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Old 25 November 2003, 08:35   #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, 08:57   #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, 08:59   #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, 09:45   #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, 09:51   #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, 12:34   #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 !!

John
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Old 25 November 2003, 12:48   #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, 14:16   #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

Paul
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Old 25 November 2003, 17:42   #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
Stuart
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Old 26 November 2003, 06:41   #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.

John
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