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Old 07-16-2014, 10:08 PM   #1
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Electronically Aided Collisions

Here is an interesting article regarding over reliance on boat electronics:

According to reports, this boat was traveling in the ICW under autopilot when it suddenly veered and slammed into the bank. Several people were injured, but none seriously. The incident underscores the need for caution when relying on electronics in close quarters and illustrates why a human needs to be vigilant at all times.

The rest of the article is here if you're interested in reading it:

Electronically Aided Collisions - Seaworthy Archives - BoatUS
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:13 PM   #2
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Dang! I guess a water-tight crash bulkhead wouldn't have done a lot of good on that one.
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:39 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. E. Good reminder. Thanks. I might also caution against being a "magenta line cruiser" ie: following the magenta line (ml) on your GPS chart as a set course rather than a suggestion. On several occasions, due to shoaling, a strict adherence to the ml would have put me hard aground. As mentioned, electronic gadgets are AIDS not replacements for awareness. Now about the v-berth accommodations in reference to the picture you posted....It's going to be a bit tight tonight.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:02 AM   #4
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good post, thanks. Plan to use the picture and story in this summers basic boating classes.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:21 AM   #5
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I would love to know the full story.

I have seen a lot of allisions with the bottom, bridges, buoys, jetties...even by faster boats than that.

The only time I have seen that kind of damage is in a high speed collision...or from secondary damage....such as the boat got hung up on rocks or pilings and the salvors were given permission to remove it the easy way or really screwed up.

That almost looks like a 90 degree, fast turn into a seawall....wow...that's may be the first time for that and see that kind of damage. Plus to catch it just right, below the pulpit and high enough it didn't ride up and over. Takes just the right combo to do that I would guess...

But as to the topic...yep...distracted driving is dangerous...but a little training and discipline lessens the dangers from overwhelming input or complacency.

Otherwise airliners would go back to a compass and strands of yarn on the nose in front of the windshield.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:36 AM   #6
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That is a great article. The pictured incident happened on the eastern portion of the Texas GICW as i faintly recall, about five or six years ago. There is a picture around of a boat punched perfectly through the center of the pulpit on a day marker used as a way point. Dang, those plotters can be so accurate just when you don't want them to be.... and put you right on shore when they aren't. While I do love my gadgets, computer, phone, plotter, auto-pilot... I still must rely on those that tell us about the world as it really is, binoculars, depth sounder, properly set up radar, validated compass, ears, eyes, even nose, and not totally trust any single one of those either if possible.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:51 AM   #7
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I can't imagine running much, if any, of the ICW under auto. There's just way too much variations from the computer charts to trust, and the traffic.

See the story titled "Ooops, Wanna bet?" The captain of the gambling ship stuck in the mud said it was a bad chart plotter that caused them to ground. Sounds like bad seamanship to me.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambler View Post
I can't imagine running much, if any, of the ICW under auto. There's just way too much variations from the computer charts to trust, and the traffic.

See the story titled "Ooops, Wanna bet?" The captain of the gambling ship stuck in the mud said it was a bad chart plotter that caused them to ground. Sounds like bad seamanship to me.
At 6.3 knots running much of the ICW on Auto is possible...obviously close to the wheel, head or remote.

I would sat on my trip to FLA last winter and back...with 400 or so hours underway...I bet I had less than 50 hours at the wheel. Probably most of the time near bridges or other congested areas. Granted I run in December/Jan and Mar/April so there's not much traffic...so stretches like the Alligator/Pungo Canal...I'll have it on auto and click the remote a degee or two everytime she wanders off every couple minutes or more.

At 6-8 knots..not big deal...at 20+ yeah it might become a handful except in all the large sounds which actually comprise quite a bit....definitely worth having an AP for.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
That is a great article. The pictured incident happened on the eastern portion of the Texas GICW as i faintly recall, about five or six years ago. There is a picture around of a boat punched perfectly through the center of the pulpit on a day marker used as a way point. Dang, those plotters can be so accurate just when you don't want them to be.... and put you right on shore when they aren't. While I do love my gadgets, computer, phone, plotter, auto-pilot... I still must rely on those that tell us about the world as it really is, binoculars, depth sounder, properly set up radar, validated compass, ears, eyes, even nose, and not totally trust any single one of those either if possible.
The go fast that almost became a catamaran I believe hit the mark right outside the Bay Bridge Marina at the foot of the Annapolis area Bay Bridge on the Chesapeake.

Now that was a good visual for my bating safety classes on several levels....

Amazingly...I think there were some broken bones but not much else in the way of serious injuries.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:22 AM   #10
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I think thats important to have GPS, autopilot, AIS, radar but nothing can change your mind and your eyes.


