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shamrock7

Enough is enough

26 posts in this topic

Ok Guys, its time to get serious about this night time boat navigation. We have had 2 boating accidents in 4 days and both were navigating with GPS at 2:00 in the morning.

You can not rely on just GPS PERIOD. It is a great tool but you can not rely on it as your sole means of navigation. We use GPS/ Radar/ FLIR/ and 2 high power spot lights on the fire/rescue boat and it can still be tough navigating. And we know the lake. Plug in the "new to the area" factor and you have a recipe for disaster.

Lets all take it upon ourselves to help educate everyone that GPS is great but you can not rely on it for everything. There will continue to be accidents because of this but if we can prevent 1 death by talking about it and educating as many as we can, we will save some family the misery of losing a loved one.

It is really amazing that none of the 5 people hurt in these 2 accidents have not been fatalities. There were some serious injuries in both cases.

BE CAREFULL OUT THERE

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Randy

Maybe this should be posted in some form in the Open Water Forum too. It's a great eye opener. We seem to be putting common sense aside and counting on technology too much.

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I know the lake like the back of my hand, BUT, i will not cruise around at night in a boat and I dont recommend anyone else do that either. There are exceptions as for muskie fishing and such, but I wont go bar hopping @ 2am all over the lake in known sketchy areas.

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Very good post Randy, You all may want to also consider speed and navigational aids, during the fog. I get to the main lake through Pike Bay narrows and always cut between Whiskey Island and the "rez", this past weekend the fog was really heavy,in the early morning. I do not use a GPS, I was just puttering along until I thought I was in the area of Whiskey Island, to my surprise I was at least 300 yards from where I thougt the island was located, I got just a glimpse of the island in some lighter fog. Talked with Cliff W. later that day and he said someone almost T-boned his boat. The other person going way to fast for the conditions. I guess one just has to use a little common sense when operating any kind of motorized vehicle. I myself do not go out on the lake at night, I have been fishing the lake since I was just a little shaver, now that I am 57, wisdom prevails. Here's hoping you all stay safe on the water or where ever your at. Darrell Larson.

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I have neither the money nor the desire to buy a GPS. There might be just as many negatives as positives. Maybe for boat/snowmobile/ATV/vehicle use, GPS could be tied into the ignition system with a kill switch. That would make it so that you can't operate GPS at the same time that you are moving, only after you come to a stop.

These GPS devices might cause the same level of destraction as cell phones. I shudder at the thought of a big boat flying around at night/fog/other just relying on GPS and not what they can see (i.e. ME). Planes and submarines use radar and sonar to detect nearby objects when they navigate by instrument. Land and water vehicles shouldn't be much different.

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Agreed. And everyone has to remember that just as with anything else, COMMON SENSE, must be the major part of any equation. If not, we all know what can happen. Fox TV from Duluth is doing a story on this hazard, i will try to post when it will aire once they leave.

In all the years that I have been involved with the Fire Department and all the late night emergency calls I go on, my biggest concern before was lightning and boaters running without their lights on. Now I have to add a 3rd worry and I don't know where to prioritize it on my list. I'm afraid that it will be close to the top.

Thanks for all the comments and lets save a life.

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If you want to see my ugly mug on tv, channel 21 at 9:00 Fox Duluth will be doing a story on these accidents and things that can be done to help reduce the risks.

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Randy,

There was also another crash last night by Cherry island!

A client and his wife wrecked his lower unit and transom on an unmarked rock between Cherry Island and Morcom Island!

This was also after dark! Also by people who were on the lake for their first time.

He was thrown from the boat! shocked.gif Very lucky to have only been bruised badly. Headed home today to have their doctor check them out.

Ths rock needs a hazzard bouy as it has been hit quite a few times in the past! frown.gif

Cliff

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Cliff Is that the rock that is about 100 feet straight west of the west dock of Cherry? That one is on the Lakemaster chip. If they start marking every rock like this they'll run out of markers in a hurry. First time on the lake, driving around at night in maybe unfamiliar waters spells trouble no matter where your from. Must have been some speed involved if the person was thrown from the boat.

