Sailing without charts

fred henderson
13th April 2006, 16:42
The Dutch Transport and Water Management Inspectorate has authorised a new general cargo ship (Wagonborg, 3,990 grt) to entirely dispense with paper charts and rely solely upon her advanced electronic navigation system. I cannot see why. What are the advantages of this change? The electronic systems must be far more expensive than paper charts and electronics can fail. What are the members views?

Fred (Read)

gadgee
13th April 2006, 17:27
Thought it inevitable that this would come about. We old hands are thinking all about the "what ifs", but the smart new boys are probably thinking that the new technology is so proven that they are going for it now whatever! Digital charts must be so reliable by now anyway. I expect that back-up systems will be in place?

hawkey01
13th April 2006, 18:59
Total horror, just cannot imagine this one. I presume they will be utilizing a GPS system with this. There will surely have to be a system whereby corrections can be downloaded. I know the GPS system is fantastic but it is always prudent to have a backup. Can deck officers still use sextants and take stars etc or are modern ships totally reliant on the new technology?
I am sure some of our deck side will reply on this one. Also please dont take that as an insult, I know some seem to misread the written word.
Regards
Hawkey01 (Fly)

Gulpers
13th April 2006, 19:40
I enjoy sailing and have just bought a bigger yacht which the family intend to venture further afield on. Whilst she has a fixed GPS, an independent Chart Plotter, hand held GPS and AIS receiver I won't dispense with the traditional Nav Aids.

Unlikely as it is, my dread is that the boat's electrics fail and I would have to rely on my hand held GPS with an adequate supply of batteries. More paranoia - what happens if GPS Selective Availability, which was eliminated in May 2000, is turned on, or the whole satellite network fails?

In addition to the electronic gizmos, she carries an Admiralty chart folio for our intended sailing area, electronic log and echo sounder, Walker's log, steering compass and hand bearing compass. Personally I wouldn't rely totally on electronics although, if used correctly, they are magnificent Nav Aids. "Aids" is the key word - a bit of “proper” navigation and DR work never goes wrong!

Old fashioned or not, I can't help feeling that anyone who totally dispenses with traditional Nav Aids, or just as bad, carries them and doesn't practice their use, is tempting fate!

STRAWBERRY
13th April 2006, 20:56
Crazy! All systems must have a manual back-up...nothing is infallable!!!!

benjidog
13th April 2006, 21:00
Fred,

I presume that a full risk analysis was carried out before that decision was taken. I would be interested in seeing that document.

Whoever completed it must have made a number of assumptions including an extremely low rate of predicted failure of the satellites. I wonder how they would fare in a war situation - presumably they could be knocked out? And is it beyond possibility that they could be affected by some kind of adverse atmospheric effect or a large sunspot.

Seems irresponsible to me not to have what must be a relatively cheap fallback in the form of charts.

Is the thinking that you can save money on skilled navigators because you just look at the gizmos, type in the coordinates of where you want to go and leave them to get on with it?

Full automatic control on the Docklands Light Railway requires an act of faith when you sit in the front seat and there is no driver. But a large ship?

Brian

scooby do
13th April 2006, 21:11
I was told that during time of conflict USA would shut down civilian access to their satallite network to deny enemy use. That would be a bit of a pain. Fog, & no signal.

TARBATNESS
13th April 2006, 22:17
Electronic charts show you where you are as opposed to where you were a few seconds or minutes ago. The accuracy and reliability is so good that it is inevitable that we will go down the paperless bridge route. Sooner the better................all your chart corrections on a CD-ROM that can be down loaded over INMARSAT. The future is Electronic soon to be followed by virtual navigation. All the concerns about turning off in war time etc are acknowledged but I feel totally overblown. Steam replaced sail and the world did not stop turning so electronic charts will replace paper charts.(Thumb) (Applause)

David Wilcockson
13th April 2006, 23:07
The days of crewless ships can`t be far off being a reality, if not already in practice.
David (Night)

benjidog
13th April 2006, 23:30
Interesting comparison with sail and steam Shaun,

But you omitted to say that early steam ships were built with masts and sails as backup in case the engines failed! Of course in time these were phased out but have we reached the same level of confidence with Satnav systems? I really don't know but would always err on the side of caution.

What is not clear from Fred's opening posting is whether the ship will have its own electronic charts that could be used for navigational purposes if the satellite system was lost. Electronic charts available on computer screens, providing that they were sufficiently resilient, and kept track of the course while the Satnav system was operating, would provide an equivalent - and probably better version of what is on paper charts. There would still be a need to plot your course based on your last known position and the usual forces of tide, power and wind. Whoever was navigating the ship would need to know how to measure these factors and feed them into the system. If that can be achieved then the paper charts are less critical.

I am certainly not a Luddite - my job depends on the ongoing development of computer systems - but they do go wrong. Thank goodness they do or I would be unemployed.

