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How the "Information Age" has changed yachting

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by wdrzal, Nov 15, 2006.

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  1. wdrzal

    wdrzal Senior Member

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    While a steady progression of technology has been seen throughout history, It would be hard to argue against how a little thing called the "CPU" and a much larger one called the "Internet" made all of the Rapid advancements in all aspect of Yachting possible not to mention how it has affected all aspects of our Life. But its not only super and giga-yachts owners who pushed available technology to the limits, in most cases developing proprietary mechanicals ,hull forms , propulsion,and not to forget to mention PC hardware along with proprietary software to run it,but advancements have show up across the board.

    I thought this thread would be a good place to mention how the "Information Age" has affected you or or job in the industry ,or for designers & builders to add how and what advancements they used the CPU and Net for,and what is in store for the future.
  2. Cpu

    When I was selling boats back in the 1980's my clients would walk in the door and not have any idea of what boats were for sale around the area, the asking prices, or what was available at my dock.

    Now many of my clients know more about a particular boat than I do. They see every boat on the internet, and follow that little segment of the market. If they want a Lazzara, they know every one that is available right now.

    I still know more about boats than 99% of them, but they have the information available to them that was never available before.

    This has changed the way yachts are sold, I repeat myself saying the internet is a boat show 7 days a week 365 days a year.
  3. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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    Let's look at the aspects of running a boat, not by a professional but by the recreational boater. Years ago, you had to learn how to read, plot, navigator and follow a course on a paper chart. Many folks found the charts and "all the little numbers" confusing. But us captains had to pass a rigorous test to show our aptitude with these huge sheets or books, usually too large for the helm station. Now, almost every new boat has an option for a chartplotter of some sort. Here, the power of a PC is the foundation for anyone to "make believe" they know what they are doing. I say make believe because even though us who know how to manage charts have transitioned to the electronic version, many boaters out there have never seen a paper chart, and probably couldn't tell you what most of the symbols are for either. They see a new toy, a "computer" that will solve the problems of running aground or getting lost, but most likely don't know the fundamentals of the charts or what to do with a chart if their chartplotter crapped out. Ask recreational boaters about running a fix, dead reckoning, even set and drift, and you will most likely get a "deer in the headlights" look. I'm not saying all are like this, but a good number are (I have tought a few of them in my day, usually after they had a near-miss, or near-death experience on their boat).
    So the advent of the computer has made life easier and better on the water, but also made the inexperienced and little more dangerous (what's so hard about running a straight line on the chartplotter?).
  4. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    I have to agree with CaptTom on this. Chartplotters are small miracles and I love them as much as I hate them. In our archipelago people trust them as if they were radars and you see boats in high speed without watching out in the dark. There has already been a good number of boats running up on the islands and also collisions due to this.

    Just a few weeks ago we delivered a brand new boat to Norway and on one of the first trips there were three guys going out at daytime. After dark they set off to go home on the same plotted track in about 35 knots I guess. This was in open waters, but there was a rock and they hit it in full speed. The boat sank instantly and they were left swimming in the cold for three hours and sitting on a rock for another three before reported missing and a helicopter found them. They were lucky to survive, but it is another example that you can not trust the chartplotters, since sometimes they or the charts are not 100 percent right.
  5. TRY

    TRY Senior Member

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    The world is flat!

    Not me who invented this theory, but Thomas Friedmann (3 times Pulitzer Prize!)
    Well worth reading (or studying), not only for yachting business (or is that a 4-letter word?) but for business and life in general.

    Frontiers and barriers are gone, walls and ceilings have been taken out, from North- to South-pole - from Alaska to Siberia, everyone at every level can talk, dialogue (there's a little difference), exchange, work, team-up with anyone else by the use of a keyboard and some wizzardry software.

    Individuals now turn into multinationals and multi-tasking around the workd has become childplay right through the time-zones. Work, projects, play, but also the dark-side-of-man can go on 24/24 hours.

    For better or for worse. Much to the dislike of authorities and other big-brothers.

    Without the flat world this online community wouldn't even exist!

