Blue Boat, way to go in Dam

Amsterdam Blueboat cPanbo

Good day. My fourth METS show in six years (starts tomorrow), but the first with my (fairly) patient wife along, and the first day that I’ve gotten out on the Amsterdam canals or even seen much blue sky here (in November). We got a ticket for a Blue Boat tour with our B&B, and that turned out lucky too. They seemed the most handsome and woody of all the tour boats, and our particular skipper hardly used the computerized “guide” (the mini PC screen upper right) in favor of his own patter and custom mix tape, both slightly cracked. His nav equipment? A Furuno GPS mainly displaying SOG, and a VHF that he used to keep in touch with the home office or, above, query an arrogant tug who cut him off cold. And mind you he’s driving a single screw vessel about 60’ long—no thruster, no deck hand—negotiating lots of traffic, and numerous bridges with barely a foot or two of leeway either side. His main safety tool seemed to be that rear view mirror over his left soldier and the mirrors strategically placed at many of the blind canal intersections. Not that a collision would cause any real harm. Great skipper; good day.
  And tomorrow, like Tuesday a year ago, should begin with a passel of Garmin press releases. What do you think…15” displays?…instruments?…Garmin branded auto pilot?

PS, 11/13: Well, Garmin introduced all the above…quite neatly too. The GMI 10 instrument is sort of like an ST70, only brighter and less pricey I think, and will accept most any NMEA 2000 or 0183 data. The GHP 10 autopilot to my pleasant surprise is also N2K, and Garmin will have its own N2K GPS, an N2K fuel flow meter, an N2K ‘smart’ depth transducer, and its own N2K cabling, plug compatible with DeviceNet but supposedly less expensive. Another good day in progress.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

4 Responses

  1. DefJef says:

    Have you any comment on the SF oil spill collision?
    Can you comment on how the position of these huge vessels is actually fixed? A GPS will give the position of the antenna and since these vessels are so large a POINT is hardly a position in the case of these huge vessels.
    How do they plot their actual “footprint” on charts and calibrate a single point to accurately convey the SCALE of things… especially for navigating in harbors like SF Bay?

  2. Eliboat says:

    I believe they have multiple antenna units that can account for the size of a boat, and there are also units available that can factor in the boat envelope relative to the antenna. Reading some of the comments that have emerged from the tragedy, it seems that there were a few things at fault here, none of them GPS related. According to the pilot, the radar on the Chinese vessel had been malfunctioning, so they did not have an accurate fix on the bridge span as they made their approach in the fog. The pilot asked the captain to point out the center of the span on their electronic chart, and he told the cpatain to head for it. He was under the impression that this is what the captain was headed for, but had no way to verify. There are AIS transponders marking the channel through the center of the bridge span, but since the radar was down, they could not access this either, though they should have seen it on the chart. From what I have read here, I was under the impression that pilots carry their own gear aboard with them to prevent issues with handling unfamiliar or malfunctioning equipment. Obviously they can’t bring a radar with them, but a handheld GPS would have shown the boat headed for the tower vs the center of the bridge.

  3. Mark Read says:

    Pilot blames faulty radar…”the Cosco Busan’s radar “conked out” twice – first before departure and again as the ship was near the lighthouse on Yerba Buena Island.
    Cota was forced to rely on an electronic chart display, showing the track of the vessel and its speed, plus charts of San Francisco Bay. Meadows said the pilot told him he was “not familiar” with the electronic system on the Cosco Busan. “They are all different,” Meadows said.
    Cota asked Mao Cai Sun, the captain of the Cosco Busan, to point on the display to the center of the bridge span between the Delta and Echo towers on the western side of the Bay Bridge.
    “The master pointed that out,” Meadows said. “In fact, several times during the trip. That’s what the pilot was heading for.”
    The channel between the two towers is 2,210 feet wide and is marked with a transponder device, which should have been picked up by radar or the electronic chart, mariners say. The channel is commonly used by large ships going to and from the Port of Oakland.
    “The pilot had to go along with what the master indicated on the electronic chart display was the center of the span,” Meadows said. “That turned out to be the tower instead.”
    From San Fran paper:

  4. saint says:

    The ‘tender tracker from Mother ship. was a great toy with a bonus of ‘safety’. but it priced out at $15k. plus notebook PC. In my ( ha ha ) spare time i am trying to incoporate a ‘sat.-phone’ design. or something cheaper to add to my Tenders for fun and as a selling feature. Does anyone know of a product more reasonably priced that exist ?

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