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Old 09-27-2010, 12:03 PM   #1
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Thanks 'Lighthouse' aka 'Bright-eye-#1' How's yer all goin, eh? - everybody. Didn't know where to post this but here we go. Thanks Bob !! Hope I'm in the correct place. (be the first time ever)

Some 25 yrs back we were 'motor-sailing' a charter yacht (17 mtr steel bilge keeler) to a tight - 7 day turn-around schedule. In order to allow for the maximum enjoyment for the 'paying-customers' (14 of them) - maneuvered VERY close to the 'leeward-side of the Great Barrier Reef at least once a day - sometimes twice - for 5 out of every 7 days - - for the purpose of diving & fishing & a nice nights sleep. In order to do this safely - we positioned a camera (c/w a polaroid lens filter) pointed some 20 mtrs. in front of the bow. This camera was wired to a TV screen next to the nav. station within easy sight of the helmsman & wheel & was well hooded. Result - we didn't 'hit the bricks' in 10 or more yrs.

Being within mtrs of the coral bommies - we could still see very clearly - as it was - - into the water - - both because of the 'polaroid lens filter' & because of the trajectory of the camera focus - being 20 mtrs in front of the bow from a height of over 24 mtrs. What we used back then was not very sophisticated compared to the technology in use to day.

Seems to me that if some of the intelligent 'geeks' in these 'forums' put their heads together - - a more sophisticated system could be developed to keep us all safe - especially in tight situations. This might keep our SV's & MV's from bumping into obtrusions under the water - at least during times of sensible navigation for these - tight situations. That would be a great idea IMHO !! Come-on you 'smarts' - let us see if someone(s) can come up with a good, cost effective system that will keep our insurance premiums down - for those of you that can afford them. Geeezze mayt - tnx a bundle for any assistance as everything will help, big time !! & ciao from - 'jj-geri-hat-trick' - james

PS The then existing 'Admiralty Charts' made many 'notations' of - - this reef or that 'bommie' - - being 1 to 1 1/2 kt miles out of position rendering them a tad difficult to depend on. 6 of the large yachts I rebuilt were foolish enough to be depending on GPS systems to navigate inside the Great Barrie Reef - especially North of Cairns. This IS - WAS - NEVER WILL BE - a very smart decision for a person in charge of a vessel to arrive at. Thus my suggestion for the mounting of a 'closed-circuit' sophisticated camera (c/w polarized lens filter) & a good - high-resolution - shaded screen & positioned in the - very best spot - for the helmsman regardless of the power consumption (within reason) as it beats - holes in the hull(s). Oh & one won't get salt-water in ones 'sundowners' or melt the ice-cubes either. again-ciao, james

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Old 09-27-2010, 12:43 PM   #2
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Interesting discussion foreseen!
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:21 AM   #3
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Forward facing sonar isn't that expensive these days. It's more commonly found on fishing boats (to find the fish) but if you're going close in in coral encrusted areas it's not a bad investment.
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:48 AM   #4
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Forward facing sonar isn't that expensive these days. It's more commonly found on fishing boats (to find the fish) but if you're going close in in coral encrusted areas it's not a bad investment.
G'day bloke. Have you got a figure of/for "Forward facing sonar ISN'T that expensive these days". I always thought they were expensive, were heavy, awkward & took up a lot of room? Sure would like to hear more !! tnx james aka "jj-geri-hat-trick" - - just up the road, north of you in Cairns. ciao
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Old 09-29-2010, 04:21 AM   #5
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$2K for an Interphase unit that lets you see 180 degrees forward in addition to downlook and all in color too. Small boxes to install in the boat and a little screen for your viewing but you have to precisely install two sensors on the hull in key forward locations. We have one with viewing screen in the cockpit and ability to output to vga (computer monitor) for inside though we don't use that capability. You can actually see the cockpit screen by the companionway door on the 9/14 pic you liked of our boat LINK. It is covered with it's little white screen protective thing'y...

Problems--Ours doesn't work well at over 35 ft of depth and doesn't work well with shallow/gradual inclines (like sand bars). Doesn't like bubbles/turbulence either. The depth thing is probably because we haven't properly set the gain or played with it enough.
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:20 AM   #6
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Yeah, $2K is around the price I've been seeing with similar units. The more "professional" units that are in the $30K - 50K range are of course better for larger boats in deeper water, and will tell you whether that's a bluefin or a yellowfin tuna in front of you (and what gender it is, and what it ate for lunch) but those features aren't really necessary for a yacht trying to spot a bommie as you come in to anchor.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:08 PM   #7
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I've been interested in surveillance cameras for quite some time. One can buy wireless (run by a battery) camera for about $100.00. I don't recall seeing any with polarized lenses, but probably there are high end ones that would work.

