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Old 10-27-2014, 07:44 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by Barpilot View Post
So then you just plot a course on your chartplotter and interface to your autopilot?
no..read closer....

post #73 in particular
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:45 PM   #82
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My statement about the Napa River wasn't addressed to you. It was addressed to Mark Pierce. Being from the City, I have a few thousand hours on the Bay and its tributaries in addition to a like amount of the ICW.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:06 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
probably thought a sextant was cheating too....

plus my statements are about the AICW...not the Napa....
If you've been on the Georgia ICW than you've been on the Napa and then some... plus about 150 miles.

The AICW is the California Delta, Petaluma "River"(it is actually a short tidal slough) and Napa River on steroids. If you love and know how to navigate one then you'll love and know how to navigate the other. Delta dogs who die and think they have gone to heaven are actually on the ICW.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:13 PM   #84
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No plotting. Use AP buttons for one-degree or ten-degrees adjustments at a time.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:17 PM   #85
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We have gone through Georgia so many times (and hate every mile of it) that we now go outside, weather permitting. I've never seen so many switchbacks in all my life.
I may be wrong, but I don't think that the Napa and Petaluma are technically part of the "Delta" area. I would think that that would begin about Benicia going east, north and south. But then, I haven't lived in California for many years.
I forgot to mention, we used Oriental and New Bern as our base of operations while we cruised the east coast from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas for 5 years. So, yes, we are quite familiar with the ICW.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:26 PM   #86
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Curently working in Brisbane, AU, on to Seoul at the end of the week. As stated previously we removed the autopilot from our boat when we got it for several reasons, and have not had any reason to install another one for several reasons.

In the islands in the PNW and on up the coast into BC, we find hand-steering anything but boring. We quite enjoy it, and we find that it does not limit keeping a lookout at all. Not at 8 knots.

I have nothing against autopilots-- we used one all the time when out fishing in Hawaii. But up here, we would be constantly making corrections to the autopilot to avoid stuff in the water, and most of the headings we hold we rarely hold for more than about 15 minutes given our always-changing course legs through the islands.

If we had one we'd use it, particulary on the few longer stretches like across Bellingham Bay (5 miles) or the Georgia Strait. But again, we'd be changing heading fairly frequently to avoid stuff in the water, so other than turning a knob instead of a wheel, it wouldn't be that different than hand steering.

We know a few people who have autopilots on their boats and they say they rarely use them other than across the few longer stretches of water they encounter. And.... like us at our helm, they are having to make frequent adjustments to avoid logs or eelgrass mats or whatever.

If we boated in more open waters with longer course legs and less debris in the water I know an autopilot would bring several benefits.

So I think its value is based primarily on where one boats, and the nature of the "terrain" in which one boats. They're certainly dirt simple to use. It's more a question of whether or not it adds a significant value to running the boat. For us, we don't think it would. But as I say, if we had one again on the boat we would most likely use it for those times when it would be useful. But those times are few and far enough between to keep one off our "to do" list.

So, as usual with most things having to do with boats, there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the value of an autopilot. For us, we'd rather put the cost in the fuel tanks.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:41 PM   #87
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Quote:
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Curently working in Brisbane, AU, on to Seoul at the end of the week. As stated previously we removed the autopilot from our boat when we got it for several reasons, and have not had any reason to install another one for several reasons.

In the islands in the PNW and on up the coast into BC, we find hand-steering anything but boring. We quite enjoy it, and we find that it does not limit keeping a lookout at all. Not at 8 knots.

I have nothing against autopilots-- we used one all the time when out fishing in Hawaii. But up here, we would be constantly making corrections to the autopilot to avoid stuff in the water, and most of the headings we hold we rarely hold for more than about 15 minutes given our always-changing course legs through the islands.

If we had one we'd use it, particulary on the few longer stretches like across Bellingham Bay (5 miles) or the Georgia Strait. But again, we'd be changing heading fairly frequently to avoid stuff in the water, so other than turning a knob instead of a wheel, it wouldn't be that different than hand steering.

We know a few people who have autopilots on their boats and they say they rarely use them other than across the few longer stretches of water they encounter. And.... like us at our helm, they are having to make frequent adjustments to avoid logs or eelgrass mats or whatever.

If we boated in more open waters with longer course legs and less debris in the water I know an autopilot would bring several benefits.

So I think its value is based primarily on where one boats, and the nature of the "terrain" in which one boats. They're certainly dirt simple to use. It's more a question of whether or not it adds a significant value to running the boat. For us, we don't think it would. But as I say, if we had one again on the boat we would most likely use it for those times when it would be useful. But those times are few and far enough between to keep one off our "to do" list.

