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    Trust your compass Eh Bob?-gctid377672

    I posted this story on another site. It happened long ago but the memories are as fresh as the day it happened.

    Don't want to clutter up Kevin's thread but this might be an interesting discussion about the "old" days.

    It wasn't my worst night on the water. That came the following year. That was the year I learned how small a 46' boat is and a game changer for me.

    I mentioned the compass being very accurate and it was. It took me years to get it that way. I used another compass that was installed in an area with no interference and it had no magnets in it for compensator's. I used range in line lights to verify its accuracy. Canada had a lot of them in those days.

    The story.

    In 1973 we made our usual 3 week vacation trip from Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron to the North Channel and Georgian Bay.

    Our usual route was up the Western side of Lake Huron through Mississauga Straights to Meldrum Day to check in Canadian Customs. Then across to the Northern part of North Channel, working our way East to Georgian Bay, to French River.

    Then down Georgian Bay to Tobermory and across and down Lake Huron to home.

    This year we made a change to South Baymouth which is the ferry port from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.

    The plan was to leave from South Baymouth down Lake Huron to home.

    We had a 46' Wooden Chris Craft.

    Well the weather didn't corporate and we got weathered in for a few days. While we waited we took the new Ferry from South Baymouth to Tobermory to have dinner, returning that night. It was the first year for the Chi Cheemaun. http://www.chicheemaun.com/chi/engli...ervations.html

    Well you know how it is when you have to be back to go to work. The weather wasn't good but we thought it wouldn't be that bad so we left in the evening after the Mafor weather which we could get every 6 hours.

    Of course the wind picked up and we were taking it on the beam. When we got to the opening where lake Huron and Georgian Bay met there was a long fetch and it was really bad.

    We had friends with us in their 38' Boat.

    He called and wanted to change directions as he was having a hard time of it. So were we for that matter.

    We were about 1/2 way in our 140 mile or so trip, all open water.

    These were the days before GPS or Loran. We had a compass (very accurate), a depth sounder, and a radar for Nav. aids. We had one other thing. It was called a Navilog which was a little wheel on the outside of the hull that turned a speedo. cable to an instrument on the dash that recorded speed and miles.

    It wasn't very accurate however but I had calibrated it over the years so I knew pretty much how much to factor the difference.

    I hated to change course in the middle of the lake and the middle of the night but I knew I had to.

    The only open harbor for us was across Lake Huron to Harrisville.

    I had a nice chart table on the bridge of the Chris Craft and I remember plotting my course, figuring our position with just our compass heading and that Navilog. I remember so well telling my wife we are right here and I plotted our new course and changed to it.

    Now we had a following sea and that Chris handled those seas well.

    We were towing a 14' McKee with a 55 hp outboard.

    Normally I would plot my course off one way or the other so when I saw land I would know for sure which way to go. That night I couldn't. I had to hit Harrisville.

    Suddenly I saw blips on my radar. What the heck is that as there was several. Studying my chart I saw there were buoys marking the water intake for the City of Saginaw, many miles to the South. They pumped their water from Lake Huron.

    I had to change course to avoid them.

    The best damn navigating I ever did. A perfect shot to the harbor. All is well.

    Almost.

    As I approached the harbor I shut down the engines to idle and my crew pulled in the tow so as not to tangle the tow line with the prop.

    One engine stalled. The entrance to the harbor looked very small and it really isn't. I tried to start the engine but no go.

    Then I heard a loud thump. The waves had picked up the MeKee and slammed it into the transom.

    I went in the harbor on one engine without a problem, tried to start the other engine and of course it fired right up.

    The harbor was big enough to anchor and we did.

    What my wife saw but didn't tell me was the McKee knocked out a nice mahogany plank from the transom.

    It was high enough not to be a problem and she didn't even bother to tell me until after we were anchored.

    Of course I had a plank to replace that fall.

    Doug
    Started boating 1955
    Number of boats owned 32
    Bayliners
    2655
    2755
    2850
    3870 presently owned
    Favorite boat. Toss up. 46' Chris Craft, 3870 Bayliner

    #2
    Ah, the days of compass navigation. In foggy Barkley Sound my buddy proudly proclaimed he could navigate the islands in pea soup solely by compass. He did well until he placed his huge stereo speakers on the dash and ended up 180 degrees from his plan.
    1989 26' then 1994 32' now 2001 39'

    Comment


      #3
      Some day i'll tell the story of placing a magnetized screwdriver next to mine in the dark and ending up 30 miles off course in an overnight crossing.

