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Old 22 August 2012, 04:10   #1
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Confessional

Well we got it wrong last night and I am sharing this *in case it help others from making the same mistakes.
The boat is an 8.5 m Humber with Volvo inboard and outdrive leg.
After a long day doing rescue boat duties at Chichester harbour Federation week we accepted a last minute invitation to a BBQ at Hayling . We should have returned to Portsmouth after racing in daylight .
We set off from HISC club at about 2130 in darkness and with a rising tide and a ssw wind about f3 . As we passed the lifeboat station *as they were recovering the D class after a launch .
*We left the harbour and crossed the bar before turning soutwest towards the cardinal marking the bottom end of the Winner bank off the Langstone entrance. The sea was quite bumpy and we make between 12 and 15 kn . I was conscious all the time about the scattering of lobster pots *in the area but it was difficult to see in all the wave clutter. Making good progress and about 600 metres from the cardinal we came to a sudden stop the engine stalled and the boat swung stern to the waves . I assumed we had snagged a pot and went astern and then forwards the boat seemed to move a bit and then stopped again . I trimmed the leg up and attempted to find the line and cut it only to get a handful of sand! We had clearly run aground on the tail end of the Winner . After a minute or two of deliberation my wife and I *decided that we needed help . *I made a Pan Pan to Solent CG who responded at once and we discussed our situation with them.The waves seemed to have grown a bit by now and were breaking over the side and transom. Although *the bilge pumps were doing the job it was not very nice feeling getting big dollops of sea water into the boat.I had had a few mouthfulls too whilst trying to find the line which did not help.Solent CG advised us that Hayling lifeboat had responded to our Pan Pan and was already launched and on its way.*
Whilst *we waited for the lifeboat to arrive Solent kept in touch with us and took more details such as boat size and whether we had nav lights on and were we wearing lifejackets , they also asked us for gps position which presented us with a small problem , we both wear reading glasses and had too root around to find a pair in the dark . Glasses *located we passed our *and that *was copied by Hayling LB. We could see the LB but they were having trouble seeing us against the lights of Portsmouth and Ryde. Eventually they spotted us and approached us ,one of the crew got into the water and waded over to us ,by this time the tide had risen sufficiently for the boat to start moving but we were being pushed further onto the bank rather than into deeper water . The LB crew walked us towards the deeper water and we got the leg down and engine started and followed the LB away from the bank . They continued with us until we were happy there was no damage to the leg and prop and then *left us to continue on to Camber .

Lessons learnt
However well you think you know a route preplan and do a passage plan or input a route in GPS . We have done the trip so many times in daylight and darkness. Believe your GPS not your instinct or gut feeling.
Have *a really good powerful torch or better a strobe to indicate your position if needed. An LED does not carry a beam like a proper torch.
If you need glasses have pair to hand and make your lat . Lon readout big enough to read without glasses.
A hand bearing compass would have let us give a bearing to the LB .*
Make your pan pan call at once , we did this and felt it was the right thing we were not alone and this helped.You can always downgrade or cancel.
Have your all round white light high or forward of your instruments so it does not reflect on the GPS screen . In our case get rid of the tinted windscreen which makes it harder to see at night ,we may have picked up the breaking water sooner and avoided it.
Give all banks *much wider room *than is shown on charts they are moving all the time .The D class LB had earlier hit one that was not charted .
Do contact CG on 67 after the safe return to advise arrival and of course thank them.
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Old 22 August 2012, 04:21   #2
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Hi Lurcher

As they say, "he who has never made a f*ck-up has never made anything". :-)

Glad it ended safely for you guys.

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Old 22 August 2012, 04:28   #3
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I think you did a excellent job at a stressful time and just shows how we all must keep our wits about us when making a journey and well done for sharing this with us. Have you got a depth finder? I only ask because I had a close call a couple of weeks ago off Hill Head an area which I'm familiar with but my depth finder's playing up and didn't see the shallows coming.
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Old 22 August 2012, 04:36   #4
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Top man for sharing that with us.

Salutary lesson for us all - especially making the "call"

A token of appreciation to the Lifeboat crew will make their day
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Old 22 August 2012, 04:54   #5
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Glad it ended safely for you.

Shows the benefit of having a VHF on board, not relying on mobile phones like many do these days.
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Old 22 August 2012, 05:50   #6
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Well done for airing your experiences, and making that difficult call early on whilst difficult was for sure correct.

Glad your all safe and hope the BBQ was good, at least you had something to talk about!
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Old 22 August 2012, 06:35   #7
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thanks for all the info and the lessons to remember.