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I agree with shamrock...common sense is a very big factor with boating at night. And as for GPS, yeah, they're great for fishing. The lakemaster chip is a lot of fun to work with, but it comes down to common sense. It's about being alert in a boat, about being aware of your surroundings at all times, especially on a lake like Vermilion at night. Now I'm not familiar with the boating accident that recently happened on the Big V, and I don't want to pass any judgement there, but I live in the west metro area close to some very popular boating lakes, and I personally think more than worrying about the GPS, we should start worrying about the yahoos cruising around after dark with a cocktail in one hand and cellphone in the other.

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I agree with shamrock...common sense is a very big factor with boating at night. And as for GPS, yeah, they're great for fishing. The lakemaster chip is a lot of fun to work with, but it comes down to common sense. It's about being alert in a boat, about being aware of your surroundings at all times, especially on a lake like Vermilion at night. Now I'm not familiar with the boating accident that recently happened on the Big V, and I don't want to pass any judgement there, but I live in the west metro area close to some very popular boating lakes, and I personally think more than worrying about the GPS, we should start worrying about the yahoos cruising around after dark with a cocktail in one hand and cellphone in the other.

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Silverscale,

That's the one!

Cliff

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I would have to assume this rock (and the others), and the structure around them is very shallow and if one was aware of surrounding by looking at both map/GPS and knew your exact location one would be able to steer clean of the shallow are all together?

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"Having a GPS and /or a map" are the key words here! If you do not have either the area that the rock is in appears to be the safest route between the islands.

There is a hazzard bouy on the South side of the island and the water on all four sides of the bouy is around 15 feet deep.

Cliff

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Unfortunately, getting a rock marked is a tough sell. It has to go thru the Sheriffs office. I believe mark Eires (SP) on the Cook end of the lake has the contract. He would be the place to start. Once he checks it out, he can make a recommendation to the Sheriffs Office. I think Dave Phillips would be the one to deal with at the Sheriffs Office.

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GPS couldn't prevent boat operator error

Mark Stodghill

Duluth News Tribune - 07/19/2007

Three Chicago area residents, using a Global Positioning System unit, were injured early Wednesday when their boat struck a rock formation and an island near the Fortune Bay Casino in Everett Bay on Lake Vermilion, about 100 yards from where another boat using a GPS unit hit an island on Sunday.

Authorities said that reliance on the GPS unit was a factor in Wednesday’s accident. It was the third crash of a boat using GPS in Northern St. Louis County in the past month and the fourth this year.

However, law enforcement officials and a boating equipment supplier point their fingers at the boat operators, not at the navigational tool.

The three men were injured about 2 a.m. Wednesday. They were hospitalized in the Virginia Regional Medical Center, said Lt. Ed Kippley, supervisor of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia. Kippley said the driver of the boat had head injuries, one passenger sustained a broken leg and the third man had internal injuries. Their injuries were not considered life threatening.

St. Louis County Undersheriff Dave Phillips said his own boat is equipped with GPS and he considers it a valuable tool. “GPS is navigation, but it is not collision avoidance,” Phillips said. “The equivalent of these [boating] accidents is if you are driving your car and only looking at the dashboard. You have to have your eyes on your water environment. In unfamiliar water, it’s best to really go slow.”

Phillips said GPS units have led to fewer boaters getting lost on Lake Superior. “It’s truly a good thing,” he said. “But it will not show you another target, or an obstacle or a boat in front of you.”

Russ Francisco, owner of the Marine General Sports Store in Duluth, said a boater should remember that a Global Positioning System is simply an aid to navigation.

“I always tell people that it does not relieve them of the responsibility to learn how to navigate with a compass and a paper map; and dead reckoning — knowing what your surroundings are and where you were before,’’ Francisco said. “GPS doesn’t show if there is a boat in front of you. Ninety percent of the problem is human error. They just expect too much.”