    Now go and read the book, have fun!
  6. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    Having for a long time been a bit of a stickler for not using chart plotters because of the above mentioned reason, I found myself running a vessel with 2 both interfaced with the autopilot and everything else onboard that can be hooked up to the NEMA network. I decided to give it a go, well no disasters but I quickly realised that while on watch I got very bored had to fight very hard from going to sleep, missed my hourly log entries (usually not by much) and in general became a sloppy watchkeeper. While I can rest easy while off watch that we are on course, I am also concerned that maybe the person on watch is also resting easy :eek:

    I also found that I had to have a long discussion with the boss about the cost of paper charts and associated equipment and why I was insisting that they were onboard. Once I had made my various points he agreed, however it seems that my predesessor had convinced him otherwise on the basis of avalibility of storage space on the bridge which admitedly is a bit short, not in my mind a good argument when you are sitting on the bricks.

    However on the otherhand as many of you know I have an interest in design and believe whole hartedly in 3D drafting and design. Potentially a brilliant tool that can save untold hours during the construction process.

    Not to mention the internet. Well where would we all be without YACHTFORUMS :D
  7. wdrzal

    wdrzal Senior Member

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    Yes, when President Clinton made GPS available no longer did Captains on the water or in the air have to use navigation aids and take fixes and cross reference and double check to the degree prior........While we know this is a mistake not too,electronics have made navigation easier.A quick Glance at your moving map and you know exactly where you are. Now, the low budget guy just has to stroll to the closest electronic store to buy a GPS receiver.

    Even the most experienced in navigating, before the GPS , you always had that little voice in the back of your mind saying ,are you where you think you are? I know that voice is not as prevalent as it used to be . I think that can be a danger,but have we come to trust our electronic wizardry to much ? I would bet the causal yachtsmen in the younger generation does not even know how to navigate otherwise.
  8. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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    Just a side note: regardless of the type or size of yacht I run, and no matter the distance, I always bring my own paper charts and they are always within reach of the helm. If nothing else, I find it easier to look ahead on the paper chart than rolling the screen a few dozen times, as well as for planning the next day's journey. One case in point: I was running north in the ICW in Bogue SOund (NC) when the chip on the plotter reached the boundary and I couldn't find the next chip until later on. It was blowing with rain showers so visability wasn't great. The paper chart (and a 80 foot Ferretti leading the way) got me to Beaufort in one piece.
  9. techmati

    techmati Senior Member

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    from the surveyors point of view, that we can have so much information at our fingertips via the internet is excellent. Not only in yachting but also in commercial shipping, that we can also find via the internet contacts and sources in far off places so easy is great.

    Then via the internet forums we are discussing issues and learning from each other and developing a global view, not just what we know locally. Or we are generating business via our company website and reaching new clients in far off places.

    What are we doing inside the office, well we are practically desktop publishing these days. issuing reports which look great instantly to any point of the globe via pdf.

    digital photography is excellent also. no need to minimise the amount of photos taken and with 6-8 megapixel it is nice to be able to zoom right in and check some detail or read something. No need to take so many notes, everything can be photographed even papers. Shuffling through the pics, you can practically do the survey again. with a laptop you could issue a professional report on board after the survey with photographs if time was short.

    Even the surveyor on site in some far off place can upload pics via gprs or wifi to get immediate advice from the rest of the office. or photographs can be sent by crew in a problematic situation by inmarsat to get immediate technical advice.
  10. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    As I mentioned some time ago about my experiance with chartplotters interfaced with everything else. Some 6000 miles later we religiously use a watchkeeper alarm set to go off every 15 minutes and will keep on going off until it is acknowledged. We havent done so but it is possible to have it hooked up to the ships general alarm with a timed delay. As yet there has been no need for that.
  11. Codger

    Codger YF Wisdom Dept.

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    Troubleshooting and schematics?

    Are the suppliers of the various systems aboard yachts making technical information available to the extent that you'd like?
    Some manufacturers of equipment that is used on land as well as offshore have made everything available as PDFs, including updated troubleshooting guides. Makes it easier to store all this documentation on a couple of drives rather than the many cubic metres of space that used to be required for hard copy binders. There are still those dinosaurs out there that insist on selling voluminous hard copy. Perhaps just a function of age, but I like using the zoom function of a computer display on a schematic rather than finding a magnifying glass.
    What's the situation from a yacht engineer's point of view?
  12. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    In my experience, there can never be enough of printed manuals and drawings onboard. For several reasons. You can bring them to the subject you are working on and compare drawings to reality. Secondly and most important, many drawings are not corrected to the installations on your yacht and notes in the margin are very helpful. Also notes on repairs and replacement parts used that not always correspond to what you could find on a PDF from a CD or stored in a computer.