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Old 07-17-2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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Yep. I found there were a lot of stretches of both the AICW and GICW where the auto pilot was handy. I never used the link to the GPS though. More like as a power steering device where I could sit back in the helm seat, feet on the dash, remote in hand, dial-a-course. Love those remotes with a long cord, could step out on the side deck and watch the dolphins wake riding and still steer. Dodge function if necessary though not in a narrow channel. Been known to use my feet on the wheel spokes for the same purpose now and then. One of the main things I like about the auto pilot is that it allows me to keep a more thorough 360 degree watch.
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Old 07-17-2014, 01:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I would love to know the full story.

That almost looks like a 90 degree, fast turn into a seawall....wow...that's may be the first time for that and see that kind of damage.
We pulled out in the dark dawn last January and as we were going under a bridge I reached to the autopilot and tapped the button to engage it. It didn't engage so I hit it again. Next thing I know we're taking a 90 degree right turn towards a bridge abutment. (They look really big up close )

I immediately backed the throttle then shifted into reverse throttled up and got us stopped just in time. When assessing what went wrong I realized it was, as is often the case, operator error. I had missed the engage button and hit the u-turn button (for MOB) and then bypassed it's safety feature by hitting it again.

Lessons learned... pay extra attention when it is dark and we no longer ever engage the autopilot until we are clear of an obstruction.

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Old 07-17-2014, 05:27 PM   #13
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Did you trash ur underwear a few minutes later? Was it because of the hole you pinched or otherwise?
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Lessons learned... pay extra attention when it is dark and we no longer ever engage the autopilot until we are clear of an obstruction.

Dave
This is a good example of why I'm a member of this forum. Thanks to the message here, I may not have to learn the same lesson. Kicking back and using a remote was something I would have enjoyed greatly on wide, boring stretches of the ICW. I do find myself standing outside the pilothouse door, catching the wind with a coffee in hand when there's no traffic in broad stretches.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:30 PM   #15
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I think this blaming of electronics is foolish.

If you lashed a rope around the boats wheel and went below to do something and the boat ran aground, would you blame the rope or the captain? The captain, of course.

And if you gave someone a hand held compass to sight bearings and they ran aground, would you blame the compass or the captain? The captain, of course.

And if you gave someone a GPS to more accurately locate themselves than they could with their sextant or sighting compass, and they ran aground, who would you blame, the GPS or the captain? Apparently the GPS?

And if you display a chart on a computer screen instead of a sheet of paper, and the ship runs aground, do you blame the computer screen display or the captain? Apparently the computer display?
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:44 PM   #16
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Nothing beats maintaining a proper lookout. Recent sign displayed at highway roadworks here:
"Ignore GPS, Follow Signs"
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by healhustler View Post
This is a good example of why I'm a member of this forum. Thanks to the message here, I may not have to learn the same lesson. Kicking back and using a remote was something I would have enjoyed greatly on wide, boring stretches of the ICW. I do find myself standing outside the pilothouse door, catching the wind with a coffee in hand when there's no traffic in broad stretches.
I don't think I understood what you learnt.

Quote:
Kicking back and using a remote was something I would have enjoyed greatly on wide, boring stretches of the ICW.
Why wouldn't you still?
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:17 PM   #18
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While there are some parts of the AICW where an autopilot connected to a chart plotter might be OK (assuming you're still keeping watch and able to take manual control within seconds), there are other parts where the autopilot would have you cruising on land.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:40 PM   #19
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I learned nav without anything electronic but a rudimentry LORAN. Have since upgraded to semi modern electronics, but still go "old skool" occassionally to keep the skills up.

Around here, the modern stuff is often referred to as "Cartoons". As in, drive the boat, don't fiddle with the cartoons!!!

I use AP in the ditch all the time, except around bridges,narrow channels and congestion. Bridges can have a mag field deflection that sends boat in a turn right under the bridge. Bad juju there!! No AP under bridge or tight confines!!!

I also just run the AP in auto, no nav, as a gps glitch is more common than an AP glitch, and either can cause a sudden turn. In "auto", most of those glitches (gps) are gone.

Inlets with a strong flood going across can surprise a cap and an AP. There is a dock right near me (Mason's Inlet) that has been wiped out at least three times by big boats getting slid sideways by the flood. Once by a big steel shrimper. He just backed out of it and kept going...

I've screwed up a few times, nothing horrible but dang did I learn some lessons.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:08 PM   #20
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Electronically Aided Collisions

Today we ran for 5 hours on a single bearing across Lake Erie from Cleveland to Kelly's Island. There were other times today that auto was engaged but we adjusted as needed. In smaller bodies of water I don't run my auto pilot besides for whatever reason it doesn't like holding a heading in narrow waterways like the ICW.

I remember last Fall a boat following us up the TN River into a lock and they had the auto pilot on and it veered 90 degrees and wouldn't change until the operator cut the breaker and it freed up.

Like any electrical item beware of potential issues in narrow bodies of water.

That said I love my autopilot and in following seas like the other day you can hear the pump wirring away as it tries to maintain a heading.

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