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Old 01-30-2015, 10:42   #16
JJ_BPK
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BK

Spot Lights, any good brand is OK. You need at least two, maybe 3. One to plug into the boats power and back-ups on battery. If you lose the boat batteries for any reason, you need a back-up to flag down other boats, sea-tow or USCG..

I've been off the water for a couple yrs, but I can give you some pointers on night nav in the waters of the Keys & Florida Straights that should apply anywhere.

1)most people think their gps is accurate within a couple feet. I think most are good for 10ft, these days. This is good if you are on land nav walking..


Not so on boats. The default to most gps machines is to take a position every 3-10 seconds, then update the screen plot. Sometimes it's longer, so you can backtrack, say 3 hrs of trolling data. I remember old gps that only recorded on one(1) minute intervals, so you could backtrack a complete days voyage to get home that nite. Sounds good, the plot looks like a straight line, BUT...

Calculate the distance you cover in 10 sec running you boat at say 35 mph?? It works out to be around 100 ft.

This means that if you are in a channel that is 100 ft wide and you are very good captain, 10 seconds of error will put you in the dry spot.

If the gps does not do full time recalc, it is not good for moving at any speed, even during the day. It is not useless, just not to be considered the prime tool for night nav.

2)Even with the best gps,, you need a spotter for the garbage floating in the water.

So,, you have the best gps to be purchased, it has the latest maps and all nav points,, BUT

In the Keys, we have crab & lobster traps most of the year. The rope used on the floats will do big damage in your prop & possibly trash the lower. Sea Tow is a very expensive back-up.

Offshore in the Florida Straights you can find garbage as big as shipping containers, but most of it is light weight plastics, buckets, plywood, telephone poles, & lumber like 8ft 2x4's. None of which is good for props. At one time Sea-Two had a limit for offshore recovery, after xx miles it was a USCG problem.

Another reason for a full time spotter is the reaction time and the captains time studying the gps or maps. Look away for 10 sec,, another 100ft off course.

GPS's are good, but they have limits..

Someone might say use radar, it's also good,, with limits.. A 8ft 2x4 floating 1/4inch out of the water is not going to be seen..

One last point,, make sure your spotter has good night vision. I do, but I have friends that can't fine their willy in the john with the lights off...

Good luck..
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:47   #17
JimP
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Guys - when I was down at Key West I took a Maritime navigation course from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. VERY professional and informative. I used to routinely run my boat off the Marqueses and all over the Keys. The instruction and techniches were essential. NEVER felt that I didn't know where I was or where I needed to go. Multiple tracking mechanisms and accurate route plotting - key. I got good maps, prepped them as we would an operational tactical map (without the security issues) and had all sorts of alternatives if things went to shit.

Trailored the boat up north and ran it off Cape Cod and around nantucket without a worry. I highly recommend taking the course. Those guys were VERY good teaching the course. It was challenging.
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Old 01-30-2015, 19:25   #18
Giuseppe
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Water Navigation Aid

A good tool for learning maritime navigation is, Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us: Finding Your Way By Eye and Electronics, by Bill Brogdon. I used it to prep for a MAROPS course, and it was a great aid in learning the basics of over-the-horizon navigation.

Best part; you can find a used copy on Amazon for $0.01 plus shipping.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:02   #19
BryanK
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Thank you all for the tips. I'll be boating primarily at the mouth of the Potomac River and some parts of the Chesapeake Bay. I've grown up around these waters, but we never navigated too far away from the dock (<1 mile) in these areas before. Mainly just smaller river fishing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by craigepo View Post
...What kind of boat are you getting?
Just a little 17' Aries bass boat with a 70hp Mercury. Nothing with a cabin unfortunately.
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