Regards,

Brian

Hamish Mackintosh
14th April 2006, 00:46
Hey Guys! What about airplanes,never seen a chart room on they babies,nor seen the second pilot on the wing with a sextant (Hippy)

Keltic Star
14th April 2006, 06:26
The days of crewless ships can`t be far off being a reality, if not already in practice.
David (Night)

We're working on it

Keltic Star
14th April 2006, 06:30
Electronic charts show you where you are as opposed to where you were a few seconds or minutes ago. The accuracy and reliability is so good that it is inevitable that we will go down the paperless bridge route. Sooner the better................all your chart corrections on a CD-ROM that can be down loaded over INMARSAT. The future is Electronic soon to be followed by virtual navigation. All the concerns about turning off in war time etc are acknowledged but I feel totally overblown. Steam replaced sail and the world did not stop turning so electronic charts will replace paper charts.(Thumb) (Applause)

As one of the old school, I hate to admit it but you are entirely correct. Once again we are twenty odd years behind the aviation industry and they operate at 500 knots.

Peter Steele
14th April 2006, 10:23
Don't expect me to comment on navigation, I was a steward at sea. Officers and Engineers may become redundant with the new technology taking over but have they invented anything to make your beds for you? or, more importantly a cup of tea or coffee? That is a tongue in cheek comment guys! I am amzed at the size of the modern ships that sail now with such small crews! I mean the MV Surrey of about 8000 tons had something like 4 deck officers plus the skipper and perhaps a couple of apprentices. How many engineers did she have? it must have been 8 or 9 I think. I was the engineers steward for one trip and I recall engineers, refrigeration engineers, electrical engineers plus the Chief. Not to mention a heap of A/B's and O/Seamen and 4 Assistant Stewards, 2 Stewards Boys plus Pantry Boy and Galley Boy. The total crew numbered something between 50 and 60 I think. Peter Steele

BarryM
14th April 2006, 11:02
Ah - but if no Engineers or Mates, no need for Stewards to make bunks either!

Tmac1720
14th April 2006, 13:52
Electronic navagational aids are great, according to the sat nav in my car I live on the Moon. [=P] (Smoke) (Hippy)

fred henderson
14th April 2006, 15:39
Hey Guys! What about airplanes,never seen a chart room on they babies,nor seen the second pilot on the wing with a sextant (Hippy)


When ever I have sat next to a pilot he/she has had a paper chart folded on his/her knee and a loose leaf book with a sheet of the airport he/she his heading for. Those pilot cases that they lug around are full of paperwork.

Fred

James MacDonald
14th April 2006, 15:51
Whats a steward ?

gdynia
14th April 2006, 15:51
Electronic navagational aids are great, according to the sat nav in my car I live on the Moon. [=P] (Smoke) (Hippy)

Oul Hand
We must of bought the same model as Im there as well (Thumb)

Hamish Mackintosh
14th April 2006, 16:24
When ever I have sat next to a pilot he/she has had a paper chart folded on his/her knee and a loose leaf book with a sheet of the airport he/she his heading for. Those pilot cases that they lug around are full of paperwork.

Fred
Here and I thoukht it was their lunch(airlines are cutting back)Seriously tho I remember when I was taking my pilots licence the nav class was much the same as the maritime ones, but back then there was no radar either,(well there was but not as we know it today.)my point was the pilot can board a 747, punch in the co-ordinates of where one wants to go and the plane will do the rest.or so I was told at the last airshow I attended

fred henderson
14th April 2006, 17:22
Here and I thoukht it was their lunch(airlines are cutting back)Seriously tho I remember when I was taking my pilots licence the nav class was much the same as the maritime ones, but back then there was no radar either,(well there was but not as we know it today.)my point was the pilot can board a 747, punch in the co-ordinates of where one wants to go and the plane will do the rest.or so I was told at the last airshow I attended

On this side of the pond, all the air charts seem to have blue print and show the air corridors. The pilot will punch in the co-ordinates of the first junction and when the aircraft arrives there, he will then will punch in the data for the next, but the co-ordinates come from the paper charts.
It may all be changing, I am not a pilot. It is possible that the paper charts are only used to impress the punter who has chartered the biz-jet!

Fred (Thumb)

mclean
14th April 2006, 18:23
The days of crewless ships can`t be far off being a reality, if not already in practice.
David (Night)
David, I could not disagree with you more. Take for example, the recent grounding and sinking of the British Columbia Ferry Queen of The North. The enquiry is ongoing, however BC Ferries have stated that there were no mechanical problems with the vessel. This vessel had just cleared Grenville Channel southbound into Wright Sound, where an automatic alteration to port is called for. (I traded up this coast in the early 70,s and am familiar with the area.) She did not alter course, but proceeded across Wright Sound, and hit Gil Island. Now what went wrong with the modern nav.aids here? Unfortunately (being one of the oldies) I believe that a sense of complacency must have played a part in the minds of those on watch. My point is, had the watchkeepers been keeping a proper lookout, this accident would have ben avoided. Colin,