Kippley said his office’s preliminary investigation of Wednesday’s crash indicated that “they were going too fast and relying totally on the GPS rather than watching where they were going.” He said the sky was black with no moonlight during Sunday’s and Wednesday’s accidents.

Reports of Wednesday’s accident will be sent to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office in Virginia for a decision on possible charges, Kippley said. It hadn’t been determined whether alcohol was a factor in the crash, he said.

Tim Smalley, boating safety specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said this is the first year he’s heard of a rash of boating accidents linked to GPS. He hasn’t heard of an increase outside of northern St. Louis County.

Smalley suspects that some boaters are programming the GPS system while driving the boat or they are spending too much time looking at the map on the GPS and not watching what is ahead of them. He said he has GPS in his automobile and it clearly instructs the driver that it not be programmed while driving.

“It’s just a tool, like an electronic road map,” he said. “You have to have the brain engaged as well when you are using it. We tend to blame the thing instead of the person behind the thing. There’s nothing wrong with GPS. It’s a safety device that can help you find your way home in the fog.

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I posted this question in the open water topic regarding this also:

Do you think if these guys had the Lakemaster maps loaded on the GPS that this could/would have been avoided (if they were using it as a navigational aid)?

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As I was cruising Vermilion (in the daylight) with my lakemaster chip I saw at least 1 rockpile that was out of the water and not marked by the chip...

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Quote:

As I was cruising Vermilion (in the daylight) with my lakemaster chip I saw at least 1 rockpile that was out of the water and not marked by the chip...


Very good to know....not necessarily about that particular area, but the point in general. This info may be even more valuable than posting about others just hitting rocks because of a GPS....if people here more info like this they may pay more attention!

One more question for you....was that particular area shallow around it even though not marked by any symbols.....or was it just normal water all around it where most would not think twice about crossing the area.

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I know my area of Western Vermilion very well, and have extensive experience using the Vermilion chip on my Lowrance. I have learned a few things a would like to pass on.

1- If you have no visual reference to shore or other obstacles, it will be very difficult to navigate with only the GPS. The GPS takes some time (5-10 sec?) to plot on your trail and you will end up zig zagging about the plotted trail. Without a visual reference, you must go very slowly (off-plane, 5 mph)

2- Plot your saved trails in clear weather and plot a course well way from any hazzards, rather than the shortest daytime course. This allows you to clear the hazzards more easily when visability is poor.

3- If you have no plotted trail and are going only by the electronic map you will have even less confidence. Trying to follow the topo details on the bright screen will make seeing outside the boat even harder. If you do not have a clear trail away from the hazzards you are asking for trouble.

4- Having a good night light (bow mounted, no glare on windows) is a huge benefit.

4- Plan your trips better. Having to negotiate the dark areas of Vermilion on a clouded, moonless night can be quite scary.

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It was not shown on the contour map at all as a shallow area...It was about 100 yards from shore and there were boats going between shore and the tiny rockpile...It was East of Pike Bay on the South shore..I have only fished Vermilion about 8 times and can't imagine being out there on a moonless night hauling a$$...While prefishing for a bass tourney a few years ago we took my buddies lower unit out while we were somewhat checking the map.. (daylight) After rechecking the map there was a nice big red star on the rockpile we hit at about 50...50mph to 0mph in about 30 feet is pretty scary....The rocks were about 6" under the surface...

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comment retracted

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Very good posts guys!

All of the information you have provided is correct.

Another thing to be aware of with a GPS map is that small things such as a small rock pile or reef will not show up on your screen if you have the map zoomed out to far! The closer you have the map zoomed in, the more detail you will see! The biggest problem is finding the correct amount of zoom that will show you what is ahead and still show small rocks ect.

If relying on your GPS in fog or total darkness always keep your speed under 10mph!

Cliff

Cliff

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Quote:

Well, we all know now that following the GPS was not the main factor in the crash. tsk tsk tsk.


Enlighten us please.

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EDIT.

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