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Member Since 19 Oct 2004
Offline Last Active Oct 14 2015 05:57 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Barcelona World Race 2015

19 February 2015 - 12:02 AM

I'm surprised they don't carry a replacement rudder?  Sure, there's a weight penalty, but rudder damage at these speeds has to be common, and you need both working to finish, apparently.

In Topic: Team Vestas grounded

09 December 2014 - 07:41 PM


But as a user, I personally have had (multiple) incidents similar to Vestas's (fortunately had better luck and never lost the boat), and learned to include (several things) in my route navigation work flow to 'fly the route at high zoom' (and cross checks from depth and radar and from Beth).  So I have learned to 'work around' the weaknesses of the system; But I believe the charting system objective should be to help the Nav avoid running into land in every possible way, and not to increase his work load.


I suppose that one problem with racing boats is that the planned course is constantly changing as the routing reacts to forecasts. So if you have to fly the next - up to 150 miles (6 hours at 25kts) twice a day at a zoom high enough not to miss things, I can see how - after never seeing anything unexpected - it drops down the list of essential tasks when you're knackered. 

Yep it can be a fair bit of work to "clear" the routes - especially in rapidly changing conditions such as a storm passing through the racing area.  On the other hand - this is exactly what computers are great at if the charting is reasonably precise and the options in the charting software allow for that kind of clearing (with user selecting parameters such as depth, currents, traffic lanes/separation zones maybe even forecast inclement weather).  Not that this would take away  human route clearing but it could help catch issues that the human clearing has missed.  This would be a huge help to race routing.


Absolutely agree.  I think we well understand Wouter’s admitted mistake, and a substantial lesson can be learned here to improve the charting. It is the kind of innovation that could help humble sailors too.


Of course the sleeping navigator here warned of a 40 meter sea mount.  Without getting into charts, the captain of the watch has a wonderful tool, constantly running, drawing a fraction of the power consumption of radar, capable of displaying the depth in real time with great accuracy.  Estar’s excellent, comprehensive review includes the depth alarm.  Presuming E asks whether depth was on the deck display (not answered yet).   Kent Island wrote, a sea mount of 40 meters of depth would have his full attention.  Why?  Because the chart could be wrong or mis-read.  Obviously, if the depth doesn’t match your expectation, then you must check the charts.  Chances are you will see unexpected depth long before you hear the breakers.


Sure, you can makes rules to display the depth on deck at X distance from X meters deep.  But that is well known.  Why wasn’t the depth watched properly?  What is the root cause? 

3. Correct use of the depth sounder (min depth alarm) and/or radar (guard zone) could have avoided this incident, even given the above two errors, but they were (apparently) not used.  That is a process error.


From what I read, they expected the depth the rise to 40m.  But no less.  This is problem in the reverse.  It seems they did have the depth sounder operational and it did notify them of the sudden rise.  But they expected it.  So no guard zone. 


I don't think we know the state of the sounder, we will find out, but we already know other VOR boats "nearly" made the same mistake, saved by the light of day.  The view that 40 meters and only 40 meters was "expected" seems spot on.  Instead of properly watching the depth meter tick down, just as you watch your speed and the wind with undying vigilance, it "drops down the list of essential tasks".  Why? It is far far easier than flying the whole course at low zoom.  But the job of the deck is to sail fast, period (oh and don't break the boat, fix what's broken, etc).  OK to call it a 'process error' but I suspect that an honest inquiry into the root cause will show over confidence in the charts, GPS placing you on that chart, and the navigator.  It is very hard to own up to that because it is not one team or one person, it is cultural.  Do the investigators have the pull to alter the cultural course a little bit?

In Topic: Team Vestas grounded

02 December 2014 - 10:00 PM

3. ....  In this particular case, a clearing depth (alarm) would probably have prevented the incident.

Excellent points as usual from Estar, PE and others.  From any of the VOR teams, the odds are that this was a known danger, with a sort of risk analysis done and direction given.  Abu Dhabi's statement is telling in that they came close and could have missed it at night - they knew about it. Keeping X miles away is a good measure, but if I'm taking some risk by going closer because I want to get to "point B" faster, and in racing you always want to win some extra meters, I usually limit the risk by saying we will tack or jibe at X depth.  The value of X will have to do with what the chart tells me about the bottom over my intended course, my experience with the area, my appetite for risk, whether my boat is fragile or sturdy, etc.   In the combination of fatigue, focus on sailing fast, and the million other things going on, at night, it would really help to get a little reminder from a computer that will continue to pay attention to the depth.  I can't imagine that they set a depth alarm and then ignored it.  I'm guilty of not setting one when I should, but when I do set it, I'm usually happy about it.


I realize this is jumping ahead, but if the above scenario is correct, then hubris has something to do with it too.  (I wouldn't mention that to Stamm either.  Or Joyon.)  I think Estar is right, but then why don't they set an alarm?  The culture of experienced sailors is to say "I've got that risk covered" and 99% of the time they do, so setting an alarm is overkill.  But when sailing 15 knots at night, even the best could use a little help. When Vestas makes a statement we could find out that this is wrong headed, but as Estar puts it, using that tool on board probably would have prevented the incident.