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Old 12-31-2018, 08:06 PM   #161
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If you knew as many Maine lobstermen as I do you'd realize that most of them are rude primarily because they're on the water every day and every day recreational boaters do something stupid. I ran ferries in Maine on and off for years and the best way to deal with lobsterboats is ignore them, most of them are very good seaman with years more experience than most rec. boaters ever get. I can't effectively address your difficulties with radar but from what you said it sounds to me like you could benefit from some training. As to the supposed Canadian trawlers with no one running them I doubt this very much, having operated large trawlers for many years only a fool leaves the wheelhouse unattended. I would guess that they may have had heir gear in the water and as such had the right of way. Some midwater trawlers tow at speeds far faster than bottom trawlers and may appear to not be fishing. As I stated elsewhere I take my seamanship skills very seriously and can say with some pride that in forty five years of running all kinds of boats from an outboard skiff to a 25o' factory trawler I've never been in a collision, run aground or most important I've never lost a crewmember. Trust me, I want you to be the best boat operator you can be as I'm out there too.
I give lobstermen some slack because of what they do, but I've seen complete idiocy from some of them too. They're just people after all.

You weren't there when the Canadian trawlers went by. Full speed, no gear in the water, did not have the right of way over a sailboat sailing. I don't know what they were doing, playing cards?

Some of you'all are acting like I've said radar is useless. Did not say that. Just said it isn't a magic wand. I've navigated for decades in fog without it, never hit anything either. A decade or so with it, still haven't hit anything. I already said upthread they are so cheap you might as well have one. And by all means practice or take a course. Better with it than without. But if you think it is showing the whole and complete picture, particularly in weather, you are sadly mistaken. As countless radar assisted collisions have proven.
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Old 12-31-2018, 08:11 PM   #162
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Al, Club Nautique in Alameda offers radar seminars on occasion and they are excellent. Also included in their advanced cruising classes, which when i took it included getting out of a harbor (in our case the interior of Pigeon Point) at night using only radar.
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Old 12-31-2018, 08:15 PM   #163
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A metal boat is most likely to return a strong radar reading.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:23 PM   #164
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Al, Club Nautique in Alameda offers radar seminars on occasion and they are excellent. Also included in their advanced cruising classes, which when i took it included getting out of a harbor (in our case the interior of Pigeon Point) at night using only radar.
Great to know, George! I'll look into it. Thanks!
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:21 AM   #165
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Not always Mark Pierce.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:42 AM   #166
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You're welcome Al, by the way I obviously meant Pillar Point, not Pigeon Point!

Let us know what they offer these days at CN, they can be a great resource though I recall if you're not a member the prices are higher. We belonged because we rented boats from them a lot when we lived out there last. They required the classes for various levels of boat and cruising grounds, and it was perhaps the best money I ever spent on boating as it turned us from sporadic day boaters into cruisers. Though we had boated for our whole life, and owned a 32' Tolly when we lived in Seattle, and had taken USCG Aux classes, was amazed at how much I didn't know what I didn't know. At the time they had a complete fleet of Mainships of all sizes and configurations. I believe the power boat fleet is greatly reduced these days. They are primarily a sailboat operation. We even kept the membership for awhile after we moved to Texas. For people looking into buying a boat in SFO who are still working, it is a great alternative.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:27 AM   #167
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Great discussion guys!

Best posts so far, #35 and #38.

I have had radar on my boats since 1988. I would never go back to being without it. I also agree with Mark that your eyes are your best resource. My Radar clocks the amount of time it has been turned on. On my boat, it shows me how many hours I have navigated from my lower helm since installing that set. I don't often leave it turned on while I am operating from the upper helm, as I can't see its display while up top.

In training on the RCMSAR rescue boat, I have learned a lot more about the usefulness of Radar, and I would recommend anyone, even those with many years of Radar experience, to take some CG training to upgrade your skills with Radar (and other things too).

If you don't turn it on when visibility is good, you can't see everything it is telling you when visibility is poor.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:24 PM   #168
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Last Spring I was moving the boat to a new port on Lake Michigan. I was single handing the boat. Daylight. The entry to the small lake off of Lake Michigan is via a long rock jetty that juts out into the big lake. A small light structure sits on the end of the southernmost rock wall. The top is about 40-50 feet off the water. A dense fog bank lay along the shore. The boat has a good chart plotter (no radar) on the fly bridge, and a radar display (plus an old first generation gps) at the lower helm. I elected to make the very low vis approach to the jetty from the flybridge. The "go to" waypoint was set at the middle of channel and just short of abeam the light on the rock wall. I creeped up on the waypoint on one engine...bumping it in and out of gear to maintain rudder effectiveness. Visibility kept dropping. Discretion being the better part of valor, I slammed both transmissions into reverse when I arrived at the waypoint with no visual cues. The boat slewed slightly to the right and I caught glimpse of the very top of the light structure about 20 feet off t he starboard bow. Very scary moment. I should have used the radar...or waited until the fog lifted. That said, I've departed at night with waves of fog rolling in off Lake Michigan...decent visibility leaving the slip...crap by the time I got to the opening of the channel. Radar got me safely out of the harbor. Guess I could wait for a better day/night...but fog goes with low winds and calm seas on the big Lake...a good thing if you're making a crossing. Radar is the great equalizer...even an old clunker like the one on our boat.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:38 PM   #169
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1. What you see out the window
2. What the radar shows
3. What the chart shows.

