Capt. Dan is an American Sailing Association certified instructor and runs a sail charter operation in Southern California.
I'm particularly interested in sailing (obviously) and ecology issues, particularly those affecting the Channel Islands here in Southern California
Database errors lead to loss of US Navy minesweeper in Philippines
Eight or ten years ago, when GPS and chart plotters had been perfected, the navy sent a ship to sea without paper charts.
That action wasn’t the usual navy way. As any midshipman will tell you “The Navy represents 200 years of tradition unimpeded by progress.”
Adopting GPS and chart plotters seemed like progress, and I applauded the action. Until today when I learned through nex.gov that we lost USS Guardian (no loss of crew) because National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency misplaced a reef in the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippine by roughly eight miles.
The reef was misplaced only on the digital version of the chart, and much was made of the fact that the watch standers did not refer to paper charts or the light list or some very telling aids to navigation (lights on the reef).
Paper charts would have been useful here, but the database from which they are derived is the same one as the digital charts. If they had what amounted to an out-of-date paper chart, they’d have had a good reference. That hardly seems like a useful lesson. In fact, I don’t think there is no overarching lesson here that would have saved them. However, it might have been useful to look out the window and analyze the scene with more care. The flashing lights might have given them a clue that the chart plotter wasn’t telling them everything they needed to know.
Scholarship fund and Recycling program — all in one place.
Rex Avila adds to the scholarship fund for Kids-on-the-dock
We all know Rex Avila is a great guy and he is the guy we trust to keep us informed about the seaworthiness of our boats, but who knew he was a philanthropist and environmentalist?
Here’s the proof. Oh yeah, it looks like a bunch of beer cans, but my friends, this is Rex’s Kids-on-the-Dock Scholarship Fund. And at the rate we’re drinking Rex’s beer the kids will be able to go to Harvard. Well, maybe Stanford.
If you’re drinking beer or anything else in an aluminum can and you’re near our dock (J dock in Vintage Marina), please make a contribution.
It’s slow work — and a lot of beer, but as Rex points out, we’ve got 15 years to get it done. Still, we can use your help.
Two of the largest critters on the planet — Blue Whales — surfaced right in front of us on our way back to Channel Islands Harbor.
The Blue Whale known as 747 bids us adieu on a final long dive
Two Blue Whales surfaced about a whale’s length from Sancerre on our way home yesterday. A whale’s length, in this case, being slightly more than a boat length.
You never see much more than half of the whale, unless they breach or they swim close enough to to be seen below the surface.
I initially ID’d them as Finback whales, but was corrected by an FB friend who actually “knows” this whale with the upturned fluke ends. He told us that she even has a name, actually a couple of names: Delta, 747 or the Blue Cadillac.
I prefer Blue Cadillac. I don’t know if her swim partner has a name.
The Blues have been hanging out close to the east end of Santa Cruz Island and the Humpbacks have been nearer Santa Barbara than our neck of the channel.
It’s a fluke (not a pun, but a double entendre) that we saw these beasts, first, because we never expected to see them here — they’ve been hanging out in much deeper water and much farther out — and second, because we’re not in the whale watching business. That’s not a very practical business on a sailboat. We’re more likely to be found by the whales than the other way round. We’re here to provide entertainment for the whales. And so we did.
When we first saw this duo, we were 75-100 feet away on intersecting vectors. The whales cleared our bow and we stood off more than 100 yards. They were scooting along at almost 7 knots on a steady southeasterly heading, which we paralleled for 10 minutes or so. When we were near Hueneme canyon, 747 sounded. No point in hanging around after that, she’d stay down for a long time.
The new Coast Guard boats at Channel Islands station are part of a beefed up anti-crime mission.
But they’re still out there doing “safety inspections” on recreational vessels engaged in — ta dah — recreation.
Channel Islands Coast Guard has two new “jet” boats.
We were under sail and barely moving last week, when through dense fog we spotted this CG boat. It closed us slowly, probably got to within 100′ or so, when they turned on their blue flasher and sped toward this guy who was just emerging from the fog.
In the old days (last year), they did their boardings from a small RIB — a rubber boat, which required a step up to all but the lowest gunwales. We watched with interest as they boarded this guy. Even with no wind and no seaway, the jump down seemed like an athletic feat.
Our experience with these inspections is that the CG crew were always very polite and careful of our boat. Not a black streak did they leave. They checked the usual stuff: up-to-date documentation and flares and not much else. The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes from the request “May we board your vessel?” to “Good-bye, safe travels.”
It’d be a good idea to check your docs, flares, life jacket inventory and so forth before you head out.