Sunday, March 14, 2010


For about thirty five years now I've made a career in building and repairing things electronic. In fact I have not been posting as much recently because I am currently working full time helping to build an new HD TV control room facility for one of the TV networks. The money I make will allow me spend more time on the boat this season while others will spend more time in their living rooms watching the images that pass through the facility. I think I get the better part of that deal. I also know that at some point many of the state of the art electronic boxes I am installing will fail and/or become obsolete. This is something I also keep in mind when on my boat. It's been a little over a month since the Coast Guard has shutdown most of the LORAN transmitters in the U.S. forcing mariners to rely on the remaining electronic systems more and more. Capt. Brucato has some interesting comments at his NYTUGMASTER site about relying too much on the electronic systems on board your boat for navigating. Here are some of the money quotes:

The idea of plodding ahead without keeping track of where I’ve been and where I expect to be has not entered the equation since detailed voyage planning has been made part of our operational procedures. Whether I put a mark on the chart or make a note, there is a record of where I’ve been within the last 30 minutes to refer to. Be it a landmark, bearing and distance, L.O.P., or radar range and bearing.

Sooner or later, something will stop working as it should, and even if every layer of “e-redundancy” fails, one can still have enough recent data to discern a decent estimated position when all of the e-toys fail.

I concur and always make sure I have a paper chart out nearby in the cockpit with me and also on the table down below. Since things can fall overboard quite easily too. I also keep an ELDRIDGE TIDE and PILOT BOOK in the cockpit when undeway in my home waters. I also carry a few books on repairing some of the electric components and systems on board. One of my favorites is Nigal Calder's BOAT OWNER'S MECHANICAL and ELECTRICAL MANUAL. Which I often refer to for some type of information here and there during every season. While electronics are helpful to have on board. They are useless when they fail. In terms of reliability paper always seems to work. Whether it is a nautical chart or a book. Something to keep in mind while on board. In short it's important to have a backup plan and a sense of where you are.

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