James_C
14th April 2006, 19:08
Shauns hit the nail on the head, Electronic charts are the future.
As regards concerns over their fallability, of course nothing is 100% but they now have most avenues covered.
The Admiralty Hydro Office have been experiementing with the paperless system themselves, using a couple of Freddie Everards coastal tankers as guinea pigs.
Each ship would have two independant ECDIS systems, with two separate power supplies etc. In the event of power failure, each system has an Uninterruptable power Supply which runs on batteries or suchlike, and provides power for a set number of hours (may even be a whole day). Also, although the ECDIS uses GPS, almost all systems these days can and indeed often are linked up to the LORAN-C system. Should that all fall flat on its face, you can input positions manually, by typing in the lat and long on the keyboard or using the range and bearing tool on the screen.
Re Selective availability, although that is a concern, its very unlikely the Yanks will reintroduce it, also remember that GPS will be superseded in years to come with the new European Satellite System, theres always GLONASS (the Russian system) and indeed the Chinese have started launching satellites for yet another system.
Chart corrections for these things are an absolute doddle. You can literally have EVERY chart for EVERY stretch of water on the planet on this machine, which you of course cant do with paper charts. The corrections are either posted to the ship on CD or you download them from an email onto a floppy disk, which you then put in the machine, press a few buttons and within seconds the corrections are done.
Manna from heaven for the 2nd Mate!

Plutoglory
14th April 2006, 20:32
The problems with electronic charting systems are more to do with failure to recruit and adequately train competent navigators to use them. Nothing is foolproof, but if systems are monitored by personnel with sufficient training, failures will be picked up.
Employing poorly trained screen watchers will lead to disaster (again and again).
Professional pilots spend a lot of their time in highly expensive simulators training for the moment when the systems will fail.

Dave M.

TARBATNESS
14th April 2006, 21:01
The problems with electronic charting systems are more to do with failure to recruit and adequately train competent navigators to use them. Nothing is foolproof, but if systems are monitored by personnel with sufficient training, failures will be picked up.
Employing poorly trained screen watchers will lead to disaster (again and again).
Professional pilots spend a lot of their time in highly expensive simulators training for the moment when the systems will fail.

Dave M.

Dave

You are so correct. Although a big fan of ECDIS and WECDIS, I am worried that it will open the door to "screen watchers" and you end up with "monkey see..monkey do" personnel who don't know what to do if/when the system crashes. Therefore, a very robust regime of maintaining core navigational skills must be in place e.g using sextants on open passage, maximising coastal navigation methods, practice of secondary methods etc. The trick is to ensure that the training is seen to be required otherwise you just hack people off for no good reason.

(Thumb)

John Rogers
14th April 2006, 21:15
Hamish, Pilots do use paper charts as pilots on this board will tell you,they are called jeppesen charts and they come in a book size.
Not too long ago pilots were still using the sextant in the bomber aircraft,they were a little smaller than the sea-going type. Now its dial in your grid co-ordinates and the doppler Nav system will take you to the spot.

Chris Field
14th April 2006, 22:53
What is the source of information regrding coastlines/isolated dangers/depths etc etc for these electronic chart systems- if it comes from paper charts then it is no better than them. As I have pointed out in another thread recently, there are many stretches of coastline such as Papua New Guinea that bear little resemblance to their charted versions - so who on earth would want to rely on an electronic version?
Lat and Long are meaningless in such situations, no matter how many decimal points are involved- what you MUST know is how your course and position relate to the actual danger itself- paper charts allow that.

James_C
15th April 2006, 00:46
I think if the ship in question was to sail to those parts, then they would of course have a source of paper charts onboard. If however, the paper chart is wildly inaccurate, then its just as useless as the electronic facsimile version.
The likes of Wagenborg don't stray far from Northwest Europe!
Remember, you don't have to use a GPS feed, you can isolate the feed and input positions manually using the range and bearing tool, having taken bearings from a repeater or the radar etc.
As regards dangers etc, there are two types of Electronic chart - Raster and Vector.
Raster charts are basically scanned copies of paper charts, and are one dimensional - just like paper charts. Vector charts consist of several 'layers', a bit like a cake, and you can add/remove each layer and 'interogate' the dangers therein. In that respect they are far superior to both Raster and paper charts. Other countries have been on the ball with this and have their own systems, however the Admiralty Hydro office is still trialling this type of chart.
I'm not sure if WECDIS (MoD version) is Vector based, perhaps one of the RFA lads can confirm?

dom
15th April 2006, 04:02
near miss's by planes,ships colliding in broad daylight,tiered flignt controlers ,accidents will allways happen most instraments are aids onlts,otherwise there would'nt be a manual overide

Keltic Star
15th April 2006, 07:07
On this side of the pond, all the air charts seem to have blue print and show the air corridors. The pilot will punch in the co-ordinates of the first junction and when the aircraft arrives there, he will then will punch in the data for the next, but the co-ordinates come from the paper charts.
It may all be changing, I am not a pilot. It is possible that the paper charts are only used to impress the punter who has chartered the biz-jet!

Fred (Thumb)
It is my understanding that "Punching In" is done at the flight preplanning stage and for regular scheduled flights, by air dispatch in coordination with air traffic control. The pilot just enters them in the onboard computers. The same can be done for ships.

