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Old 25 November 2003, 07:35   #1
Ade
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Day Skipper theory

I am currently sitting through night classes on Day Skipper theory.
Unfortunately, the instructor seems to believe that Powerboat and GPS are rude words.
Can ribs be driven to the accuracy of this theory?
I understand I need to know about navigation before venturing out but the course seems to be biased towards sailing.

Any advice?
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Old 25 November 2003, 07:57   #2
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I think it depends where you are sailing, tidal streams can be a few knots and whilst a gps will tell you if you are going in the right direction, it may not tell you the correct course to steer. This may not matter so much on short hops in good visibility, but if you cant see your destination you may end up steering a longer course using gps only.
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Old 25 November 2003, 07:59   #3
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Stick with it.

It's all useful info. In fact vital for offshore cruising, if only for when your lovely GPS with fancy chartplotter and lots of painstakingly entered waypoints packs up... like mine did!

Dayskipper Theory is also supposed to be a pre-requisite (or recommended) for the Advanced Powerboat course (IIRC he actual wording is a bit looser - before the powerboat instructors & trainers on the site shout at me!)
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Old 25 November 2003, 08:45   #4
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Ade, had exactly the same problem some years ago, even when I explained that aircraft navigate across the Atlantic with GPS.

Who cares about compass deviation when your doing 25 knots though scary seas and the bloody thing is swinging through 30 degrees.

However as Richard says the background knowledge is what your after. ITs hard going torugh the depths of winter but stick with it.

"Can GPS be driven to this accuracy" Absolutely when GPSs first appeared we used to practise navigating back to small pot markers with it, now with SA removed the accuracy is very good. Indeed perhaps too good since charts are actually only a drawing of what someone saw once apon a time and in more remote areas that can be with a lead line. Ask your instructor what accuracy a chart is drawn to and have a healthy disregard for anyone who suggest less than 100 yards.

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Old 25 November 2003, 08:51   #5
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...and the compass is a lot easier to use, even if it's swinging around a bit, when you're falling into a hole that you didn't see coming 'cos you were trying to use the little buttons on the GPS (which looked a lot bigger in the shop!)
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Old 25 November 2003, 11:34   #6
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The words stick with it are paramount.

The UK is unusual in that you can take charge of a vessel with no training or qualifications with occasional dire consequences for the operator and those around him/her.

Your trainer is quite correct in his attitude as

1. A GPS is an aid to navigation and must never, due to equipment or knowledge availability be relied upon as the main source of data.
2.Whilst your interest is powerboats your trainer must assume that you may use or come into contact with other types of vessels. Coming into contact is important becouse you must be aware of their limitations and anticipate their moves in safe boating.

I had the same dilemas as you many years ago when I went from working of fishing vesels to Uiversity to study various martime degrees Ithought it a waste of time with all the bits of theory for my intented application. Looking back I am extremely grateful for all those snippets of info and never forgeting that anybody can steer a boat, but a good skipper has to be aware of everything in his environ - as I preach to my skippers at sea a skipper can even bury and mary ! Stick with it and when you learn the art of good coastal navigation and can demonstrate that to others you will start to enjoy. Now celestial navigation .... leave that one alone for the purists !!

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Old 25 November 2003, 11:48   #7
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I appreciate the comments about GPS. I have been using a little compass to navigate round mountains for years and wouldn't suggest that anyone venturing into the hills shouldn't know how to use one but..
I have used GPS to navigate in the hills in bad weather and the usefulness cannot be denied.I think it is shortsighted to exclude their use completely.
I only have a small handheld GPS which I probably wont use in the boat
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Old 25 November 2003, 13:16   #8
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Ade

The problem that you mention is a common one on Dayskipper Theory courses. That said in a couple of ways steps have been taken to address the issue both of poor instruction and of a blindness to the existence of powerboats.

Instructor competence To be able to teach Dayskipper theory courses at night school all you used to need to be was a Yachtmaster Offshore – ie no Instructor training needed and no review of your skills to teach by the RYA. Over the last couple of years all such Instructors have needed to become Shorebased Instructors which has weeded many poor Instructors out of the system.
The syllabus: The syllabus has been reworked this year to include teaching sessions that recognise the existence of fast powerboats as well as slower yachts (historically hardly anything went faster than 5 knots in the examples used!)

This does not necessarily seem to be working though on your course, if you do have concerns about the teaching capability of your Instructor (ie a course should balance the different needs of course participants) then the RYA would be very grateful to hear from you – it is only by doing so that such issues can be addressed. Contact Jon Mendez (Chief Powerboat & Motorboat Instructor) at jonathan.mendez@rya.org.uk.

Should you stick with the course? In my view yes. When I did my own Dayskipper Theory course many years ago it was much as yours seems to be. I learnt lots (and indeed wondered too whether steering to 1º accuracy was possible!) I think the course is an invaluable way to build on the knowledge gained at Level 2 and give a far better background understanding of many areas of boating.