You can find lots of options by doing an internet search on "surveillance camera" and even "kite cameras" - one cruiser set up a camera on a kite following his boat so he could take pictures of the boat sailing. If I remember correctly, he even gave information on how to set on up for yourself.

With the new flat screen tvs, there are great possibilities out there. Find a smart electronics/computer geek and you could run a remote tv screen to have a computer-driven chart plotter as well on the screen. find an old laptop computer that you can pirate the screen from and you've got a relatively waterproof screen to work with. I don't know, but can the iPad be hooked up to remote gear?

It still takes an educated eye to interpret what the camera shows, so you don't just set it up and go. Takes practice.

Good thought.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:21 PM   #8
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Yeah, $2K is around the price I've been seeing with similar units. The more "professional" units that are in the $30K - 50K range are of course better for larger boats in deeper water, and will tell you whether that's a bluefin or a yellowfin tuna in front of you (and what gender it is, and what it ate for lunch) but those features aren't really necessary for a yacht trying to spot a bommie as you come in to anchor.
G'day - 'you's guys' all. Now let me get this right. For $2k - I can get something that doesn't work? Or not yet anyway. And for $30 to $50k - I can get something "better for larger boats in deeper water" Riiighttttt ! Yea???? Now what's the next step - Please !! And can we make it a positive step, a forward one & one that is - practical, in the real world, Please.

As I recall - small closed circuit camera - $35 Aust - + - polarized lens cover - $25 Aust ; cable c/w end fittings - $40 Aust ; small 21" TV - Hi definition, hi pixels resolution & full colour, c/w wired into camera - $500 Aust . Some time up the mast & a few fittings & screws & loc-tite, some sika-flex at the base & all was done. Total cost - not over $700 & change left over for 'sundowners' when finished, which I must say is obligatory. That was 20 plus yrs ago & I thought we all could make a significant improvement on that both in technical expertise & cost. Oh & I forgot to mention - it worked for 5 years without fail - for we didn't hit anything.

As far as getting that close to the reef & bommies which for some is stupid but for those of us who live & play in the areas of the Great Barrier Reef - it is a way of life. If you want to see the reef & get maximum enjoyment from that experience then you 'must' get-up-close-&-personal - & that is the way it is & I've always done that & not hit-the-bricks yet, he he. From Brisbane, Qld (Queensland) all the way around the top & down to Geraldton, WA (Western Australia - the closer the shore the much more enjoyment the cruising is. That's some 9 to 10 thousand ks of beautiful sailing. That is unless you want to stay from 50 to 100 miles off-shore & that doesn't have my name on it. Ocean is ocean is ocean is ocean & all a tad boring & 'same-be-same. I'm only here for a short time & I am going to have a good (great) time. When I go - you'll all hear me yelling - WOW this is great - what's next. Keep sailin & smilin y'all. Ciao james

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Old 09-29-2010, 02:50 PM   #9
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I guess I don't understand why one one want to get up close and personal with a reef. If you must enter an anchorage via a break in a reef, this I can understand, but in general you cannot anchor upon the coral without doing damage to the coral--right? And, in general you would want to dive or snorkel to enjoy the reefs--not just sail/motor through them. So???? I'm missing a bit here. From deck one can typically see shallow reefs with a pair of polarized sunglasses and work around them. So...camera sounds nice but...???

Regarding FLS, we envisioned it being useful in conjuction with radar to see seawalls and such when visibility is very low and we were picking our way into a harbor or anchorage.

I did not say the Interphase doesn't work, only that it has weaknesses...My boat draws 6'4", not 35'. therefore, it really doesn't matter much to me that we haven't "mastered" the Interphase FLS gain so that it works better above 35' of depth. I must admit that since we sail short-handed, we're usually doing all that we can do to get sails down and things set for anchoring when we're coming in from the sea. "Playing" with the FLS is very low on the list of desired activities. Both of us being technophiles, it is really amazing that we've not "perfected" several technology items on the boat. Ah, that is because they're not necessary to sailing--they're just nice to have! We happen to have a wonderful scientific camera that works in low light situations that hubby would love to put atop the mast. We have a nice Labview image processing card that can take info from it and we can do wonderful things with the info. But, we've not done it because, well, we're busy doing other things and don't see it as needed but rather just another toy.

