Boating Tips - GPS
Learn must have tips and advice from The Encyclopedia of Boating Tips. In this video,you'll learn about GPS.
GPS or the Global Postioning System consists of 24 orbiting satellites situated 11,000 miles in space and in six different orbital paths. The most important feature of a GPS is that it gives a boater his exact position. GPS units are cheap and come in a variety of models that suit lake users or warm cruisers. Some models have so many features that you can easily spend half a day just reading the manual. A simple handheld unit is fine for small craft use or can serve as a backup on large vessels. Cruising yachts usually have Fixed Mount units that have built-in chartplotting capabilities. An external antenna is required, as the GPS signals need a clear path from the satellite. Also don't mount your antenna too close too or below a radar antenna. Your GPS can even interface with an onboard computer for the ultimate and on-screen navigation. As with most electronics onboard, be sure to buy a waterproof model and one with a screen you can easily read if you mount it in the cockpit area. Installing a GPS is within the range of someone with average construction skills.
If your cruising ground is offshore then you should consider installing an SSB On-board. Depending on the time of day and general atmospheric conditions, your range can literally be worldwide. Your SSB can be used to send and receive e-mail, download weather faxes as well as to contact other cruisers. SSB or Single Side Band radios are far more complex to install than a VHF. Special consideration has to be given to an antenna tuner, location of a long antenna and most importantly a good ground system. All of this can be very specialized and beyond the ability of the average boater. It's far better to have your SSB installed professionally.
Radars are found on many more yachts today due to their smaller size, increased features and lower cost. Radar has the great ability to become your eyes when navigating in a dense fog or the darkness of night. Radars consist of 2 basic parts; the display and the antenna. Radio energy streams off the rotating antenna towards various targets. The time it takes for reflected signals to return together with the position of the rotating antenna allows the radar to create a blip on a display screen. That blip identifies the position and range of the target relative to the vessel. Radar is extremely useful in navigation because it not only identifies other vessels but displays landmasses and tricky passes with uncanny accuracy. Yachtsmen with
advance skills can install radars but a final check should be performed by a marine
A VHF or Very High Frequency radio is the best way for boaters to communicate. Typically, you can expect a range at full power of about 10 miles for powerboats and 15 to 20 for sailboats. This is because VHF is a line of side signal and the higher the antenna the greater the range. Boaters monitor Channel 16 and switch to a mutually agreed-upon working channel after making contact. Keep your communications as short as possible as or just a fewer working channels. VHF is the primary safety tool for communicating with the coastguard as well as other boaters. The coastguard monitors Channel 16 24 hours a day. Recently Channel 9 has been used for hailing, radio checks and most marina use, especially in parts of the great lakes and the Sinclair and Detroit Rivers. Bridge Tenders in Florida also use channel 9. NOAA uses Channels 1 through 7 for weather broadcasts. The coastguard uses channel 22 for emergency transmissions once directed to switch from channel 16. Marine operators use channels 24 through 28 and 84 through 88 to connect you to a land base line. In some cruising areas, such as the Bahamas, VHF is used almost in place of a telephone. You must get used to local customs when wintering outside the United States. Be sure to carry handheld VHF in your dinghy. It's the best way to call for assistance if you get lost when aground or have engine failure.
VHF radios come in two basic varieties; Fixed Mount units that are typically 25 watts in strength and handheld units that are 5 watts strong. Both units can switch to 1 watt strength for using close quarters. Unless you travel overseas or have an SSB onboard, you do not need a license to operate a VHF radio.
Digital Selective Calling or DSC is a relatively new feature on VHF radios. Channel 70 is reserved for digital transmissions. The coastguard will not have full DSC capabilities until about 2005 and only a few boats are equipped with this feature in 2001. Channel 16 gives boaters a choice of 3 types of emergency message transmissions depending on the severity of the emergency. For life and death emergencies only transmit a Mayday message for a lesser emergency say siding a waterspout. Use the pan-pan signal. Finally use a securite message for giving others information about a possible concern. For example, this could be a situation involving a large vessel entering a narrow harbor entrance. You will be in big trouble for issuing a false Mayday message. The coastguard will want to be reimbursed for the cause of the false rescue. Assume tens of thousands here, and possible criminal charges may be filed against you.