Rumour has it that Blue Flue had the company's routes pre determined at head office. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Keltic Star
15th April 2006, 07:18
I think if the ship in question was to sail to those parts, then they would of course have a source of paper charts onboard. If however, the paper chart is wildly inaccurate, then its just as useless as the electronic facsimile version.
The likes of Wagenborg don't stray far from Northwest Europe!
Remember, you don't have to use a GPS feed, you can isolate the feed and input positions manually using the range and bearing tool, having taken bearings from a repeater or the radar etc.
As regards dangers etc, there are two types of Electronic chart - Raster and Vector.
Raster charts are basically scanned copies of paper charts, and are one dimensional - just like paper charts. Vector charts consist of several 'layers', a bit like a cake, and you can add/remove each layer and 'interogate' the dangers therein. In that respect they are far superior to both Raster and paper charts. Other countries have been on the ball with this and have their own systems, however the Admiralty Hydro office is still trialling this type of chart.
I'm not sure if WECDIS (MoD version) is Vector based, perhaps one of the RFA lads can confirm?

You can buy a CD pack with all NOAA North American raster and vecor charts (some 3000) together with navigation software and update subscription from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for $50.00. Just add a laptop and GPS.

Now if only Canada and Europe would do the same.

Peter Steele
15th April 2006, 10:01
Oh No James! Don't tell me stewards are redundant as well! I forgot, crew members take their wives with them these days don't they.
Barry M. If there were no ships there would be no need for engineers or mates either! Where does this discussion end?

Ron Stringer
15th April 2006, 14:51
All marine charts are derived from data gathered during surveys (by shore parties or during survey voyages). In busy seaways these surveys will be relatively recent but in the less-visited parts of the oceans, the surveys may be a century or more old. (Some current paper charts still reference Captain Cook's surveys as the source of the chart data). It is relatively straight-forward to draw that data onto paper or to enter it into an electronic charting system. However the relationships between survey data on different charts depends on the datum point used for each survey (and the corresponding shape of the planet that was assumed when establishing the datum). All survey data is related to a datum point and many different datum points have been used over the years by different charting agencies and surveyors. The same point on the surface of the earth may appear at widely different locations on charts that have used differing datum points.

Much discussion and argument has gone on at IMO and IHO over the last couple of decades in trying to establish a single datum point for future surveys and for future navigational systems. Most satellite navigation systems and ECDIS electronic systems now use a common datum (and associated earth shape), but they differ from many paper charts previously used.

Electronic vector charts (as used by ECDIS) can present the user with many levels of information, depending on the current requirements - voyage planning or detailed pilotage. The user can choose to display (or not) depth and seabed information, navigational lights, hazards and marks, tidal flows and many other features that are most suited to the task in hand. The paper charts could provide all (or most of) that information on several different sheets but the ECDIS information can be presented on a single display together with GPS, radar or ARPA information. The benefits to a skilled user are enormous - he/she can simultaneously view the most appropriate information and presentation for the current task, adding and removing levels of information as and when necessary by the push of a button. For the unskilled user therein lie the dangers - the user must be aware of what needs to be displayed and what can safely be blanked at any particular instant.

These new system, like paper charts themselves are only aids to navigation and require interpretation and user knowledge if they are to make the maximum possible contribution to safe navigation. Whether or not it is possible to translate such skills, knowledge and interpretational ability into a computer program capable of carrying out the navigator's role, is a matter to be established.

Ron

scooby do
15th April 2006, 18:11
Coastal charts cost about £20-- $11.50 each UK full set £200. Why would'nt you buy
them. They are Quite nice as wall decorations. And if you blow a fuse It would avoid.
Well use your imagination.

Keltic Star
16th April 2006, 06:52
A bullet in the computer destroys the entire navigation system, a bullet in a paper chart still allows you to use the rest of it.

Attributed to some Admiral in the U.S.N.

Nairda59
17th April 2006, 15:10
Course people our age assume that a ship actually needs PEOPLE on it.
We may get a very very nasty shock - sooner than later i fear !!!
If I was a man that was taking to my bed with despair, I would never get up mornings.
I heard an owner saying that he never had troubles with his ships only the crew running them.
I bet if he had asked the crew they would have said they never had troubles with the ship only the owner.
Imagine the no people on board can you, I cant.

Hamish Mackintosh
17th April 2006, 16:49
I have a Streets and trips with GPS locator program I purchased from Costco for 110 dollars,I hook it up to my laptop and take it in the car ,then punch in the address I want to go to, and it shows me the shortest route to get there,and if I miss a turn it gives me a voice prompt,and tells me how to correct my mistake ,and get back to my original route.My point being that less than thirty years from now,when a young lad looks at a paper chart on the walls of some museum he will say"whats that" Reminds me of an old coaster I wa on that had just got Radar, in fog,the old skipper if he saw a blip on the screen , would not believe it was there untill he could see or hear it

Keltic Star
18th April 2006, 08:19
Course people our age assume that a ship actually needs PEOPLE on it.
We may get a very very nasty shock - sooner than later i fear !!!
If I was a man that was taking to my bed with despair, I would never get up mornings.
I heard an owner saying that he never had troubles with his ships only the crew running them.
I bet if he had asked the crew they would have said they never had troubles with the ship only the owner.
Imagine the no people on board can you, I cant.

