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Old 03-20-2008, 12:11 AM   #1
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seems to me the 'sensor' equipment is available. radars,PCs, GPS, AIS, weather data, chart plotting and other navigation and communication aids. along with roller furling and bow thrusters, windvane and autopilots, green power generation (assuming a few more leaps in efficiency)....

how much interest does (if) anyone have in a software 'captain'...so all you have to do is punch in a destination...and perhaps a style (race, casual) and the boat does everything without ANY intervention from you? just sit around drinking mai tai's if you want.

sorry, i've just started my 'easter' vacation (5 days) so i have time on my hands.
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Old 03-23-2008, 05:28 AM   #2
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seems to me the 'sensor' equipment is available. radars,PCs, GPS, AIS, weather data, chart plotting and other navigation and communication aids. along with roller furling and bow thrusters, windvane and autopilots, green power generation (assuming a few more leaps in efficiency)....

how much interest does (if) anyone have in a software 'captain'...so all you have to do is punch in a destination...and perhaps a style (race, casual) and the boat does everything without ANY intervention from you? just sit around drinking mai tai's if you want.

sorry, i've just started my 'easter' vacation (5 days) so i have time on my hands.
I like having an autopilot, but I don't like the idea of relinquishing control of the boat to something that might make a bad decision because of a corroded wire in the bowels of the bilge....
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Old 03-23-2008, 04:26 PM   #3
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OH, MY! I do hope that somebody would have the foresight to make something like that illegal!

The waters of this world are full of beginners and fools, though of course none that frequent this forum. I would HATE to be on the same ocean with somebody who relinquished control of his boat to an electronic captain and sat back drinking anything alcoholic while on passage!

OF COURSE we, too, were beginners at one point. AND THAT IS WHY I recoil violently from such an idea.

I'm shouting because I'm cranky. We seem to be surrounded by fools lately.

We are in a mooring field and last night the wind died completely and the river currents took over. Unfortunately, the boat on the next mooring to ours refused to turn with the current and instead backed into us, his outboard's prop scraping our topsides. He looks to be a newbie and he didn't think to shorten his mooring line which would have taken him away from us, so we moved over to another mooring. I didn't mind the move, but I did find his shrugging failure to think of a better solution a bit irritating, as if his boat were a ungovernable force that we all had to live with.

All the liveaboard boats in the mooring field are required to go to the dock at least once a week to have their holding tank pumped out. With more than 50 boats in the mooring field and only 3 places at the dock, it can get busy. I watch boat after boat go to the dock towing their dinghy which interferes with other boats trying to maneuver into the dock. This is silly (IMO, of course). Why don't they just tie their dinghy to the mooring line? Much tidier and safer.

Enough. This, too, shall pass.
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:02 AM   #4
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okay mooring etiquette, and maneuvering may be a stretch. but seriously, im a computer geek (graduate degree) i know the difference between nondeterministic and deterministic. and it seems like, at least (not 'perfect') but, given current sensor technology available (i could even conceive of a luff and tail/tell (or is it the other way, or is it tale?) sensor for trim) you could at least have a competent better than 'deck ape' level invisible crew member right? just look at the input data available?

maybe not so you can sit around drinking mai tais, but you could have near perfect (standard competent) control, and plenty of alert for emergencies (boat says "i don't know what to do now!"). no? is it that iffy out there? i wouldn't know, but well im a computer geek, baby starver, we use machines to deny others employment! (that's one way of looking at it). in interested in this cause im interested in singlehanding.

and if 'we' promised not to use it in the harbor?
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Old 03-24-2008, 02:33 AM   #5
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Tell you what. Hold that thought for a few weeks of reading this forum's topics and comments, good, bad, indifferent. Read about disasters at sea and dissect them - how who what when where why and how could it have been avoided by a human with a brain (if it could).

think about bad weather and the sensitivity of electronics in a hostile environment. Consider what needs to be done to make the connections reliable in the present of electrolysis.

But what you might not read about, what often isn't discussed, is there is still no machine that can think as well, accurately, or correctly as the human brain. Artificial intelligence still hasn't delivered on its promise.

I reject, for now, your idea that technology can be devised to run a boat without human intervention. If the human eye and mind can be fooled, how can I trust a computer? I can imagine the raft of devices to replace a human's eyes and ears, but I can't imagine any device replacing human judgment.

And again. there are just too many fools out there with the money but not the sense to use modern devices. It would be like putting a gun into a two-year-old's hands. If the fool killed only himself I would shrug and say "what a shame". But if the fool killed a cruising family I would call it a crime. Sometime in the future, perhaps. Not now.
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:25 PM   #6
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If I remember correctly Larry Ellison had his yacht halcyon wired to sail herself. When she was in Alameda Calif. I went down to the dock to see what belonged to such a tall mast. There were wires coming out of the mast, and this had me puzzled. As I say if I remember correctly Latitude 38 did an article on the boat.

The wires were sensors, so the boat could learn to sail itself. Over time it could reef, or shake out a reef in any one sail. I think the boat was around 150ft. and cost $200 million. I myself refuse to connect my autopilot to my chart plotter. To error is human, and the human mind is still better than a computer................
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:58 PM   #7
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2 events spring to mind....

I am sure I read somewhere that the Exon Valdez had the latest tech equipment etc installed that would sound umpteen bells and alarms....but no one came to the bridge..... still was deemed a human error as the Captain (master..) will remain responsible ..and WHAT a mess.. and damge to marine life etc.

the other is a yacht ... I think called the "Marie Cha" ( not sure ) .. but it was also a multimillion $ excercise in "mine is bigger than yours" and with all the best tech equipment she still dragged anchor in the Med and damaged keel or props badly while the full-time crew where cleaning/working below...

I am a true believer that people sail boats... not machines... a machine might not always pick up the submerged log or container... but a keen watchful eye on the graveyard shift might...

So no auto sailing for me... thats why one should take on crew (as mentioned elsewhere) when doing a crossing... Remember the old WW II slogan.. "Loose lips ..sink ships "... I believe a machine by its lonesome will do the same ...
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:48 PM   #8
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Only one question...WHY? Granted, I have my share of electronics...but when the wind is blowing I love nothing more than to be at the helm steering and trimming. That is the reason for having a sail boat and not a power boat.
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Old 03-25-2008, 12:59 AM   #9
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I'm with you, Trim.

On an offshore passage (or anywhere else), if there's wind, I'm hand steering. To hell with the autopilot. I tell my crew, '"Why let the autopilot have all the fun?".

With your hands on the wheel, you can feel the balance and make small sail adjustments as conditions change. On auto, all you can do is sit there and intervene when the darn thing starts whining too much. Automation is for motoring.
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Old 03-25-2008, 06:16 AM   #10
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I still grin from ear to ear when nearing hull speed, holding a nice heel and listening to the ping-ping-ping of the sheets being finely trimmed out. There is nothing else like the oneness that a team of humans can achieve with a beautifully engineered sailing vessel and the wind.

Without the capacity for the passion of sailing, I doubt that an automated vessel would ever be able to achieve the trim of human eyes, ears and touch.
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