A Mayday call can be sent when situations such as these occur, a crew member
has been lost overboard, a medical emergency exist, your vessel is actually sinking
on fire or about to be smashed to pieces on nasty rocks. Simply being lost or a drift
because of fuel or engine problems is not a Mayday situation. Teach everyone aboard how to use the VHF radio.
Here is how to send a Mayday Message. Substitute your boat name, position, and type of emergency in the place of what follows. Switch your VHF to channel 16 and make sure it's on high power transmission. Say these words slowly, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is the vessel Summer Wind, Summer Wind, Summer Wind. My position is 2 miles south of Crab Cay. We have an engine room fire and need immediate assistance. Mayday, Summer Wind" and wait for a reply.
Portable computers are found on many cruising yachts. Yachtsmen use them for everything from e-mail to navigation. You can even hookup a small video camera in your engine room and have the image displayed on your laptop. Saltwater and laptops don't mix. So, be sure to keep yours well protected.
There are charts available on CDs for every possible cruising area. Using your
computer, you can store a host of navigation information in your personalized
database as well as printout a specialized chart for a quick dinghy ride. For
most small cruisers, a cellphone is all that's needed provided cell service is
available in the areas you want to cruise. If you have a larger yacht and stay at marinas often then it's better to have a permanent phone system installed. Most
mariners provide phone service hookups for reasonable fees. For the ultimate in communications, you can't beat a portable satellite phone that's also a
Cellphone. You can now communicate anywhere in the world and even receive short emails right on the phone.
If you want to know how deep the water is over the fish-yard, you basically have two choices. One, to obtain a depth reading, just throw a rope with a heavy object attached to one end overboard and then measure the wet section of the rope and for finding fish, simply stick a glass bottom bucket overboard in crystal clear water and observer them, okay, maybe your second choice is a lot easier. Simply install a depth sounder fishfinder. They are now extremely affordable and give an amazing amount of bottom contour information as well as everything in between. Fishfinders work by sending out sound waves through a transducer that's positioned under your boat. The sound waves get reflected off the bottom or from a fish and the echo was returned to the transducer. The fishfinder then displays what the transducer has seen. It's very important to install the transducer properly. On outboard boats, it's an easy matter for the advanced skill boater to install one on the transom. On larger inboard boats that need a thru-hull transducer, the vessel must be hauled into the strongly recommended that the both you are perform this operation. If installed incorrectly, a thru-hull transducer can sink your boat.
Autopilots were once considered a luxury, now hardly a cruising vessel is without one. As recent technological advances have made them extremely reliable and inexpensive, autopilot manufactures are your best source of advice in choosing the right size and type of autopilot for your particular vessel. Factors such as hull type, weight, length and helm resistance play a big part in making the correct choice.
Some basic questions that you need to answer are is your steering mechanical or
hydraulic. If you are using hydraulic steering, what size ram and pump do you need, do you have a sailboat or powerboat, is your powerboat displacement or planing, finally what is the displacement and the length of your vessel? There are also many options that you may want to consider such as a handheld remote control, large
capability and off course alarm, a watch alarm and a crew overboard function.
Your GPS can interfaced to an autopilot very easily for the ultimate and keeping a
correct course in shifting wind and current conditions.
These inexpensive two-way radios work well for the family boater. It's easy to keep
track of crew when ashore or when off onshore dinghy rides. Range is usually
about one to two miles. Large yachts use them for communication between crew
and skipper in darking situations.
CB radios are not used very often aboard boats since needed the coastguard or too many other boaters monitor them. Also their range is limited and very few are robust enough for use in the marine environment. Just about every cruiser has some form of electronic entrainment aboard, TV reception is easy to get if you are within the range of a transmitting station and you have an outside antenna. Mount your antenna as high as possible. In the marina, most facilities have cable TV hookup. So it's a snap to get loads of channels.
Satellite antennas are getting popular not that they have shrunk in price, size and weight. However a fully stabilized system will still set you back about $5000 without installation. The big pay off is hundreds of channels if digital video well underway in the Bahamas or when stuck in a lonely anchorage by bad weather for days at a time.
Boating Tips - GPS
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