No GPS, Rocks + Fog = damaged boat

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  #1  
Old 12-02-08, 03:50 PM
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No GPS, Rocks + Fog = damaged boat

Well, (we've had our used boat now only 4 months) my son took our 18 foot boat out in the Santa Monica-Marina Del Rey Bay - in the fog last night to fish - no gps, only a fish finder with depth. It was clear when he started but later the fog really came in. By 7pm he ran into some rocks that were unmarked near the Hyperion (near LAX) - He knew he was in trouble when he saw white water breaking right in front of him on a calm sea - Well two hours later, surrounded by the fog, unable to know which direction to go, he thew the anchor over and waited for the Lifeguard to tow him back to MDR (at least he had a radio, and a cell phone). Just 2 questions - 1. Why aren't these rocks marked? They were in 50-60 feet of water. We could not find a map that had them marked either. The lifeguards said it happens there all the time. You can actually see the rocks on Google Earth, but not from the sea. 2. What reasonable GPS would you suggest? - this is a local boat, not going too far, but we really need one. Help! - Thanks so much!
 
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  #2  
Old 12-02-08, 05:31 PM
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It depends on where you live. For instance, many areas may not mark obstructions less than 200'.

"Out in the Santa Monica-Marina Del Rey Bay - in the fog last night to fish - no gps, only a fish finder with depth. It was clear when he started but later the fog really came in. By 7pm he ran into some rocks that were unmarked near the Hyperion (near LAX)."

Sounds like anyone would be taking a chance under those conditions unless they were experienced and knew the area like the back of their hand.

Not high tech here, but GPS is only as good as the info fed into the system locally. Again, not high tech, but one would think that there would be radar systems available, not talking about the ones that detect fish, but one that would detect obstructions.

"The lifeguards said it happens there all the time." Did he admonish for not being an experienced boater in the area or for being in the area during poor visibility and/or after dark? "We've had our used boat now only 4 months." Hello?

Historically, that's how many cashed in on ships that ran ashore under less than desirable conditions, especially where there were no lighthouses, and much booty and many treasures were confiscated.

You should be proud that your son survived and did not succumb to worse under such conditions. It sounds like both you and your son need more experience with these waters during optimal conditions and to learn some lessons about being on water in less than optimal conditions. These lessons extend beyond a GPS system which may/may not show all your local obstructions. Sophisticated Google Earth may show these, but GPS systems may not.

It is extremely important to know the waters, weather forecast, and obstructions. It is important to carry a spot light. It is important to go very slowly and be ready to turn if meeting an obstruction. Boating safety -- Navigating at night

You got off lucky this time. Be prepared for next time. Watch the weather and the time that you and/or son are out on the water. No GPS system can protect you if you do not do your own homework. No GPS system is infallible.

I don't drive after dark any more. I simply can't see unless driving in a well-lighted area and the road has freshly painted lines. No GPS would protect me during heavy rain on a coal dust covered road during rain where no white lines are visible and no lighting. It's like driving in the dark even in the middle of the day and a storm. GPS in autos only marks the trail of travel and the route. It does not show that you are approaching a areas of coal-fired plants and that the coal trucks and the coal dust have covered over or worn off any white lines on highway.

Fog on water and fog on roads and obstructions along the way are not available on GPS. Again, obstructions in waterways tend to be limitedly marked as far as distance from shore. GPS on highways do not indicate any obstructions along the edge of the road, because it is not anticipated that anyone will venture off the mainway, just as on water.

Again, know when and where you are going. Watch weather and time. Get home before dark. Get home before the fog and the weather and waves or other challenging conditions set in.

Many areas offer boating classes. Check with local boating associations.

Become familiar with state boating laws. Become familiar with boating safety. http://www.boatingsafety.com/ and involve your son.

I am very proud that your son successfully handled the situation. This is a cool kid. Give him a zillion hugs.

The both of you need some boating training. If you both train together, it will give the two of you some wonderful quality time together and may shared moments. Just be safe! Watch the time, the weather conditions, and familiarize yourself with the area. Weather forecasters are often wrong, so learn some techniques to forecast your own weather. Become one with the earth in your area.
 

Last edited by twelvepole; 12-02-08 at 05:52 PM.
  #3  
Old 12-07-08, 08:32 AM
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I had hoped someone with experience on marine GPS would come along but I will give you my take.

No matter what type of GPS you use, if the rocks are not shown on charts you will have to mark these obstructions yourself.
My experience is with topo software and currently use a Garmin 76 CS which is now replaced by a 76CSx.

Click image:

Image courtesy of garmin.com

This model would be excellent for marine use as it floats, has a built in barometer and magnetic compass which would be good for land or vehicle use with the right software.
It takes SD memory cards that you could switch from marine to topo sofware quite quickly.

To use this for your problem with the rocks and if you have the obstructions marked on a map, you could establish the lat and long then transfer this postion(s) to the GPS.
If you then travel to the area by boat you could carefully approach the obstructions and then take a more precise reading and mark them with the current GPS position.

As the accuracy most times is 10 meters or better if you can receive the WAAS correction signal, you should have no trouble marking the hazard.

What I like about this GPS unit is you can use it anywhere as opposed to a dedicated marine unit.
I have learned the most about operating it in a vehicle as you have a lot of time on trips to try things out.

Have you looked at any units yet?
 
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Old 12-07-08, 02:45 PM
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i have a garmin gps 378 it is for both marine and surface road use, seems to be very good so far (2months) but still you might have problems with small features not being marked, it has topo capabilitys but is only as good as the maps loaded onto it.
have not used it in marine mode yet but the surface road features work very well.

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  #5  
Old 12-09-08, 01:14 PM
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The Garmin w/ photo you showed was one that was suggested. There is a CD that can be purchased, to download maps, right? - Thanks so much for all your help!
 
  #6  
Old 12-09-08, 01:22 PM
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Thank you for your great perspective. Practice and experience makes all the difference. After we get some more experience, (and we are working on a bigger boat) he plans to go over to Catalina. Other than early AM, Calm weather and planning to return next morning to avoid afternoon swells, and after the purchase of a gps and some navigation and charting homework is there any other practical information to avoid a disaster? I have heard that there is a lot of traffic crossing from Long Beach to Catalina. Thanks in Advance - !
 
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Old 12-09-08, 01:41 PM
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There are several different marine maps available for Garmin and you would do well to visit a GPS dealer who might make a suggestion as to what would be best in your area.
The "Blue Chart" map series says it shows obstructions........would be interesting to see if it includes yours.

If anything will keep you out of trouble it will be knowledge, experience and common sense.

A yacht club is a good place to start and I am sure they offer courses that are not too expensive.
Someone who has experience in the area you want to navigate would be invaluable.
 
  #8  
Old 12-09-08, 01:59 PM
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Do you think a dashboard mounted vs hand held makes a difference? - We are leaning toward the dashboard mounted, any thoughts on the two kinds?
 
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Old 12-09-08, 07:13 PM
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A hand held is dash mount when you buy a mounting kit.
I have a single mount and use velcro to fasten it to the boat console or car dash.
It will just pop out of the mount and go into the pocket while in the woods.

If you buy a larger dash mount you would not be able to do this but it depends on what you want to do and how much you want to spend.

Regardless of which type you get there will be a fair bit of learning to be proficient at using it.
 
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