      Doug
      Started boating 1955
      Number of boats owned 32
      Bayliners
      2655
      2755
      2850
      3870 presently owned
      Favorite boat. Toss up. 46' Chris Craft, 3870 Bayliner

      Comment


        #4
        Damn! Old farts sure like to wax nostalgic about their triumphs of navigation back in the Olden Times.

        Yep - compass, chart, depth sounder and maybe a radio direction finder. Standing in the cockpit in the middle of the night trying to get a null on two radio beacons and a V.fix on that lighthouse off yonder. All in a cocked hat, so to speak. Good times on the West Coast. That was pretty high tech back then.

        Three foot fix accuracy? I was happy to be 'somewhere in the neighborhood'. Then of course came Loran which had the ability to get you at least on the right street. But you still had to keep your skills up and do your chart work but it was nice to have. Couldn't completely rely on it but it was a step up from RDF equipment.

        Then GPS became widely available. The first units I owned or worked with had the capability of showing latitude and longitude, COG and SOG. That was about it. Early GPS wasn't totally reliable either and god help the fool who took it as the gospel. Units gradually became better and better with more and more features and charting ability. So that's were we are today: full feature color displays on big screens with tons of information and calculations available. For an old fart who used to grind his teeth in the fog just hoping to get any proof of location - even just a bell off in the distance - todays' technology is truly wondrous. I never saw it coming LOL!

        Does anyone remember the old trick of going either high or low of your target intentionally? You appreciate that one after wandering around for half a day or so in the fog not sure if you need to turn right or turn left or just give up and wait it out.

        Comment


          #5
          I did that all the time. Shoot for error in one direction so you knew which way to when you saw land. I mentioned that in my story that I didn't do it that night. It was just to rough.

          When I got a radar it was a great tool. You knew how far off a target you were. The only problem was when the shore line didn't have any distinguishing change. If it was even it didn't help much.

          I had an RDF one time but never mastered it. We didn't have enough signals to make it work.

          I have to say I had a huge amount of luck over the years.

          Good memories.

          Its a good feeling to know you mastered this stuff with a compass. And the knowledge I could do it again if everything else failed.

          All that said, I love GPS.
          Started boating 1955
          Number of boats owned 32
          Bayliners
          2655
          2755
          2850
          3870 presently owned
          Favorite boat. Toss up. 46' Chris Craft, 3870 Bayliner

          Comment


            #6
            Have done a ton of navigation long distances including the fog with a paper chart, compass, and depth sounder. Try running from Broughton Island to Desolation Sound in pea soup fog sometime, hundred islands and about 120 plus miles-including 4 different rapids with currents up to 12 or more knots-if you hit the tide wrong. Still keep my compasses calibrated with a deviation table as you can not ever get them perfect for every direction. Hope it never happens, but someday in the fog, I may lose all my electonics, it has happened to others and I for one want to be prepared. Got into this habit doing predicted log racing in the late 70s early 80s. I like electronic, I love electronics, have always had the latest, but they can fail. I even have backups to the backups, I think I have 3 different independent gps chart plotters aboard including a throw away battery powered one and that doesn't include my cell phone which might be helpful.
            Started boating 1965
            Bayliners owned: 26 Victoria, 28 Bounty, 32, 38, and 47 since 1996

            Comment


              #7
              mmichellich wrote:
              Have done a ton of navigation long distances including the fog with a paper chart, compass, and depth sounder. Try running from Broughton Island to Desolation Sound in pea soup fog sometime, hundred islands and about 120 plus miles-including 4 different rapids with currents up to 12 or more knots-if you hit the tide wrong. Still keep my compasses calibrated with a deviation table as you can not ever get them perfect for every direction. Hope it never happens, but someday in the fog, I may lose all my electonics, it has happened to others and I for one want to be prepared. Got into this habit doing predicted log racing in the late 70s early 80s. I like electronic, I love electronics, have always had the latest, but they can fail. I even have backups to the backups, I think I have 3 different independent gps chart plotters aboard including a throw away battery powered one and that doesn't include my cell phone which might be helpful.
              I also have backups for the backups. I have 5 plotters between the upper and lower helm. I also have on on the tender that is interchangable.

              I always run 2 plotters, 1 zoomed in and one zoomed out.
              Started boating 1955
              Number of boats owned 32
              Bayliners
              2655
              2755
              2850
              3870 presently owned
              Favorite boat. Toss up. 46' Chris Craft, 3870 Bayliner

              Comment


                #8
                I grew up on the North Coast, on a 35 foot trawler that had an RDF, Compass, lots of charts and a good ships clock (which I still have). I was only a kid in the 70's, but my Father was genius at it.