I would agree with Richard regarding using a compass. It is invaluable but your ability to steer accurately to it will vary materially from boat to boat & compass to compass. Steering to +/- 5 or 10º is eminently feasible and can often be a lot easier than programming and fiddling with a GPS. The key about charts and a GPS is to understand how to use them together rather than either or. Methods such as the “waypoint web” and the “railway track” are now being taught to ‘link’ your GPS to the chart. I agree too that to reply on GPS solely is foolhardy – hence the benefit of understanding chart based navigation

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Old 25 November 2003, 16:42   #9
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Unfortunately, the instructor seems to believe that Powerboat and GPS are rude words.
This could mean that they do not have a clue how to use them themselves!!!

Can ribs be driven to the accuracy of this theory?
The course is a theory course, you are expected to be perfect when sitting in a classroom with the heater on. If you can do it then you will be able to use when at sea, in whatever craft you are in.

I understand I need to know about navigation before venturing out but the course seems to be biased towards sailing.
This will be because the main group that want this course are sailors and it is at present geared towards them.

Any advice?

Keep it going, it is worth it. You will learn lots however good or bad your instr is. You can learn from others on the course.

It is just as important to understand how to use GPS as it is to understand the basics of navigation. You may want to tell your instructor that navigation is the same whatever craft you are in, Warship, Yacht, Rib. The theory is the same and if anyone can steer to 1Deg i would be impressed(autopilots not included).

Regards
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Old 26 November 2003, 05:41   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by quinquarimarine
1. A GPS is an aid to navigation and must never, due to equipment or knowledge availability be relied upon as the main source of data.
Do you really believe that?

In a fast, open boat GPS is by far the best principal method of navigation. Nothing else comes close.

Obviously a GPS on its own is no use without some sort of chart, but nor is a compass. What do you suggest as your preferred main source of data? Your log? A three bearing fix? A running fix?

Whilst it may be useful to understand other methods (although their practical use on a RIB is debatable) as a principal means of knowing where you are, GPS is unbeatable.

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Old 26 November 2003, 06:08   #11
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I agree, I dont think you can beat GPS. I found much the same thing when I did my Dayskipper course. Everyone apart from me used sail not power, and the instructor was very biased about sail and usually made jokes about power during the course. Fortunately, the instructor himself was a GPS person and used GPS all the time and swore by it.

Someone on the course asked the question 'But what if the GPS fails'. His reply was 'Then I just get my portable GPS from my bag'. He was then asked 'But what if that one got flooded or the batteries were flat as well'. He replied 'Then I would just ask my passengers, with GPS prices what they are, there are normally at least 2 or 3 passengers on my yacht that have brought their portable GPS with them'.

Of course you should learn the compass skills as well but once on the RIB, I just set my course and follow the line and I always end up within a few metres of where I intended to be. If you go off course for any reason it shows you on the line, there is no having to stop, take a fix and try and work out where you are like when using charts and a compass.

Of course, people that use charts and a compass all the time become very good at it and they are very accurate, but this comes with experience. With GPS you can virtually get a very accurate position from day one.

I do think it's a shame that the Dayskipper course, when run by some instructors, is so biased. There are plenty of power boats out there to justify the course being aimed at them as well.

Having said all that, I learnt almost everything I know now on my Dayskipper course and I do understand more about other vessels as well. It is worth staying to the end.
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Old 26 November 2003, 08:03   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by slangley
His reply was 'Then I just get my portable GPS from my bag'
That's great, and I would do the same, but would the chap have entered all his waypoints into the spare unit, or just into the main unit that's now kaput? Also bear in mind that GPS is George W's train set, and he can play with it in whatever manner he likes. So if things are kicking off a bit in the middle east he might just make the unencrypted non-military data transmissions unavailable for a while.

I think GPS are great, and I've got three, but my biggest navigational clangers have come from relying on them too much!

I'm also happy with RYA tuition taking the traditional approach - like mathemetics, I still believe that it's a good approach to become proficient at mental arithmetic before learning to use an electronic calculator.
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Old 26 November 2003, 08:17   #13
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There are regular places that I travel to and all my emergency waypoints ( like how to get home ) are always in my backup GPS.

Regardless of that, if 2 GPSs go down then I would consider that an emergency situation that I hope does not happen too often. Then I would go to the charts, work out the position I need to get to and then type that position into another GPS and go from there. It is just as easy to make an error using charts and compasses.

I am also, all for the traditional approach and I am glad that I did the course. But, I still don't see why powerboat and GPS are dirty words when it comes to the dayskipper course. There is a lot about sailing in the course which is usefull to know. BUT since you dont use it very much the likelyhood is that you would have forgotten it. I know I for one cannot remember all my lights, shapes and sounds that I learnt, only the ones I use and see regularly.

When ever I venture out further or go somewhere that I dont know very well I always have my charts with me just in case.