So, as usual with most things having to do with boats, there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the value of an autopilot. For us, we'd rather put the cost in the fuel tanks.
Thus one of the biggest AP attributes....not much different...the big difference is no over steer and if your attention is snatched away for a few moments by ANYTHING...and if you know about how many degrees you needed to turn to be safe...that's where you will wind up instead of a turn that keeps on going.

again...not APs are not necessary...but properly used makes manning the helm much more precise and with less risk from a moments inattention...but again...only if you are at that level...

Not a personal statement of how Marin runs his boat...just using the post to point out a good point.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:53 PM   #88
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Due to the constricted SF Bay/Estuary and Delta waters, I'm frequently adjusting the AP's course. In its more open waters it's rare to go fifteen minutes without making an adjustment.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:05 PM   #89
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My AP is not interfaced to the chartplotter. KISS principle. Just use +1, +10, -1, -10 buttons as needed while monitoring the plotter and traffic. The first mate likes it and that suits me.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:08 PM   #90
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We always keep watch 24/7 although at night it's 2 hr shifts. But even with AP, radar and a watchman we still almost ran straight into a submarine coming out of Juan de Fuca. He was forced to submerge (better him than me!). It was a strange story but obviously my guy at the helm at the time was not paying attention.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:33 PM   #91
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New to the conversation, but our M.O. is to plot in a course on the chart plotter, link it to the autopilot, then sit back and watch out for boats or logs. The longest I am comfortable not watching what is going on is a function of the time of year. In the winter when we are the only boat out there, a couple of minutes. Summertime, less than a minute if that. The idea of hand steering is bizarre given the options. By pre-plotting a course, we avoid all obstacles, take the shortest route and in general I think have a safer passage. Why someone with an AP and a chartplotter would not do the same is hard for me to figure.

Were we navigating the ICW, the approach would be different. But we don't, so it isn't.
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:38 AM   #92
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Why someone with an AP and a chartplotter would not do the same is hard for me to figure.
Most of the most experienced, most knowledgeable boaters I've met in this area (PNW-BC-SE Alaska) did not or do not have or use an autopilot. And they would probably laugh at the notion that having and using an autopilot in these waters is "the only way to go." Or in some cases, even beneficial.

These are people with far, far more experience, some of it for fun, some of it for work, than just about anyone I'm aware of on this forum with the exception perhaps of psneeld.

Which only goes to show that what one boater may view as a necessity and the only smart way to do something may be viewed by another boater with equal or greater knowledge and experience as perhaps "nice but not necessary to have," or in some cases, not necessary at all.

None of these viewpoints are wrong. The only thing that matters is that the boater be comfortable, confident and safe with whatever manner they choose to operate their boat.

I would be far more willing to go on a boat with one of these folks who's been running this coast successfully for four or five decades without an autopilot -- in one case a fellow who does the entire Inside Passage still today with only a depth sounder, a compass, a vhf radio, and a full set of charts---than someone with every piece of marine electronics known to man but with but a fraction of the experience and skill set. Or worse, with the belief that having all the electronics makes up for the lack of experience or skills.

The fact a boater does not feel an autopilot is a necessity for how he or she uses their boat does not make them wrong or foolish or dangerous. It only means they don't feel an autopilot is necessary to the way they use their boat.

Eric Henning probably has more real-life, all-weather, all-season experience operating a boat in the waters from Puget Sound on up through SE Alaska than 99 percent of the PNW boaters on this forum. And so far as I know, and certainly with regards to Nomad Willie, he's done it all without an autopilot.

So does that mean he's been doing it wrong all these years? Not in my book. And if he decides to install an autopilot in Willie and start using it, well, that won't be wrong either.
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:39 AM   #93
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I hope you can understand that using an autopilot with other boats nearby is very dangerous. Using an autopilot on many portions of the AICW will have you grounded in no time. Using one in an area with crab or lobster pots will have your prop tangled in line pretty quickly.

Before you buy your boat, leave the dock and flip on the autopilot, I hope you will take the time to learn about boating and safe operation of your boat.
I'm pretty sure I know how to run a boat safely and what situations AP should be used in and when it shouldn't be used. Coming out of a marina..... Yea, it will be off. Cruising the Chesapeake Bay, it will be on.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:36 AM   #94
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I'm pretty sure I know how to run a boat safely and what situations AP should be used in and when it shouldn't be used. Coming out of a marina..... Yea, it will be off. Cruising the Chesapeake Bay, it will be on.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:17 AM   #95
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No plotting. Use AP buttons for one-degree or ten-degrees adjustments at a time.
+1

This is why this discussion goes back and forth, some of the dedicated AP users use the AP as a wheel which will hold the course steady for a minute or several minutes before the next adjustment. This gives us the time to look at charts, out the windshield, the gauges etc. Such use does not have the downside of a set and forget use of the AP.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:00 AM   #96
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I use the autopilot probably over 95% of the time on the ICW. Most of the time it's like having a helmsman. I tell it to steer this heading. Then I tell it to alter course so many degrees to port or starboard. There are places where the plotter is used to set a course such as Chesapeake Bay, larger bays and rivers of NC, SC, and GA, and lake Okeechobee, but most of the time it's just running a compass heading. Otto steers straighter than I do, and allows me to focus more on lookout duties and course plotting.

