use one hand on the wheel and use the binoculars I'm headed to were Im looking. My next heading change today is in 2 1/2 hours. I choose to use Otto and both hand on the binoculars.

When I'm not texting on reading this forum. Question is texting worst than talking to an Admrial about the color to paint the kitchen?
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Old 10-30-2014, 09:51 AM   #193
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I have learned from this forum, confirmed some things and experimented other ways. My trawler track very well on its own, but if I use one hand on the wheel and use the binoculars I'm headed to were Im looking. My next heading change today is in 2 1/2 hours. I choose to use Otto and both hand on the binoculars.

When I'm not texting on reading this forum. Question is texting worst than talking to an Admrial about the color to paint the kitchen?
A variant of the "moth effect" or "shoot where you look effect". (similar to but not exactly "target fixation")...you make good point

I often watched boaters I was instructing or just cruising with while headed parallel to a straight coastline will often keep steering towards it subconsciously.

A great use of the AP (after you learn about the visual phenomenon and can correct for it)...so if you are going to focus your attention to things off your route...the AP certainly an help an lessens your need to keep referencing the compass or plotter....an example of how an AP allows longer gazes at scenery and increases safety if veering off your track would have consequences.

To be fair....it's a real stretch to say any decent skipper would hit the beach with or without an AP....but reality is if your scan breaks down and you aren't well seasoned in not overcoming this phenomenon...your wake will be pretty wiggly....
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Old 10-30-2014, 10:12 AM   #194
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Hahaha!! If you think our duties end when a pilot shows up, you're sadly mistaken!
Certainly not duties or responsibilities, nor was it a comment on the extremely high level of competence required to do what you do in all weather. Rather an observation that most big ship captains don't dock their own boats because of pilotage rules, which is something toy boaters find themselves doing. Apples and oranges really, but my point - poorly made - is that I would expect that when you see some guy and his wife in a 50' boat in the middle of the ocean your first thought is not that they are just playing at being mariners, putting along in their toy boat.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:13 AM   #195
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Let me try to get back to the general subject of keeping a lookout, or watch, while also trying to address some apparent misconceptions or lack of knowledge about sea conditions in the real world. People who have not boated in these conditions, be it from lack of experience, or experience limited to a limited area, or being a protected-waters boater may learn something new. For the sake of both objectives, I'll try to keep it to following seas in particular, and flat transom recreational power boats in general.

An essential part of keeping a proper watch is observing sea conditions, and their affect on the boat, both for the situation at hand as well as adding to the knowledge base about how one's craft behaves in reaction to the sea. Over time, these basic facts will become very apparent to the experienced yachtsman:

1) Waves often do not have exactly the same period between them, even in a given set, virtually never among a group of sets. That is one reason why the forecasts refer to a "dominant period". Why this is I'll discuss shortly in tandem with some other factors and a rough illustration. The only way one can precisely anticipate a certain wave is to be looking backwards, not forwards. Much easier, theoretically, for our sailing brethren, with their helms at the back of the boat, than for those of us in pilothouses and on flying bridges.

2) Waves are not the same height or shape, again even in a set. (Let's remember we are in a moving boat). Height, shape and speed have varying affects on the boat, and often subtle changes can have quite a different and dramatic affect. Contributing factors include changes in the sea bottom depth and configuration, fetch, subtle variances in wind direction and gusting, and the changing influence of current. Crossing the Gulfstream is the classic example of current affects which arise and vary as you approach, then cross and exit it; inlets are another, as current velocity changes, the width and depth of the inlet changes, and exposure to the wind changes.

3) Waves often don't even come from the same direction, be it from a combination of the factors discussed above, leading to "confused" seas, or from base swells coming from different directions, a not infrequent condition on the Pacific on the West Coast.

4) And of course, our boat's course is not always perfectly aligned with the seas, so the boat is attacked from a variety of angles and a variety of time a particular wave is influencing various sections of the boat.

So as you can see, close observation of sea conditions around the boat, rather than making many assumptions about them, is critical to a happy cruise.

In this thread a lot of discussion has been on the subject of rudder control. In following seas, I assert that throttle control is even more important. Broaching is most often the result of improper speed and thus positioning relative to the waves. This is where an autopilot can come in in very handy, allowing the helmsperson to properly adjust the throttles and more closely observe sea conditions. And in return, the AP becomes even more effective as it reacts to less violent and changing conditions on the stern.

Here are just some random pics that illustrates some of my points. These seas are relatively mild, no more than three footers, but the kind of short and somewhat steep and confused variety that can really move around the kind of boat under discussion.



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Old 10-30-2014, 11:16 AM   #196
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But hey, that makes you unique - not incompetent, but unique, and that's gotta be worth something..?...But when going straight at 7 knots for hours on end, a boat doesn't need to be driven.
First, we don't go straight for hours on end. Where we boat we rarely go straight for even one hour, and most of the time we are making a major heading change every 15 or 20 minutes in the islands. And given the fair amount of debris in the waters here, using an autopilot would require turning the heading change knob as much as we turn the wheel. So pick your poison-- turn a wheel, turn a knob. Either way you've gotta be watching out in front of you and turning something.