JeanneP, I don't think it is so simple to put together a reliable system (for low money) using an old laptop screen, etc. You would need to use the entire old laptop to have the video board/power supply, etc. And much old equipment is glitchy in terms of hooking up video products. There are many nice surveillance cameras out there so one could conceivably hook one up to one's computer pretty easily and conceivably run a second vga screen off the computer (say, put it in the cockpit?).

As I remember from the polarizing lens on my 35mm camera, it was something that you would turn to get the polarization lined up correctly to see into the water (bypassing the surface reflections). Thus, I think, one could probably generally use a "fixed" polarizing lens atop a high place on the boat but not always would it work to bypass surface reflections.

The IPad is very proprietary so would likely have to be hooked up to some Apple product or Apple partner product but there may be product out there. A netbook computer or one of the new tablet units coming out to compete with IPad would be more likely to have success with something one cobbles together oneself.

While it is quite fascinating to have a "toy" to take pics of one's boat at sea, etc, I really cannot see myself relying upon a remote camera for picking our way through a reef structure when instead one of us can go out to the end of the bowsprit and see a lot or be hoisted aloft to have a look (or even steer from aloft using the autopilot remote) if it is really needed.

Don't get me wrong--we both love the idea of a kite camera or mast-top camera but don't think that it should be considered necessary equipment by anyone.
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Old 09-29-2010, 08:20 PM   #10
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I wasn't thinking it through completely, or to put a better spin on it, I didn't describe it adequately.

I'm not big on computer gear in the cockpit, simply because with the exception of the Tough Books, they do not do well with water splashing on them (and I sure know about that!). I'm throwing out a lot of options because there should be something possible using the new wireless surveillance cameras and bluetooth technology. After all, chart plotters are sort-of LCD screens and they are weather proof. And there are TV devices on the market for boats nowadays to help maneuver boats - what I've seen marketed is for the high-end luxury motor yacht, but as with bow thrusters, I expect them to appear on the small cruising yacht pretty soon, especially with more visibility problems with some of the large catamarans on the market nowadays.

As far as getting up close and personal with reefs, sometimes you have to do that to get into an anchorage, especially if the depth sounder has died. Yes, climbing into the rigging is one way of doing it if you've got somebody who can do that while you're steering, but that's not possible for a singlehander.

Some of our most pleasant stops required threading through reefs - Mopelia and Maupiti (I may have spelled them wrong) in French Polynesia were two; Beveridge Reef is another example. Los Roques in Venezuela another. And we've visited half a dozen more challenging ones than that. A bit nerve-wracking but the rewards were worth the effort. We went into a bay in Vanuatu that was not mentioned in any cruising guide and ran into a mess of coral about halfway into the bay, completely unexpected. The charts were old so this was a coral "reef" that had developed long after the charts had been drawn. One place among many where our fin keel was a savior, a full keel would have been a much worse problem.

>>>>> aside here. When we were in Los Roques the first time, a friend who was an avid fisherman from up North flew down to cruise with us for a while. We were threading our way through a bommie-strewn area to get closer to the bonefish flats and to get to a good anchorage. He was on the bow with Peter to help spot the bommies, but I didn't realize that he was pretty clueless about what he was supposed to do, so he was pointing out things to Peter, which I of course interpreted as the route to get through the coral. We had a few close calls before I realized that I was going to have to ignore all his "help" or we were not going to make it through safely. <<<<<<<<<<
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Old 09-30-2010, 01:27 AM   #11
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I just think it's one thing to be moving your boat around a marina (like my friend with the Silverton/bow thrusters/camera system) with well defined "shapes" e.g. docks, pilings, etc. And it is totally another thing to have the pattern recognition skills to recognize an obstacle in the water in terms of size, depth, distance from the boat and so forth so you can react properly. Difficult to do.

Whenever one puts technology in place of first hand seeing something oneself, one is putting in an "error" generator. Truly, even having people helping you, as you found out J, can be an error generator for the helm person. Thus, the ability to move around the deck using an autopilot remote as rudder control should be something in terms of new technology that one would consider when in such a situation as picking through reefs where it's really important.

The FLS we have would have likely picked up the coral you encountered in the middle of the harbor as long as you weren't going faster than about 7 knots in depths of 40 feet or less. We were finding deadheads and such in the Delta with it (Depth of water 10 to 40 feet and deadheads in the muddy water sometimes just below the surface and sometimes 5 feet down or so. Sometimes we found "blobs" that we didn't know what they were, but simply steered around the blob just in case.

I don't particularly like using technology in lieu of our own senses as a general statement.