                I remember him giving me orders - John, steer 286 for 35 minutes, then we are going to turn to port, come down to 175 for 22 minutes and we should be abeam Lucy Island. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was only 7 or 8 years old. Boating on the North Coast was like that, and the stories could go on and on and on. If we waited for weather, out of Prince Rupert B.C., we would have never left the dock.

                It is a lost art. And despite all the fancy electronic gear, I believe the best boaters are the ones that can do it on a compass, a good chart and a stop watch.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Did a Catalina race from SF back in the day, owner had an intercom system on the binnacle right next to the ritchie globemaster, real big magnet in the mouthpiece, we were off 16%, SSE. Finally figured out where we were 300 miles later doing a Noon fix and then the good ol RDF into LA. To this day I still carry a hocky puck compass in my sea bag (just in case)

                  I really love GPS now
                  www.boatyardgm.com
                  www.pacificyachtimports.net
                  2002 Carver Voyager 57
                  "Making Waves"
                  3988 250 Hinos
                  "The Dark Side"
                  Alameda, California

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There's a teardrop on my keyboard sniff sniff...God bless everyone who helped to invent GPS and make it available to everyone:worthAnd God bless all the mariners and navigators through the ages who developed the tools and techniques and taught us how to pilot small boats.

                    [img]/media/kunena/attachments/vb/681446=27255-Pictures 002.jpg[/img]Old School

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I think I have 3 different independent gps chart plotters aboard including a throw away battery powered one and that doesn't include my cell phone which might be helpful.
                      I have two chart plotters and my cell phone has Navionics, Marine Weather and 5 or 6 NOAA sea bouys as bookmarks. Imagine all that power in one small package. I'm always amazed at how far we've come with this stuff.

                      I also have a portable PC nav system with external GPS antenna running Maptech Offshore Navigator I put together some time ago. Absolutely amazing technology - one advance led to another and another.

                      But I still have my charts and tools tucked away just in case...you never know LOL!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I have mine also. And I always lay out the paper charts of the area I cruise. Not a Richardson but the real thing.

                        And I look at them too. You don't have to zoom them in to see all the detail.

                        One thing I am most proud of and I knock on wood saying this is except for trolling motors fishing, the last time I dinged a prop was in the late 50's.

                        I boat is a very harsh area with rocks and uneven water all over the place. And when I started boating here it was before some of the area was charted other than private party charts.

                        You learn caution but I also go in out of the way places where caution is still required. I don't trust to memory even now in most places I know well. And not all rocks are on the charts and not all charts are accurate.

                        Also there is one area I boat the GPS isn't accruate either. It always shows me anchored on the side of a mountain and my boat cruises along the side of a mountain also. In any GPS I have or had.

                        In the same area the charts show 6 feet of water near a group of rocks and a long ways out right where you have to make a turn. So all boats make a big turn around the area. There is actually 20 to 30 feet of water almost right up to the rocks.

                        The turn takes them close to some very nasty water. Coupled with the GPS being in error in the same area, I hold my breath on some of the turns boats make.

                        Of course the chart plotters show that same shallow water.

                        I learned to boat this area before there were charts. It is one of the most popular boating areas on Lake Huron yet they have never corrected this error from the first chart that was made about 1965.

                        Also there is a big rock in the center of the narrows. In high water most boats can clear it. The water isn't high now and a lot of sail boats hit it. A large power boat can also.

                        You won't see it on a chart unless you zoom in and the Richardson doesn't even show it.

                        A very large sailboat from Montreal hit it. He was confused where to go from there. I tried to get him to go in the deep water that shows 6'. He said but there is only 6 feet there. Of course he didn't believe me and his English wasn't the best so he made the big loop and I just went back fishing.

                        He made it though.

                        My favorite anchorage is right at that narrows and I have pulled a few sailboats off that rock and seen and heard others hit it.

                        I tried marking it and almost every damn boat went on the wrong side of the marker where the water is shallow. A large boat would be grounded. The rock is a bit off center actually and the deep part is at the narrow side of the rock.

                        That in spite of the marker being the right color. I removed it. It made matters worst. Just something the plotters don't show well and boaters don't have charts much any more. And don't understand Red Right Return either.

                        Doug
                        Started boating 1955
                        Number of boats owned 32
                        Bayliners
                        2655
                        2755
                        2850
                        3870 presently owned
                        Favorite boat. Toss up. 46' Chris Craft, 3870 Bayliner

                        Comment

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