In Belgium waters it is obligatory to have an torch aboard!!! about LED, i have a led one and it is unbelievable small yet very powerful. Name Led Lenser T7 model (sorry for the publicity)

and I did listen very well to the advice Paul Lemmer gave me once: NO tinted screen so i have a clear one and it is good in all circumstances and glad to have it after reading this story.

And yes I always carry a fixed and a handheld VHF. I even consider to switch to the new Icom handheld that offers lat and lon coordinates.

nevertheless i do hope never to get into that situation!!!!!!
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Old 22 August 2012, 07:15   #8
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Nice one John, thanks for sharing and glad you and SWMBO are ok!

Sounds like you took the right decisions in a timely manner when it became clear you needed help! No shame there at all!
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Old 22 August 2012, 07:42   #9
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Thanks for sharing. Glad it all ended safely for you both.

Not so sure about the "always believe your GPS" comment. Unfortunately there will always be times when the technology lets us down right when we need it the most (been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

At the end of the day there is no replacement for having paper charts and a hand bearing compass onboard, and arming yourself with a sound understanding of navigation.
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Old 22 August 2012, 07:42   #10
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Itís good to share John.

Glad youíre both OK, it could have been a lot worse.

You say the lifeboat crew Ďwalked you outí, which must have been fun for them with your great big boat bumping around in a chop

Iíve only ever done a couple of night passages, and itís not something Iím confident doing, so would appreciate the experience as crew if anyone is planning a trip.

Nasher.
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Old 22 August 2012, 09:54   #11
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Hi John,

glad you made it back safely!

Have just taken your boat out and glad to report there is no damage to leg, hull props, etc. In fact your props look very clean - just like they've been sand blasted!!!!
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Old 22 August 2012, 10:15   #12
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Thanks for sharing the lessons learned :thumbs and glad it worked out.
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Old 22 August 2012, 11:02   #13
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Well thanks for all the positive replies , still very pee'd off about making such mess.
Nasher glad to have you along any time but with my record are you sure?
I better do another night passage soon .
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Old 22 August 2012, 11:41   #14
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good all ended well, did you have DSC radio , if you had you could have used it to send and urgency call, or at worse a DSC Distress RED button.

This would send your GPS position.

If I was stranded on a sand bank I might have pressed the red button, ESP with breakers over the boat.

but hindsight is 20:20 , and time to think what what I do.

regards
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Old 22 August 2012, 12:04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonny2488 View Post
Thanks for sharing. Glad it all ended safely for you both.

Not so sure about the "always believe your GPS" comment. Unfortunately there will always be times when the technology lets us down right when we need it the most (been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

At the end of the day there is no replacement for having paper charts and a hand bearing compass onboard, and arming yourself with a sound understanding of navigation.
you do realise compass and chart are not infallable either... compasses can get magnetic errors, users can mis-identify the point of reference, or plot it wrongly on the chart, and charts can be out of date etc.
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Old 22 August 2012, 12:08   #16
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good all ended well, did you have DSC radio , if you had you could have used it to send and urgency call, or at worse a DSC Distress RED button.

This would send your GPS position.

If I was stranded on a sand bank I might have pressed the red button, ESP with breakers over the boat.

but hindsight is 20:20 , and time to think what what I do.

regards
I do have dsc fitted and specifically asked CG if they would like me to do as you say ,they said no so I assume they have thier reasons .
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Old 23 August 2012, 02:41   #17
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you do realise compass and chart are not infallable either... compasses can get magnetic errors, users can mis-identify the point of reference, or plot it wrongly on the chart, and charts can be out of date etc.
You have far more control over the accuracy of your navigation equipment than you ever will over the reliability of your GPS.

1. Go out and test/establish the magnetic effect the boat has on your compass before any night passage so you're aware of it.

2. Learn how to navigate properly to minimise user error when it comes to identifying objects/marks/points of reference. Believe it or not, it's quite a good system.

3. Just make sure you have up to date charts onboard - not difficult.

At the end of the day I'd trust my own navigation skills over any gps unit.

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Old 23 August 2012, 03:44   #18
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You have far more control over the accuracy of your navigation equipment than you ever will over the reliability of your GPS.

1. Go out and test/establish the magnetic effect the boat has on your compass before any night passage so you're aware of it.

2. Learn how to navigate properly to minimise user error when it comes to identifying objects/marks/points of reference. Believe it or not, it's quite a good system.

3. Just make sure you have up to date charts onboard - not difficult.

At the end of the day I'd trust my own navigation skills over any gps unit.

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I would tend to disagree with some of these points TBH...

Magnetic error on a compass fitted to a fiberglass boat with only the engine and nearby electronic equipment for it to be affected by is of minimal consequence when navigating in local waters.
I would be concerned if i was crossing the channel using only the compass as the small error would lead to a potentially large deviation. But who crosses the channel these days using only a compass?