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Old 10-28-2014, 07:49 AM   #97
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Quote:
We have gone through Georgia so many times (and hate every mile of it) that we now go outside, weather permitting. I've never seen so many switchbacks in all my life.
I may be wrong, but I don't think that the Napa and Petaluma are technically part of the "Delta" area.
That's why I broke them out separately; however, navigation is the same in all.

We considered Georgia a destination and loved the back country gunkholing there. A couple times when time was an issue, we took all or part of the trip outside, almost always going outside from Thunderbolt to St. Catherines. Given all the usable inlets, you can combine both pursuits if you like. So it all depends on personal preference. After a couple trips, we avoided the North Carolina ICW from Beaufort to the SC line, but we really enjoyed the Waccamaw and thence through the SC and GA low country.
I was born and raised in the SF Bay Area, and my family goes back in NorCal to pre-Gold Rush, with members of my father's family being ranchers and farmers in the Delta even to this day, and a great grandfather involved in the construction of the Delta as we know it... let's just say it's very much in my blood. So when we got to SC and GA it was everything we loved about boating in the Delta and adjacent waters, and then some, with much more wilderness and exploration opportunities, and an ocean with great beaches very near at hand.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:55 AM   #98
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Steering Willy is easy and not "tedious" except in big following seas because she has a keel. And there's a large rudder and even more keel aft so directional stability is good. I don't know how it happens but directional INSTABILITY is high enough so quick and sharp turns are also possible. Dosn't seem possible but I'm sure the big rudder has a lot to do w it. After all it is a flexible extension of the keel (like a fish) and the propwash is redirected by it.

Re the AP with a boat that handles nice I tend to want to be more a part of it and experience all I can but w a boat that's a dog to steer I'd rather have an AP but the AP probably wouldn't like it either if it wasn't up to the job.

Also there are skippers that think it's better and more satisfying to run a perfectly straight course. It gives them pleasure. To me being a bit off course most of the time has no downside and running a perfectly straight line serves no desirable purpose. So what if I burn 5% more fuel. I used to have a boating buddy when I had the Albin. He went on a straight line from point A to point B .. almost always. He liked to run 6 knots and I ran my Albin 7.3 to 8.5 knots .. never 6. So we'd go "together" and I'd wander into this bay or to the other side of a channel or wherever else I felt like going. Sometimes it took him a minute to find me and at times I was glad he lost me. My point is that we all steer a course differently because our approach to going from point A to point B is mentally different.

Also there's the love of technology and new or modern things. Steering by hand was grandfathers way and many wouldn't be caught dead doing it for that reason. Same w synthetic oil ... why use that old stuff when there's something better. But one needs to buy into "new and modern is better" .. period. Leave the old stuff to old people and slow people.

And then there's the busy person that has lots of nav-aids, i-pads w lots of apps, tide tables, weather reports, engine status and people on board that need attention and can't be ignored just to steer the boat. Some people just haven't got time to steer. AP to the rescue. I'd rather enjoy the scenery and spend more time looking at the water ahead or the clouds and sky and hence the weather ahead the traffic and all else around me/us and how it's changing. Is the surface of the water on the horizon dark and well defined or does it blend w sky? Where'd that little blue troller go? Is that a ferry dead aft? ect ect. So one's style probably chooses wether or not to have AP and how we use it. When I had an AP I used it probably 60% to 25% of the time depending on the variables but Chris likes to steer so the need for AP is way low now for us.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:59 AM   #99
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I'm pretty sure I know how to run a boat safely and what situations AP should be used in and when it shouldn't be used. Coming out of a marina..... Yea, it will be off. Cruising the Chesapeake Bay, it will be on.
As I recall, it was in the Chesapeake Bay that the incident I mentioned above of a boat running on autopilot hit an anchored or drifting boat. Your autopilot doesn't know to avoid uncharted obstacles. Also, depending on the time of year and particular part of the Bay, the water can be full of crab pot floats and the crabbers tending to them.

If you want to use an autopilot and stay at the helm keeping watch, that would be fine. Leave to use the head or fix lunch? You're putting yourself and other boaters at risk.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:12 AM   #100
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Our previous boat did not have an autopilot and I never even thought of installing one. Our current boat has one and we use it 90% of the time. So I am wondering if all the naysayers actually have a perfectly functioning autopilot and just choose not to use it (which is fine) or don't even have one hence the perceived danger is purely theoretical. Kinda like those without flyingbridges not liking them.....
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