Commercial ships ( at least the ones that I have been on ) nearly always use GPS as their main navigation tool as do airlines. Charts are merely a backup.
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Old 26 November 2003, 09:04   #14
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When I did my Commercial Licence (about 8 yrs ago)the examaner check all my course/position fixing by his own wee Garmen GPS However I was not allowed to use the one fitted to the Vessel
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Old 26 November 2003, 09:17   #15
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Well I am doing my Yachtmaster theory at night school at the moment and find the course invaluable for my circumstances. I have enjoyed all the chart work but do believe that in this day and age it is 'old hat' (but still an invaluable backup) with the new technology that is available. The problem is that you have older lecturers who have not got the experience in using modern GPS plotters and therefore 'blinkered' as to their superb benefits. Don't get me wrong, I am sure there are some lecturers are bang up to date, but I have one of the older school lecturers .

I am more than happy to learn the hard way, but feel that it is very wrong that more is not put into modern GPS methods. Most people that knock the new plotters and GPS seem IMHO to be the unfortunate ones who cannot afford the kit, or who are plain technofobes. I use the Garmin Blue Charts which are superb, I can't imagine driving a powerboat and messing about with paper charts at 42knts, but still keep paper charts just in case. I also have a spare basic GPS which I can use as a back up if required.

I would recommend the course to anyone, it is heavy going and a big commitment, but the knowledge gained is great for me and has been well worth the effort.
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Old 26 November 2003, 10:30   #16
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I did the Yachtmaster theory last winter and found it tremendous. All the little things that you'd never had thought about...and I found it bang up to date...even down to the picture of the RIB with dive flag.

Regarding the chartwork, I found it ok but after a tough day at work, there were times you felt like giving an evening a miss.
At the very least, working the maps the "old" way gives you a lot of confidence and takes the mystery out of all those symbols...the very same symbols that appear on the chartplotter! So the information is far from lost...

As for GPS, our instructor brought in a Garmin salesperson one evening to do a class on GPS. Worked out for both sides I imagine.

We finished the charts by Christmas and straight into weather and regulations. All very interesting.
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Old 26 November 2003, 10:59   #17
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this could be one reason for knowing your charts.

Date of Conviction: 6 October 2000

Offence: Contravention of Rule 10(b)(i) of the Prevention of Collision Regulations 1996 (COLREGS).

Details:
The CLUB MED is a very large and fast catamaran purpose built for The RACE, which is a round the world non-stop endurance race beginning in Barcelona in December.
The CLUB MED was sailing from Southampton to London and during the night of Wednesday 4th October was observed by Dover Coastguard to be entering the traffic lane and heading against the traffic flow. The yacht sailed in the wrong lane against other traffic for 24 miles.
The CLUB MED was sailing at speeds of up to 21.5 knots in the dark and passed 13 ships including 2 passenger ferries and had close quarters situations with a number of these ships and passed only 1 cable away from a cargo ship carrying dangerous goods and marine pollutants.
The CLUB MED did not respond to radio calls by Coastguard and a spotter plane and the Emergency Towing Vessel were sent to indentify the yacht.

Penalty: Mr Dalton was fined £12000 plus £3000 costs.


Ooh that hurts.
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Old 29 November 2003, 07:14   #18
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Like many on the Forum, I too did the RYA Day Skipper theory at evening classes. However, GPS hadn't become available then, so Decca was the hi-tech navigational aid of the day.

A fat lot of good that was - mine worked well PROVIDED THE ENGINE WASN'T RUNNING ! Fortunately, GPS doesn't seem to be affected by electrical interference from the HT ignition circuit and is rather more accurate/reliable that the old Decca system, especially now that selective availability has been turned off.

It was a few years before I invested in my first GPS set, so I used charts and a compass exclusively. It's a great feeling coming out of fog or heat haze and arriving right on the mark, having used just a compass, charts and an assumption for windage. Tide was rarely a problem, as I could get to most places (such as across Lyme Bay) at slack water.

Perhaps because of my enforced reliability on the compass (I had a magnetic compass and - in the last 5-6 years- an Asimuth fluxgate compass - fantastic! - as well as a hand-held) I always prepared a "flight plan". I still do this or I would, if I wasn't between boats!.

Why? Some might ask. Well, first Aries II only had 2 speeds - 29kts (cruising) and 36kts (flat out) - so there wasn't time to wait for the GPS to catch-up at turning points (especially around the Needles, for example). Second, I could do the entire trip without the GPS, if it (and the back-up) died.

In addition, I always had the current chart open on my chart table. OK, I appreciate that this is not an option for most RIBs and I don't expect to be able to use a chart on my new RIB, when I eventually get it. But I shall certainly have the charts on board, prepare a "flight plan" (created using the charts) and use the compass and GPS together.

So back to the beginning of this thread - Yes, I think that the Day Skipper theory course is still valid for those of us that do 5kts at tick-over and it does provide an insight into what those odd characters that helm yachts are likely to do when we come across them!

Good luck with the course!

Chris.
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Old 29 November 2003, 08:30   #19
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OK-I'll buy it !!

What is a "an Asimuth fluxgate compass" and how does it difer from the err...other type?
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Old 29 November 2003, 08:43   #20
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Its an electronic compass giving a digital display. Supposed to be more accurate than the magnet type especially bouncing through the waves but i have found my big Plasimo compass works well.

Pete
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