The "Autonomous Patrol Boat" is in development, at this stage, not to save costs but to save lives in covert extractions. Once proven, it's only a matter of time before a larger civillian version comes along.

muirsheen
26th January 2009, 21:35
Coming across the pacific last year (36' sloop), the computer mutinied and took the charts with it. Fortunately, had small-scale paper chart with which to find NZ and also larger scale Bay of Plenty chart to make landfall in Tauranga.
Year before (I think), whilst making for Salvador,(Bahia) the GPS was being less than truthful. This I know, because one only had to look over the side to see that I was NOT making 700kts! Position given, also, was not reliable.Two sextants on board,so no problem. Getting in to Itaparica a couple of days later, found the anomaly occurred on the day Saddam was topped.
So, in spite of assurances, they speak with forked tongue!

Ian6
26th January 2009, 21:56
As one from the 'hambone' and noon sights generation I ought to be going "Oh! my God" about this, but we have to accept technological progress. Someone presumably said "let's keep the oars" when sails first appeared, then "let's keep the sails when steam arrived" etc.
Some problems will result but doubtless many savings will occur. After a recent voyage with Hurtigruten I had to admit that almost total automation gave enormous accuracy and matching economies of manpower.
Progress ain't always pretty or easy - if it proves false then some other route will succeed, but progress happens.
Ian

Chris Field
26th January 2009, 22:21
I fully agree with the critics of this stupid idea, the more so having spent several years in coasting around places such as New Guinea where the charted coastline and the actual coastlines differ occasionally- which do the electro-navigators include in their gear?
In situations like these it is ESSENTIAL to know your position relative to those nasty rocky bits rather than the academic latitude and longitude- which in PNG can be a couple of miles distant!
Carry on with the old stuff at least as backup.

Klaatu83
26th January 2009, 23:18
Electronic charts are like GPS - great until the electricity fails. I was on a ship where the GPS was knocked out when the antenna was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm. We were operating on a schedule and the Company wasn't about delay sailing for the GPS to be repaired. Consequently, we sailed on schedule and navigated across the Atlantic by sextant. I wouldn't recommend anyone go to sea relying only on electronics.

cubpilot
27th January 2009, 10:10
airline crews have more than one system of navigation, on board there is GPS and INS ( inertial gyros), then from ground based radio aids VOR, and being phased out NDB for adf bearings. Then to back that up ATC units using radar. even so it is a regulatory requirement that they carry paper airways charts.
electronic charts might be the future but will the old man be able to scrawl a message to call him when you reach this point or that?

cubpilot
27th January 2009, 10:44
i forgot to mention that flight crews also have to log altitudes and course changes, and plot at regular intervals their position on paper charts which have to be retained by the airlines for future reference by regulators. eg CAA.

Ron Stringer
27th January 2009, 10:48
Whilst serving at sea I was never on a ship with anything more advanced than Decca Navigator and certainly nothing of the likes of electronic charts. But one ship suffered extremely high vibration levels from delivery until the guarantee drydock, when 160 tons of additional steelwork was incorporated into the after end. (Thereafter she only suffered from very high levels of vibration).

On about the third or fourth voyage, during the 12-4 one afternoon, we got a change of orders, taking us off our usual route. I handed the message to the old man, who was chatting to the 2nd mate in the chartroom.

''Let's have a look at the chart,'' was his first comment, and the 2nd mate pulled out one of the lower drawers below the chart table to pull out a canvas folder of charts. When he untied the securing tabs and opened the folder, there was a lot of white fluff, something like cotton wool or the stuff that blows off plants such as fireweed/rosebay willow herb. He looked puzzled and made some remark about shipyard cleaners and started to go through the charts looking for the ones he needed for the new destination.

As he opened the charts it soon was apparent that something was very wrong. The printing on all the charts was very faint and, on some charts, missing altogether in some areas. There were even a few completely blank charts. Then the penny dropped. The fluff was in effect similar to the stuff you create when rubbing out pencil marks from a chart, only in this case it came not from the eraser but from the charts themselves. For several months the unused charts had been vibrating in the loosely tied folder in the drawer and their surfaces had been rubbing against each other.

Most charts were unusable since depth soundings had been erased and even the lat/long markings on the edge of the charts had gone. Bolder items such as coastlines could be seen on some charts, but on others even those had gone. The old man and the 2nd mate had to make do with a route-planning chart and hope for the best. We survived.

Mind you we had a rather strained exchange of messages with the office in London when we requested so many new charts be flown out to a vessel that was only 9 or 10 months old. An H/F link call had to be made from the South Atlantic to explain matters and convince the super that they hadn't been flogged off somewhere.

Derek Roger
27th January 2009, 17:01
I hunt a lot and have a GPS which is quite usefull but I would never go into the woods without my compass . The GPS tends not to get a signal when in heavy softwood canopy.

