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shamrock7

Wonders of GPS

24 posts in this topic

I normally stay on the Vermilion forum but was suggested that I post here concerning an alarming trend of people relying in GPS for night time navigation. We have had 2 boating accidents with major injuries in the last 4 days on Vermilion. Both were late at night, using GPS mapping to get them to where they were going. In talking to the Sheriffs Deputies after the patients were headed to the hospital, they told of 2 other identical cases earlier this summer. Fortunately, no fatalities yet but we were darn close on a couple of them.

Take the time to know the water you are on. GPS mapping is great but if you are driving 30 MPH and also running on split screen, you are asking for a problem. If you are going from point A to point b, go to full map screen. Get a high powered spot light. Slow down.

We operate the Greenwood Township Fire/Rescue boat and have to respond to these calls. We have GPS mapping/radar/FLIR and 2 high powered spot lights and we know the water that we are on and it can still be a challenge navigating.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

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Ive had to navigate on Kabetogama numerous times at night, lots of islands and rocks on that lake. The rules I live by are go only as fast as you need to keep the boat up on plane and if you dont have a spotlight, dont even try it. The marker bouys have reflective tape on them so they are easy to spot from a long distance and keep plenty of distance from them. Most if not all bouys are on the chips you put in your GPS.

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Shamrock heres another you may at sometime have to rescue! I guess people just don't get it!

("go only as fast as you need to keep the boat up on plane") confused.gif

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Does anyone have any more details on this or any othher accidents like this? Not that it matter to the point being made here regarding relying on GPS at night.......but was this particular area marked on any lake maps or marketed on any GPS loaded lake maps?

Obviously (or maybe not) if someone sees that on their GPS (with lake depth mapping and/or in addition to a paper map) that they are coming up on an area that looks to be shallower (even more relevant this year with low water levels) that they should be paying even more attention to what may be ahead (not an excuse that they are not already paying special attention to the mission at hand).

In addition to that, this counts for day time traveling as well (relying on GPS that is). I would say more often than not you will not see the structure sticking out of the water.....and many times it may not be marked. Seems like the same receipe for disaster to some point.

Again...it does not matter to the overall point of this post but just wondering if there are any more details.

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Remember that the accuracy of GPS unit may be in question at different times of the day according to which and how many satellites are available to it so it should never be completely trusted to keep you on a precise path. Great tools but not nearly reliable enough to bet your life on! I would definately trust it to get me home but not through a boulder field or series of narrow channels, etc.

The other thing that a GPS isincapable of is showing you other traffic that likely was not there the last time you came through.

It seems to me that a couple of years ago I heard of a guy in a walleye tournament on the Missouri river who was blazing to his spot through thick fog running on his GPS and had a head-on collision with a bridge and was killed.

Thanks for the reminder!

Daze Off

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Shamrock heres another you may at sometime have to rescue! I guess people just don't get it!

("go only as fast as you need to keep the boat up on plane")
confused.gif


So according to you I should idle speed it 7 miles back to the cabin?

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Another thing that I have noticed with GPS mapping is that your trail moves. I am not sure if the position of the satelites causes this or the way the system creates the trail causes it, but often after I mark a spot where I caught a fish and turn around to go back through the spot, my trail (that I just made) no longer goes through the waypoint. Which makes me trust waypoints more than the trail. Both of which I try my darndest to avoid (but, admnittedly have used) for night navigation... at least on familiar lakes.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shamrock heres another you may at sometime have to rescue! I guess people just don't get it!

("go only as fast as you need to keep the boat up on plane")

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So according to you I should idle speed it 7 miles back to the cabin


Depends on how much you trust your GPS!! From my understanding they can be off by as much as 30'. From my point of view that is not accurate enuff to have me doing 20 mph when I can't see what is in front of me.

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By all means take your time if you're not comfortable navigating at night. And if you dont have good knowledge of the lake during daylight, dont even think about it at night.

I'm guessing 10-15mph is the slowest I can go and still be on plane. Like I said before I'm constantly checking all around me with the spotlight so it's not like you're totally blind. If on the GPS it shows there should be an island to the west, I'll make sure I find that island with the spotlight before going any further, if it shows a channel marker to the south, I shine the spotlight to the south untill I find it. I just try to do all that without comming down off plane but if things arent where they're supposed to be then I'll idle untill I'm sure of my surroundings.

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I don't know about everyone else....but even if a GPS is off 50'-100' in both directions, I don't usually go that close to shore or any shallow underwater areas....unless I can't avoid it in the area I am in. If I need to (meaning I don't have 100' on either side of me....slow down and use a spot light for marking landmarks.