Second, as usual, this discussion has reached the border of ludicrous. What started out as simply comments on when an autopilot is not particularly useful has deteriorated into assumptions that people like me are preaching that autopilots are bad things to have. That's assinine. I've already stated that if our boat had one, we'd use it when appropriate. Our boat doesn't have one, and given the kind of boating we do, we don't see a need to install one. Turn the knob or turn the wheel, and our boat already has a wheel.

The implication by a number of people in this "discussion" that if one doesn't have an autopilot they are less than competent boaters is what pisses me off. As stated, I've met skippers who, based on what I read on this forum, are FAR more competent boaters than some of the more insistent autopilot drum-beaters on this thread, yet horror of horrors, their boats don't have autopilots. So by Delfin's "rules" these guys are out of touch with reality and therefore cannot be considered "professional" because they don't have or use an autopilot.

What crap.

I have yet to hear any of the people I've met or know whose boats don't have autopilots, or that do but they choose not to use them, say they think autopilots are bad. Some are like me and Ron, whose boats don't have an autopilot, and given the way they operate their boat they don't feel it's usefulness warrants the cost of installing them. But by Delfin's "rules" folks like us are fools for not rushing out and buying one before the next time we leave our slips. Yes, Carl, I know you didn't write exactly that, but that is what all your posts on this subject imply.

Others have an autopilot but choose not to use it for whatever reason. But in the eyes of the rabbid pro-autopilot crowd here, they, too, are staggeringly incompetent and should get off the water while the getting is good.

So I'm curious.... The vast majority of the sailboats in our marina do not have self-steerers. The few owners I've met who do, or have done, long distance cruising do have self-steerers, and for good reason. But are all those other sailboaters, the ones who cruise the same islands I do, or who take their boats to SE Alaska and back, all under hand steering, automatically less than experienced, competent boaters because they don't have self-steerers (or autopilots)?

Judging by the ones I've met, there are a lot of really good, very experienced boaters in that crowd. I wonder what they'd say to Delfin's position that not having an autopilot or not using one if you do have one is an indication of a less-than-knowledgable or less competent skipper.

Sunchaser has several times tried to get this thread back on track and discuss the OP's original question. Seems like a good idea to me as it's pretty clear we have firmly established that anyone who doesn't have or use an autopilot is a fool. I'm thinking my wife and I should start boating at night to reduce the chances of encountering the rest of you and thus risking your lives since Delfin & Co. have finally convinced me that we are incompetent, ignorant, unskilled boat owners without a hope in hell of ever becoming what you all consider competent because our pathetic, piece of crap Grand Banks doesn't have an autopilot.

Peter-- Your city is pretty but it's way too hot. We're heading for a cooler land.

PS-- Delfin, our boat in Europe has an autopilot and we'll be using it when it makes sense to use it.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:19 AM   #197
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In other words, you are just another toy boater crossing oceans.

And with an AP...
Mr D.

At first I was peeved at the inference of the " toy boater" remark...

The Admiral questioned why I was in such a sour mood this am...

Showed her your post... she quickly produced a pic of me she took last year...

I guess I am guilty of being the aforementioned "toy boater"


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Old 10-30-2014, 11:28 AM   #198
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Another attribute not discussed is the amount of time an autopilot leaves your hands unattended so as to perfect that two under crown bell rope. My pilothouse looks like a macrame explosion happened. And monkey fists make great gifts. Thanks Otto!

Furthermore, for those who feel emasculated during autopilot use; I find a spray bottle of salt water (preferably real seawater) at the helm does wonders. A squirt in the face every half hour, keeps my face leathery and my language unintelligible.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:40 AM   #199
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So, my turn at this.

I have a flat bottom cruiser just like some here have mentioned.

100% of my boating in blue water, fully exposed to the pacific.

Sea conditions vary, but bouy measured 6 footers is pretty much the norm. 3' seas are pretty much flat to us.

What i have found is that my properly calibrated autopilot can and does react much faster than I can. It keeps on a better course, and helps minimize wave induced motion.

Allot of what I'm reading on this thread is clearly posted by sailors that either have non calibrated auto pilots, or are making assumptions about things they have never really experienced.

Oh, and keeping a constant watch...

I keep my boat safe. I also go into the galley and make a sandwich, or go to the head. That is neither unsafe, nor is it un captainlike. It is just the reality of how things work.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:01 PM   #200
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I think your 99 percent figure is way off the mark based on my observation. But regardless, it's obvious you feel that people who don't have or use an autopilot are less-than-competent boaters, and I think that is absolute BS.

+ one .. at least.

Marin and I don't have AP so that means it would take almost 100 of us to balance the numbers. Randomly chosen almost 100 of us would need to say they have AP. How many of us are there? It looks like the members w/o AP would fit in my living room and we have a small house. Way off the mark to be sure.
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