Before commenting now on some of the kit, lessons learnt etc. a thank you to those who have commented about the role that Top Hat played in the event. We were only one of three of the safety boats all of whom fulfilled a similar role. Our focus though was on the small boat fleet. Thanks should go to Viv, Sammy & James (James had only been boating once or twice before) as they spent hours in rough seas keeping eyes on the craft we were shadowing. This sounds easy but in very large irregular seas it is far more difficult to track multiple craft than you might imagine – and is just as tiring as helming. Also credit to Buffa – he never moved from lying on the bench seat for 14 hours!! He only made two noises all the trip – to bark at a seal and to howl when the CG issued a DSC Urgency Alert when the CG were seeking Hugo’s party – a cool dog!
Raymarine e97 Hybrid Touch: Whilst I teach with this plotter often I rarely use it for personal navigation. It is a great piece of kit. I like the ability to use touch screen sometimes but equally to have a full set of controls as an alternative. What really makes this for me though is the fact that I can control it from a iPad. We have the control software loaded which allows 100% control of the plotter from within wifi range. We also have the Navionics Charts loaded. Therefore when I needed to navigate hard with the plotter I tended to take a seat away from the helm and use a mixture of the plotter software and the navionics. Routes plotted on the ipad transferred automatically to the plotter and vice versa. The GPS on the ipad always seemed to work fine giving a useful backup to the Raymarine. I appreciate that we were not on a RIB but on some RIBs with multiple seats the ability to move away from the console to use the plotter may be useful. Equally the ipad moves with you so you actually I actually often found it easier to control the plotter from the ipad than trying to use the real plotters controls. I will maintain that electronics must always be used alongside other techniques to back up the electronics but this was a first class unit. Things I would improve:
• The ability to run a route but also set the plotter to track another waypoint at the same time. I would use this to track the position off an object as I pass it (eg a rock) or use it for ‘bearing to compass rose’ plotting technique
• Below 166m the plotter reads in feet not metres and cannot be changed – bizarre
• There should be a dual radar screen so you can scroll in on one screen and out on the other – like with dual chartplotter screens
Autohelm – A great piece of kit for following a course. Not so great when following multiple RIBs as they tend to move around a bit
Icom VHFs – where possible I always try to fit dual VHFs. The benefit of doing so on this trip was that I didn’t need to use dual watch to monitor our working channel and 16/CG Working channel. The regular comms on 08 meant that sets tended just to monitor 08 rather than being returned to 16/08 after transmitting meaning less craft ended up monitoring 16 for major issues.
AIS – (Digital Yacht 2000) – a great piece of kit which we fitted the week before we left. We fitted it with its own aeriel for better performance (and is cheaper than using a splitter). Being able to track Merlin and Seawolf was handy. Advanced warning of big ships and some yachts was handy too. Clearly AIS was handy for those tracking us too. We have a switch to run silent though!
Donegal Fuel – the refueling guys. For petrol boats the event would have been impossible without them. They were 200% professional too.
Botnia Targa 30 (www.targa.fi
) - An incredible boat. When it gets rough shut the doors, turn up the music and carry on!
• Carry boards to hang outside your fenders – prevents damage to boat in many ports when alongside jetties. I appreciate this is not feasible on smaller craft
• For diesel boats take a funnel as fuel trucks often have big nozzles for fuelling trawlers
• Picking up pots was a real issue – have the means to cut them to hand