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The real key there is the spotlight(you didn't mention that in your original post). I have been out after dark on the water, but it was either moonlit or not totally dark and I knew where I was pretty well and wasn't relying on GPS to find my way.

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Well...in tight area I would use one....but in open water areas I would not (i.e. cruising down the east side of Mille Lacs).

In the Mille Lacs case I do use the GPS at night to make sure I am aways away from and shallow water areas or shore. But this usually means 200'+ at least from underwater structure.

In the fog I would NOT do this.

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Nearly 75% of my fishing during the summer is at night, on the river. The river is an amazing place during the summer, full of hazards, more hazards than any lake angler could possibly imagine. Shallow water, rocks, logs, trees, snagpiles, other boats, sometimes no other boats... all confined between 2 shorelines.

My GPS is a huge aid to me. Notice I said aid. I mark above water hazards, as well as shallow water runs with various icons. I always lay a trail down on the GPS when I'm on the water as well. By this time of year, I have trails upon trails all laid very near each other.

While under power, I typically always have my spotlight on. Which just happens to be one of those 10,000,000 candlepower units. It lights up the night. smile.gif I use the spot to scan shorelines, shine deadheads, snags, and be on the alert for new floaters as they are always popping up.

While motoring, I'm constantly glancing between whats in front of me and whats on my GPS screen. I try to stick to my previous trail the best I can since I know my depth is better there than anywhere else in the river. Icons I've added alert me to an upcoming snag or shallow stretch that I need to watch out for.

Fog is another wonder of the river at 2am. On cool summer days with high water temps, she fogs over thicker than you can see through. This is time for idle speed and no spotlight. The spotlight is honestly useless, and I depend solely on my GPS to navigate my way. I do have full confidence in my GPS, but I also am taking it very slow when conditions are like this. If I do bump into something, its just a ding and not bodies flying through the air.

When you are moving, GPS accuracy is actually pretty amazing.

Guess what I'm saying is GPS is a very useful tool for navigating, it just can't be your only tool!

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GPS is a great tool but they wouldn't put the warning disclaimer on the screen of each one if they were meant to be your eyes in the dark. I have seen guys running both the Croix and Mille Lacs at night under full power or close to it and I believe they were staring at the GPS the whole time. It is an aid like Hanson said, not your eyes in the dark or fog. I have a friend that won't fish the foggy mornings out on Lake Michigan because of too many guys going out chasing the GPS screen across the lake. He has radar but why risk an encounter with someone that wants to take the risk of running hard in the fog. No thanks! Use your head, use your common sense and use your electronics to help you make the right decisions. I love my GPS but I have to tell you the good old compass works the same and it doesn't give you that false sense of security when running in fog or at night. Good message to start this post, lets all stay safe so we can take a kid fishing! cool.gif

Tunrevir~

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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.

“Like my dad used to say when he loaned me the car: ‘Remember it’s the nut behind the wheel that causes the accident.’ ’’

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Have navigated in the air, on the water, and on the gound. Anybody who runs arouond in fog or dark using only a GPS is a fool. shocked.gif

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so...does anyone think that if these guys would have had a Lakemaster map loaded in their GPS this could have been avoided (if they were using it as an aid)?

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No and I doubt it. The lakemaster maps are good in the detail that they give but they don't get everything especially smaller structure that can get bypassed in the grid system that they use to map with. I think that anyone who runs on an unfamiliar lake under the cover of darkness or fog is risking the lives of the people in the boat and the "unseen" others that they may run into while staring down the "route" on their gps. The water is down in alot of lakes this year so hydrographic maps in al of their detail may steer you right into harms way rather then away from it. Be careful, be watchful and stay away from running hard in the fog and at night. You just never know, some guy may have had a battery run out of juice and has no lights or may never have turned them on or a thousand other scenario's. We can all live another day to fish even if it takes till the next day to get home.

Tunrevir~

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so...does anyone think that if these guys would have had a Lakemaster map loaded in their GPS this could have been avoided (if they were using it as an aid)?


The 2nd accident was running a 522C with the Lakemaster chip. It was not the chips fault. You can take your unit and find Everett Bay. Go straight north out of the Bay and there are 2 small islands to the right. The first accident happened on the 1st island and the 2nd accident happened on the 2nd island which really isn't much of an island. But it has trees on it. I saw no spotlights in the boats. Doesn't mean that they weren't there.

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so...does anyone think that if these guys would have had a Lakemaster map loaded in their GPS this could have been avoided (if they were using it as an aid)?


The 2nd accident was running a 522C with the Lakemaster chip. It was not the chips fault. You can take your unit and find Everett Bay. Go straight north out of the Bay and there are 2 small islands to the right. The first accident happened on the 1st island and the 2nd accident happened on the 2nd island which really isn't much of an island. But it has trees on it. I saw no spotlights in the boats. Doesn't mean that they weren't there.