Regarding displays, J, because our business experience is in the area of image processing and portable image based medical equipment, we have lots of displays and parts of displays hanging around in our storage unit and even here on the boat. If anyone could easily make a display do what it needed to do, it would be us. We haven't though. It's just not a priority. We own a Phillips tablet PC (about 7 years old) that is simply a display that one can carry around the boat and via wireless receive data from another PC. Thus, it could reside outside or be carried around the deck with a chart displayed, gps, FLS, and camera information all together quite nicely. BUT it isn't weather proof so we don't use it that way and we're busy enough doing other things besides integrating such a data stream. In today's display world, there aren't such "repeater" displays which are waterproof but that will likely change. I keep expecting to see an update to the Phillips we have.

Climbing the rigging--yes, it helps to have more than one person aboard. And--that brings me to the idea that one shouldn't be using technology in lieu of mates aboard really. If one has chosen to solo sail, one should probably stick to sailing that doesn't realistically require additional eyes--e.g. threading through reefs while looking at a camera to help out just seems well, wrong. JMHO.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:48 AM   #12
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I just think it's one thing to be moving your boat around a marina (like my friend with the Silverton/bow thrusters/camera system) ......
G'day all. Especially to SV Mahdee & MV Watermellon. These very special vessels are fortunate indeed - to have such knowledgeable people on board. So to you 4 - Brenda, David & Jeanne,Peter - - I SAY THANK-YOU !! Your information is without equal. Brenda - your comments to 'j' - Jeanne - 'regarding displays' has much info for me to learn from, TNX. Jeanne - likewise to you two. Words can't express how grateful I am to you all. Problem at this end is - I don't know very much at all - especially about your areas of expertize, which is why I raised this subject in here. I'll keep listening to everyone's advice & do much more home-work & get back in here with anything constructive that I'm able to learn. I still have this belief in my head - that if somehow - someone could find the answer to this vexing problem then many cruising people - 'round-the-world - would benefit greatly & it will in time become a 'useful tool' to safer navigation in tight restricted areas as an assistance to the - not always reliable person on the for-deck. I'm glad you have a great sense of humour & sorry for my laps - must have got your depth (required) mixed up with your mast height, ooops & darn & tnx for not 'ripping my head off.

Our 3rd eldest (little boy / now 47) runs his own - computer business in Brisbane Qld - & I've thrown this subject at him & am sure in the fullness of time that he'll - come to the aid of his dad. He is also a 'yachts' person & lives on a 34' sloop in Brisbane. Has been in several - Sydney to Hobart races plus 100's of cruising sorties. Bad time to ask him though (he just lost his older brother to cancer & is having a hard time learning to cope)
I thought I'd just - go it alone - for now cause in a week this Sat I'm flying to Darwin to start the total redesign & rebuild of the GBE (nick-named 'Gnome' -as in - garden-gnome - - where it's been for the last 4 yrs waiting for me to 'fix (that's 4 letters, eh ?) it. Lots to do there after I earn some money to afford my plans, which are rather extensive. Thanks again to you all.

Ciao for now from down-under - "jj-geri-hat-trick" & my Lady Pamela
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:01 AM   #13
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Interesting idea.

Maybe a car rear view system could be used for the purpose. Maybe due to the different distances something should be done with the optical part, but I guess a better optics can create a replacement lens (with the filter added) if needed. This is an illustration where you can see prices (first hit by google) http://www.espow.com/wholesale-car-e...w-systems.html

Of course by wisely choosing parts one can achieve better quality (maybe even with lower prices).

Regarding monitor: I plan to place 3 monitors in the boat:

one at the helm. Getting a rugged touchscreen monitor should not be a big deal, I guess the challenge here is to place/equip it such that it can be seen at all times and weather.

one at the nav station. it would be a simple laptop-size one, for small changes in route and for bad-weather helming when no one wants to go outside

one as the main desk in the cabin. it would be the place for serious route planning, and useable for entertainment purposes.

There would be a main navigational desktop, shared by the helm and nav station, displaying all relevant information, and useable also at the main desk. Non-nav software would be available only at main desk.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:37 PM   #14
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G'day 'Magwas' (& others - of course) Thanks for the - info link - Lot's of good products in there, especially the small waterproof camera. I'll take some time to better evaluate all of those products & see what I can find out while I'm in Darwin. Don't know how reliable the 'service providers' are up there cause down here in Cairns they don't provide much 'service' at all. As such is the case I don't know how I'll go getting into these 'forums' regularly. Thanks for your very constructive observations with this subject & I'm sure it will lead me much closer to the end answer. By my calculations you've got - only - 12 & 11/12's to go. Thanks again, "JJ-geri-hat-trick"
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