Scale is set at 1/2 mile. Most of the charted land is under water with only some very faint grass showing.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:42 PM   #170
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I found charts to be pretty useless for most of my trip. The USACE does a great job with marker buoys and they were my most relied upon reference. I paid close attention to how the water appeared, referenced charts, and sonar data (cloud sourced). I also read up on tricky parts of the trip and looked at community info to see people's comments who recently passed through a particular area. I was lucky to only have a 3.5' draft. I saw 2' of water under my boat in a few spots. Some areas needed dredging and were only passable during high tide. Sailboats and deeper draft boats have it the worst.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:46 PM   #171
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Radar will not tell lies like GPS or AIS. One must use everything available but when it comes to the crunch radar is my go to.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:48 PM   #172
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Radar will not tell lies like GPS or AIS. One must use everything available but when it comes to the crunch radar is my go to.
Great comment!
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:48 PM   #173
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Equipment failure is part of my issue with over-reliance on electronics. Failures seem to happen at the worst possible times. If you read transportation investigations they lay out sequences and combinations of events leading to a crisis. Usually it's simple: you just step off the deck, or dock, and drown. Other times it's a combination of you're late, take a chance with the weather, and you end up fatigued, hungry, wet, cold and wondering if you are going to make it. Then the electronics fail and your boat breaks-up on the rocks. Happy New Year, be safe.


Always ask yourself "What if?" and be ready to use the most basic means to save yourself and your crew.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:07 PM   #174
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Radar may not tell lies but in areas or inlets with few features nearby and small plastic bouys hidden by sea clutter ( with little time to plot Radar bearings due to current, etc) I would trust my plotter until the Radar proved otherwise.

So instead of thinking one is better than the other, which is infinitely debatable, one without the backup of the other puts you back in the early days of electronics or fiurther if either isn't working or being interpreted as designed.

My main explanation for suggesting plotters higher in need is the average boater seems to "get" it long before Radar. The percentages go with plotters for safe navigation. Pros may always see it differently.

Equipment failure underway is extremely rare, but can happen, al the more reason for backups or a crossover tool like radar for lottery or vice versa.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:24 PM   #175
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Equipment failure is part of my issue with over-reliance on electronics. Failures seem to happen at the worst possible times. If you read transportation investigations they lay out sequences and combinations of events leading to a crisis. Usually it's simple: you just step off the deck, or dock, and drown. Other times it's a combination of you're late, take a chance with the weather, and you end up fatigued, hungry, wet, cold and wondering if you are going to make it. Then the electronics fail and your boat breaks-up on the rocks. Happy New Year, be safe.


Always ask yourself "What if?" and be ready to use the most basic means to save yourself and your crew.
Excellent post. That's one of the reasons I liked keeping a "visual log" on a paper chart, regularly penciling in time, position, rpm, speed and course. On rivers and channels, checking off the ATONs as we passed them in lieu of course.

Did have a lot of redundancy on the electronics but you never know. Plus I like to play a game of turning off the plotter screen for awhile then checking my calculated position against it.

And when all else fails, barring conditions that absolutely prohibit it, stop the boat.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:35 PM   #176
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Radar may not tell lies (or rarely), but may not tell the whole truth either. The old adage, "never depend on a single source of navigational data" applies as well to radar.

In poor visibility I'll have raster charts (paper copy), vector charts, GPS position, AIS, radar, and eyeballs all running. Where they all agree I'm pretty comfortable. The more interesting situations are when they don't agree.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:41 PM   #177
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Radar may not tell lies (or rarely), but may not tell the whole truth either. The old adage, "never depend on a single source of navigational data" applies as well to radar.

In poor visibility I'll have raster charts (paper copy), vector charts, GPS position, AIS, radar, and eyeballs all running. Where they all agree I'm pretty comfortable. The more interesting situations are when they don't agree.


Radar is just one of many essential arrows in the fog-navigation quiver. It's best to use ALL the tools you have at your disposal to complete the task safely...and as they recommend in aviation, keep your head on a swivel. Look around and cross-check for disagreement between independent sources of info.
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Old 01-01-2019, 02:10 PM   #178
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Equipment failure is part of my issue with over-reliance on electronics. .
Redundancy.
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Old 01-01-2019, 02:24 PM   #179
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Equipment failure is part of my issue with over-reliance on electronics. Failures seem to happen at the worst possible times. If you read transportation investigations they lay out sequences and combinations of events leading to a crisis. Usually it's simple: you just step off the deck, or dock, and drown. Other times it's a combination of you're late, take a chance with the weather, and you end up fatigued, hungry, wet, cold and wondering if you are going to make it. Then the electronics fail and your boat breaks-up on the rocks. Happy New Year, be safe.


Always ask yourself "What if?" and be ready to use the most basic means to save yourself and your crew.
I would think everyone that intends to go very far on a boat would want to have a good grasp of basic piloting skills. Electronics are a tool but that tool sometimes ends up being a crutch.
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Old 01-04-2019, 02:02 PM   #180
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I've heard commercial captains make that comment many times, including the one who trained me. A compass and a radar - two very important nav tools.
I got my first RADAR 2 years ago. Now I don't know how I lived without it.

Without a RADAR late night, and pea soup fog is very scary, and dangerous. It is very comforting to see the little yellow blips of the other ships, and the squiggly lines of the shore, and bridges, and rocks.

AIS is also useful as you see the names, call signs of commercial vessels often when they are far out of range, and behind obstruction's that even RADAR can't see. Being able to call them around a corner on ICW or behind a bridge, and have them keep an eye out for you, also very helpful.
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