Thanks for the info...thats what I was looking for and wondering. I didn't mean to have it sound like it was the Lakemaster chips fault.

I guess I am trying to point out that if they were both watching ahead of them and following deeper water contours of a Lakemaster map (keeping to the deeper areas for navagation), and following a previous track and still hit this island......that it may open some peoples eyes that this isn't safe. I don't know if we will ever know the exact facts about this accident and what they were using for their navigation at that exact time/area. If you know let us know.

Most here are smart enough to know...and use common since. Unfortunately the number of anglers on this site (with common sense) does not compare to the total number of boaters with no common sense.

The news can say what they want about a boating accident that was caused by following a GPS....but many others (I admit such as myslef when I first got Lakemaster) would have not thought twice about relying solely on the GPS.

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Regardless of what map chip you have, which GPS you're using, radar, FLIR, etc., something to remember is that if you aren't COMPLETELY familiar with the path you're taking, there may still be hazards that you may not see. I grew up fishing Vermilion, and even in broad daylight, if the water levels are low, I can personally attest to a reef/rock in the middle of Stuntz bay that is NEVER marked by a buoy, and is safe to travel over when water levels are normal, but if they're low, well, let's just say that a new prop was needed. Vermilion also has a lot of deadheads in some bays that were used for logging purposes in the 30's, 40's and 50's. My cousin found one with his boat last summer. Middle of the day, sun shining, heading out to Big Bay from our cabin and boom... another prop needed...this was an area that our family has traveled over countless times. The conditions just happened to be perfect in that situation for him to find that one deadhead that was high enough to hit his prop, but not bee seen.

We were lucky in both cases that the hazard wsn't higher, or the water wasn't a foot lower, especially the one in Stuntz, since it was about a week before the buoys came off the lake, and the water wasn't exactly warm. I wouldn't have wanted to swim to shore from where we would've been tossed from the boat.

GPS is a nice tool, but going too fast at night in an area that you aren't 1000% sure is free of hazards is not the smartest move you can make.

I second Shamrock's statement... BE CAREFUL OUT THERE... don't rely on GPS as a navigational tool. It's real intention is more for marking things than as a navigational tool. Which is why every time you turn it on the disclaimer comes on the screen.

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Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

so...does anyone think that if these guys would have had a Lakemaster map loaded in their GPS this could have been avoided (if they were using it as an aid)?


The 2nd accident was running a 522C with the Lakemaster chip. It was not the chips fault. You can take your unit and find Everett Bay. Go straight north out of the Bay and there are 2 small islands to the right. The first accident happened on the 1st island and the 2nd accident happened on the 2nd island which really isn't much of an island. But it has trees on it. I saw no spotlights in the boats. Doesn't mean that they weren't there.


Thanks for the info...thats what I was looking for and wondering. I didn't mean to have it sound like it was the Lakemaster chips fault.

I guess I am trying to point out that if they were both watching ahead of them and following deeper water contours of a Lakemaster map (keeping to the deeper areas for navagation), and following a previous track and still hit this island......that it may open some peoples eyes that this isn't safe. I don't know if we will ever know the exact facts about this accident and what they were using for their navigation at that exact time/area. If you know let us know.

Most here are smart enough to know...and use common since. Unfortunately the number of anglers on this site (with common sense) does not compare to the total number of boaters with no common sense.

The news can say what they want about a boating accident that was caused by following a GPS....but many others (I admit such as myslef when I first got Lakemaster) would have not thought twice about relying solely on the GPS.


I didn't take your post as a slam on Lakemaster. The 1st accident had a Hummingbird unit with a lakemaster chip. Don't know for sure if it was on as it was thrown clear of the boat. 2nd accident had the 522c and it was still on with split screen and zoomed out quite a ways, when we went to secure the scene after the victims were on their way to the hospital.

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You can never be sure. Look at Walli1 that fishing the Croix all the time. Dude has fished it for like 100 years and he hit a dead head and knocked out of the boat last year. Always when it's dark take it easy. Your life is worth more than the extra 20 or 30 minutes you save from a longer boat ride.

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On Lowrance units set your 'map orientation' to 'track up' instead of 'north up'. It is much easier to follow your trail that way.

Quote:

Look at Walli1 that fishing the Croix all the time. Dude has fished it for like 100 years and he hit a dead head and knocked out of the boat last year.


Yea, you never know on the river. Walli1's posts about his experience has made me wear my life jacket more often than I used to.

Just the other night I idled into a rock pile on the St. Croix (low water levels). About 10 feet from the rocks it drops to over 20 feet deep. I mark hazards and dead heads with a waypoint on my GPS when I can see them during the day.

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