Derek

sidsal
27th January 2009, 21:31
In the Chilean fjords on the Royal Princess the electronic charts showed us sailing half a mile inland. The master said it was because the charts went back to Beagle days in the 1830's. I would have thought that with satellites etc the charts would have been updated by now!

sidsal
27th January 2009, 22:14
When I was 3rd Mate in Brocklebank immediately after ww2 the 2nd Mate who's name I forget was a born practcal joker and was always at loggerheads with the master who was quite a stuffy old character. The ship had a quandratal magnetic compass - no gyro or such newfangled thing. However it had a primitive radar set the screen of which was housed inside the chart table where the chronometers would usually be . (They had been moved) The drill was to lift the lid and prop it up and place a black canvas hood over the lid. This hood had a slit in it and you stuck your head in this slit to view the slanting screen.
Now the captain was very particular re the charts. No scribbling on the edges etc. etc - all calculations had to be done on scrap paper. The 2nd Mate used paper collars which you could buy in those days for 2/6 a dozen. You just discarded them when they were soiled.
At dinner one night, as we approached the Straits of Gibraltar the captain invited the 12 passengers to visit the bridge at about half past midnight to view the Straits on the radar. The 2nd Mate hatched a cunning plan to wind him up.
He removed all scrap paper from the chart table leaving only the dividers, parrallel ruler etc and when the passengers crowded into the small chartroom he went up on the monkey island to take bearings and came clattering down the vertical ladder muttering - South 14 East, North 67 East etc . It was neccessary of course in those days to write down the bearings and correct them for variation and deviation before laying them off on the chart.
The passengers and the master stood aside in the small passage between the chart table and the settee and the 2nd Mate pretended to hunt for something to write down the bearings, getting more and more agitated.
He then suddenly tore off his paper collar and wrote down the bearings on it whilst the captain and passengers looked on in awe.
Later in the voyage he wound the "old man" up again. On the 12 to 4 one afternoon he was aware that the captain who was strolling on his deck below the bridge was keeping an eye on him through the gaps in the awnings. They were in sight of land and the 2nd Mate was taking bearings occasionally.
He took a cancelled chart from the bottom drawer and placed it on top of the proper one. He then went up and pretended to take bearings and came down
and went into the chartroom ( the door was to the side behind the wheelhouse). He pretended to try and lay off the bearings, rubbed them out, scratched his head, laid them again and rubbed them off again. By this time the "old man" was taking an interest and was watching through the gaps.
2nd mate then pretended to be exasparated and picked up the chart and tore it to bits. Captain come haring up from below shouting - "what are you doing"
The 2nd Mate looked suprised ansd said he was just getting rid of some old charts.

Geoff_E
27th January 2009, 22:38
An interesting thread this. I spent all my time at sea with paper charts but times are changing. As has been very persuasively argued, the problems with digital charting systems lie mainly with the users rather than the product. It is inevitable that the accuracy and reliability of these systems will improve year-on-year; it is imperative therefore, that the training of the operator improves with them! One, perhaps partial, answer may be to introduce the requirement to demonstrate an appropriate level of competence in the use of an electronic charting system into STCW examinations.

I am wary however, that total reliance on digital rather than analogue charts will further exacerbate the mediocre standards of "visual" watchkeeping which now appear to be the norm. How often, in coastal waters, is the watchkeeper merely transferring a GPS position onto the chart every 30 minutes or so, rather than actually "looking out" and taking bearings of the visible navigation marks around them (and in the process, perhaps subliminally, taking in the entire seascape - traffic, weather etc. The appreciation and analysis of all of these things combine to constitute the " keeping of a proper navigational watch")?

I'll answer that myself; it doesn't happen anywhere near often enough! General watchkeeping standards are in slow, but steady decline.

bulkcarrier
27th January 2009, 22:43
As an ex-USN Navigator..and a student of celestial navigation..I must say, this is an interesting decision. If one reads the "American Parctical Navigator", by N. Bowditch (slang for the book is "Bowditch"), no one will rely upon only one navigational source to make a decision to guide his vessel, is clearly stated. To rely on electronics alone, would be quite incompetant I would venture to say. Technology is here to stay, I am one for it, but safety is of the utmost importance, and I for one, would not venture to sea without a Nautical Almanac, HO 229, and a properly adjusted sextant! The sea is an "Unforgiving Mistress"..we should all remember that! Just remember RA=360 degrees-SHA..you should be set!

Best Regards,

Galen

Bill Davies
27th January 2009, 22:45
As an ex-USN Navigator..and a student of celestial navigation..I must say, this is an interesting decision. If one reads the "American Parctical Navigator", by N. Bowditch (slang for the book is "Bowditch"), no one will rely upon only one navigational source to make a decision to guide his vessel, is clearly stated. To rely on electronics alone, would be quite incompetant I would venture to say. Technology is here to stay, I am one for it, but safety is of the utmost importance, and I for one, would not venture to sea without a Nautical Almanac, HO 229, and a properly adjusted sextant! The sea is an "Unforgiving Mistress"..we should all remember that! Just remeber RA=360 degress-SHA..you should be set!