In 20+ years at sea so far i have rarely seen a GPS unit read incorrectly...i have however seen the readings misinterpreted which is something completely different though.
Since our dear friends across the water removed the 'selective aquisition error', GPS signals have been very accurate indeed so much so that commercial shipping is now gradually switching over to full electronic charts (ECDIS). No paper charts at all are kept on many large commercial vessels relying purely on electronic navigation equipment GPS/DGPS, Gyro, etc...

Trusting your own navigation skills over modern electronic equipment i feel is foolhardy, if anything they should complement each other. There is nothing wrong with using chartplotters and other GPS equipment. I wonder how many groundings have been avoided since the cost of chartplotters have dropped over the last 10 years or so? Even the most inexperienced sailor can zoom in on a chartplotter and steer a course out of harms way. All it really takes is a good basic knowledge of tides and what the different colors/shading on the plotter represent and they should be OK for local cruising.
You say to keep up to date charts on board? OK, but would you be able to plot a position on these charts, at night time, without using a GPS LAT/LONG readout? At best you would come up with a "I'm somewhere around here" fix.
Its true that experience counts for an awful lot but learning to navigate 'properly' ('safely') takes a long time but even the most experienced of sailors will still use electronic aids to help them on their way.


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Old 23 August 2012, 03:46   #19
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You have far more control over the accuracy of your navigation equipment than you ever will over the reliability of your GPS.
Johnny I'm not suggesting for a minute that any one system is better than the other in all situations or that either system isn't much better if applied with a significant dose of scepticism and "Can that be right" when you look at the 'result'.

Quote:
1. Go out and test/establish the magnetic effect the boat has on your compass before any night passage so you're aware of it.
That assumes that (i) you know if anything changes. You find any/all artefacts (e.g. does the compass vary when the radio receives), that you remember in the heat of the moment and the dark to account for anything you find. Whilst electronic devices can fail, human beings do so much more often and less predictably. You are clearly the special type of person who never makes a mistake.
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2. Learn how to navigate properly to minimise user error when it comes to identifying objects/marks/points of reference. Believe it or not, it's quite a good system.
of course it is a good system. of course the more you do it the better you get, but it doesn't eliminate the possibility that you mis identify the mark (or can't find it), or mistransfer the information to the chart (especially on an open boat rather than the comfort of a chart table).
Quote:
3. Just make sure you have up to date charts onboard - not difficult.
oh really! So sandbanks never move or when they do the admiralty instantly gets updates out instantly? My usual cruising waters haven't been surveyed for over 100 years. Obviously the same issues apply to electronic charts, but you appear to have an undue faith in paper navigation as though it will be 'more correct'. I assume you've never had a chart blow away?

Quote:
At the end of the day I'd trust my own navigation skills over any gps unit.
Interesting - so if you plotted a point and it put you 1 mile out from the gps location you would assume your results are correct (and the GPS has suddenly developed a random malfunction) or you would go back and check your plotting and bearings? Personally even if after checking a hand plotted position I was that far off the GPS (and in any area where it mattered) I'd be proceeding with extreme caution as the likelihood of human error is far greater than the GPS getting an error that causes a positional error (which it doesn't report or 'trap') - its much more likely that your GPS just stops working than gives you massive position errors without warning.
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Old 23 August 2012, 04:03   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonny2488 View Post
You have far more control over the accuracy of your navigation equipment than you ever will over the reliability of your GPS.

1. Go out and test/establish the magnetic effect the boat has on your compass before any night passage so you're aware of it.

2. Learn how to navigate properly to minimise user error when it comes to identifying objects/marks/points of reference. Believe it or not, it's quite a good system.

3. Just make sure you have up to date charts onboard - not difficult.

At the end of the day I'd trust my own navigation skills over any gps unit.

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Navigation is an art, and not a science, however from my experience the best navigators have very good "situational awareness", which means you know where you are, and all the inputs from all sources, GPS, visual, and sounder are all agreeing.

It is quite easy to loose situational awareness, and then you start making assumptions, and making the "evidence" fit to what you think you know.

One of the easiest ways to loose sit awareness is to be concentrating on one thing, and you exclude other things, such as focussing on avoiding pots, and not identifying a nav mark correctly.

It has happened to me a few years ago as a junior officer, I was focussed on fixing my position, and did not notice the ship that was on a collision course!

It is taught in a lot of bridge team management courses, and the only real way to deal with it is to know it can happen, and to question all of the sources of information.

I do rely on visual navigation, and knowing where I am, but this must be backed up and confirmed by GPS, as well as sounder data etc.

GPS can, and does give wrong readings, and charts can be wrong, as well as electronic charts also! combine all your skills, and make sure they all agree!

If not, stop, and sort it out.
Gary
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