Best Regards,

Galen

Impressed!! Bowditch was one of the few publication whic showed how to work Lunars. Is that the case in the current editions?

joebuckham
27th January 2009, 22:58
In the Chilean fjords on the Royal Princess the electronic charts showed us sailing half a mile inland. The master said it was because the charts went back to Beagle days in the 1830's. I would have thought that with satellites etc the charts would have been updated by now!

hi sidsal
i seem to remember on a sailing holiday a few years back that there was a warning on each chart that the positions determined by the survey, on which the chart was based, differed with the gps position by so many minutes / seconds of named lat and long and adjustments should be made accordingly (Thumb)

bulkcarrier
27th January 2009, 23:00
LOL..I guess I showed my age! Yes the current edition, which I have both in hard copy, as well as digital, is just like the first.. The electronic chapters are what continue to update.. It is very interesting to hear the "youngers" talk like what is now is "unbeatable" in the real world..however, I watch my sons "freak out" when power goes out in s snow storm..heck, in my day, that was GREAT sledding weather! HA HA! Hs/ - Dip/ = Ha/ Alt corr/ = Ho. I bet the youngers don't know what I am talking about now!! Remember..the Titanic was "unsinkable"....

Best Regards,
Galen

fred henderson
28th January 2009, 19:57
The BBC report from on-board the brand-new Type 45 Destroyer HMS Daring pointed out that for all its vast array of electronic equipment, paper charts are still on the Royal Navy bridge as back-up.

Fred(Thumb)

ray bloomfield
29th January 2009, 12:55
I use electronic charts whenever possible (not approved) backed up with current paper charts available. To be able to see where the ship is heading, set and drift etc. instead of having to keep marking a paper chart is a Godsend in the waters where I'm at present trading, Irish Sea, North Channel and in the Clyde Estuary.

McCloggie
29th January 2009, 13:31
I believe that it is not just the Dutch who have approved electronic chart systems but the IMO who have approved the use of ECDIS facilities.

As has been said, there are many advantages of electronic systems not least of which is updating/correcting but it does seem like a good seaman-like precaution to have the basic paper charts as well.

I was always told that the elctronic gadgets werė "navigational aids" and RN standards called for full pilotage navigation using traditional visual methods anyway. I can also remember occasions releiving watchkeepers who have relied on electronic equipment which has been wrong for whatever reason and where a simple look out the bridge window at the passing coastline would have shown that something was wrong.

To be fair to the electronic equipment though, it was probably wrong because said watchkeeper did not know how to operate it properly in the first place!

McC

ray bloomfield
29th January 2009, 16:17
I have tried to make my electronics chart give an inaccurate position and the only way I have found this possible is to manualy to feed in an offset, then said display shows DR in big red letters and if the GPS goes down it either locks the display or put the ship on the equator and zero latitude. Even the cheapest system is better than no system. In my opinion anyway but progress is progress, like someone else said when steam engines were first installed in ships sail were still carried in case of breakdowns, but nowadays they dont install two engines in case one goes down.

Steve Woodward
29th January 2009, 16:23
Never sailed on a ship with electronic charts but berthed a couple in the run up to ditching paper charts.
The set up those ships had was a pair of independent ECDIS displays, each with it's own battery back-up to provide power for a few hours should the power fail and ( the bit I like) each was connected to a Sat-C and at the touch of a button could down-load chart corrections automatically.
Come on all you ex 2/0's who would not have given their right arm for that little feature when faced with a small mountain of NTM's at the end of a 7 week voyage

ray bloomfield
29th January 2009, 16:29
What are chart corrections Steve?

Chemical Brother
28th February 2009, 19:27
I/we just love the ECDIS system and we are just waiting for the last formalities before the system is approved. Will be nice to get rid of the paper charts. It“s much more safer to use then a paper chart. Now You have it in front of You. With paper chart You have to look out, check the radar/bearing and then walk 1/2 meter or mor to the chart. With ECDIS you look out of the window, look at the ECDIS and compare, right?

borderreiver
28th February 2009, 19:40
I have been using ECDIS for the last 10 years.
now with AIS on the screen it even better but you must understand how your systems works to get the best out of it

duquesa
28th February 2009, 20:12
I've been reading back through this thread. When in the past two decades, part from cruise liners and ferries, did a steward make a bunk?? (Apart from his own)

JimC
1st March 2009, 14:44
I was told that during time of conflict USA would shut down civilian access to their satallite network to deny enemy use. That would be a bit of a pain. Fog, & no signal.

It is also a very useful negotiating tool during trade wars. "He who laughs last, laughs longest".

What about insurance? presumeably those who take the risk do not class it as such. I've never known any of these people to actually and knowingly take a risk!

lakercapt
1st March 2009, 17:35
What are chart corrections Steve?

Remember those publications called "Notice to Mariners" and after a long passage you would be handed a dozen or so and the work began. Only good part was the cut outs that had to be pasted on.
Light lists for the 3rd mate and radio for sparkie.
Now its a disc.

sidsal
1st March 2009, 17:50
How times have changed." Notices to Mariners" could be real time consuming business for the 2nd Mate. I joined a tanker - the OWYHEE just after ww2 - she had been transferred from the US flag to that of Panama. The master (and Mate) who were permanently drunk had been on for several voyages. I found the charts were completely uncorrected and on approaching Ushant in thick weather the sparks and I were trying to get radio bearings. We found the books were out of date and we couldn't recognise the RDF bearings.
After 3 voyages I walked off the ship in le Havre fearing for my ticket through sailing with such people. ( the Chief Engineer was similarly under the influence most of the time).
An amusing pastime was using the US forms which had been left on the ship.
One pad of forms had -
"I.........., master of this ship find that you....................... are failing in your duties inthe following respect -......................................
I look forward to an immediate improvement.
Signed....................... Master.
We used to drop these chits off to all and sundry with all sorts of wierd failings specified.

Nick Balls
1st March 2009, 18:36
The problems with electronic charting systems are more to do with failure to recruit and adequately train competent navigators to use them. Nothing is foolproof, but if systems are monitored by personnel with sufficient training, failures will be picked up.
Employing poorly trained screen watchers will lead to disaster (again and again).
Professional pilots spend a lot of their time in highly expensive simulators training for the moment when the systems will fail.

Dave M.
Having seen the installation of the latest standard ECDIS set up , I could not agree more. Whist being excellent systems the problem is that you can spend two hours training a monkey to drive one and get away with it. This problem of insufficient training has been with us for years and have in reality made the misuse/misunderstanding of the limitations of systems like GPS common place. I would not wish to go back to the days of steam. I do However think that Shipping companies being what they are will continue to induce some very bad incidents with regard to these systems.
The worst of it is having people promoting this stuff who whist wielding the power seem completely ignorant on the real skills required to safely navigate a ship. My particular pet hate is the bloke who comes to fit this stuff, casually nails the GPS antenna in the wrong place, puts the monitors where you can't see them and then pontificates about the marvelous capabilities before strolling of the ship . This kind of behavior will I fear lead to tragedy.

ray bloomfield
7th March 2009, 14:03
Remember those publications called "Notice to Mariners" and after a long passage you would be handed a dozen or so and the work began. Only good part was the cut outs that had to be pasted on.
Light lists for the 3rd mate and radio for sparkie.
Now its a disc.

I dont do the chart corrections but the mate insists that its easier now with the tracings, but easier still with a download or a CD. Providing as stated before that the user knows how to use the system correctly.
How many of the 'old school' has marked their position on a paper chart in the wrong place. Errors will happen whatever system is used.
Was there the similar things said when gyro compasses were first introduced?

gas_chief
7th March 2009, 15:37
I grew up with the GPS. But I cannot imagine working without paper chats till the nuts in the office install ECDIS systems with screens that are large enough and have a greater ease of panning around. I have been working with the new stuff for a while now, but I love the paper charts, especially when coming into port when I can look up any corner of the chart and don't have to press 2 keys simultaneously to move the chart around, whilst doing 10 other different things directly or indirectly.

I know that there are better systems out there which are more user friendly, but the day when the accountants in the office invest more into giving us quality stuff is when things will start to get better. That I am sorry to say seems far far far......... away.

Mike Boyle
8th March 2009, 22:50
http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources/CFL_Performer_Synopsis.pdf

This case illustrates perfectly what can go wrong on a chartless ship, Dutch, naturally no Dutchmen aboard.

I have used Microplot ARCS for the last 12 years, integrated with radar, GPS, Log, Gyro and now AIS. A perfect presentation of an Admiralty chart in front of you at the con, ideal for pilotage and anti collision.

ECDIS vector charts have different symbols and colours, information can be turned off and on. The systems I have seen are horribly complicated.

One thing remains the same in any system, paper or otherwise, if the operator does not know what he is looking at the ship will be in peril.

I personally would always choose an ARCS system combined with paper. A paper chart gives the full overview, not just a 19 inch summary.

borderreiver
8th March 2009, 23:47
This gets into the P button systemwhich will bring everything to a default disply.
us older hands have the advanges in knowing what a paper
has on it but the younger hands know the ecdis system much better

sparkie2182
12th March 2009, 01:17
how many "layers" of info does a modern ECDIS have approximately?

TIA

Mike Boyle
12th March 2009, 12:47
http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/pdfs/pdf_wreck_buoy.pdf

Try marking a new danger on an electronic chart and see how easy it is to poke a big circle round it with a large exclamation mark.

Pencils are low tech but very user friendly!

This of course assumes that there is somebody on the bridge listening to the radio, looking at the navtex, looking out of the windows or in the case of the Tricolour down below watching the TV.

borderreiver
12th March 2009, 17:05
A good ECIDS system will let you a crcle around with ex mark

gas_chief
23rd March 2009, 16:04
Just came off the bridge a short while back where I took 15 minutes to plot a box on the ECDIS for the OOW's to steam around while waiting for the pilot. It took me 3 minutes to do the same thing on a paper chart. So which is better?