    And I don´t like to give Murphy any chance of a computer blackout when I need this information badly...:)
  13. techmati

    techmati Senior Member

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    it is possible to annotate pdf files if you have the full version of the software, although it is indeed very necessary to bring plans to the actual place of work during servicing and for discussion with contractors.

    paper manuals still very useful for reading on toilet.....:D

    the useful thing about electronic records is the possibility to synchronise the onboard info with the managers over the sat. lots of technical management programs these days which make the engineers job much easier. class info is also electronic over the net and easier to understand the current position and future scheduling with summary pages.

    actually i was reading some C/E handover reports last week. which were quite funny

    "do not use computer in E/R it has VIRUS...use one in master's office"
    "computer in E/R became very BAD......they change mother card and now no more problem"

    very important to backup the data on onboard computers......dont trust hard disks.....
  14. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    I agree totally with having everything on paper, just in case. But I would like to see an electronic ships manual layered to each and every system onboard with corresponing information information about each piece in the system viewable on screen.

    For example from a 3d view of the vessel layer it down so you have a 3d view of say the ships hydraulic system then be able to zoom in on each sub system see what it is attached to, what panels need to be removed to access. Also if the manufacturer of the equipment has drawings that they are incorperated into the system.


    But when the **** hits the fan you are going to need paper :D
  15. nilo

    nilo Senior Member

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    I believe the success of such a set up is how the data of the specific boat is inserted in the system and who does it. If the data is input by the person(s) who will use it at a later stage; of course after they have the basic training; then it is highly likely that it will be very handy to use afterwards. Also, it is essential that the other users are trained properly by the same person(s) who has input the data. The upside of such a system is not to store the manuals in an electronic environment, but to have the installations clearly stored and defined, so that anybody who attends the issue will be able to do so without the need of sorting out a maze.
  16. Codger

    Codger YF Wisdom Dept.

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    Regarding portability. Carrying a laptop with everything loaded including updates is done on shore. Is it really easier to carry a paper loaded 5 inch binder to a specific area of a vessel? Automatic backups are done daily to DVD from every desktop and laptop, just a matter of course in my world.
    Updating a tech master file so that all that have access are current has worked better for us than sending out updated pages that were actually entered in to the appropriate binders.

    I'm trying to imagine just how many physical pages of information would be required to cover all the systems and components on an 80 metre yacht. Must be one heck of a library.
  17. techmati

    techmati Senior Member

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    one of the problems i see with computer data received from onboard is that the system may be designed for computer analysis later on. this leads to checklists and multiple choice questions on occasion.

    So you have records like satisfactory/unsatisfactory but then data is actually being lost. It is good to receive that info and have the computer analysis but also to have some discussion recorded about how the C/E feels about some machinery items. This is very useful in case he is making a bad decision, when actually it was not satisfactory or might be at present but in the short term there will happen a big problem. Very important for the management company to be in tune with what is happening on board and investigate when they see something is maybe wrong.

    we have the same thing in survey reports for insurance companies. many checklists and multiple choice for computer analysis. but this is not revealing the actual knowledge and experience of the surveyor, something which would be blindingly obvious when reading a report in narrative rather than form/checklist format.

    nice to have checklists and forms for computer analysis but do they become instead a kind of tally where the item is not being inspected properly and there is not enough data for the reader to realise that.

    this is one reason why any material from management companies must always be relevant to the onboard activities. if most of the form is answered as not applicable then the crew will not respect the form and not do their job.

    from the management side, good records are very important not only for the day to day running and good budgeting of the yacht but also in the case of an insurance claim. documentary evidence will be very useful to prove that the yacht was being properly managed.
  18. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Yes, it use to be a metre or two of manuals and drawings. But you take out just one for each job so it is much easier than a laptop to carry.

    But again, to get everything in a usable PC-format is almost impossible. Most yachts are one-off builds and the drawings of the systems are almost never finalized until the boat is finished. And what you get are just principal drawings, not including locations of wires and pipes. To make a 3D of every wire for every gadget will probably cost millions. And the same goes for every installation onboard, toilets, aircond, fridge and freezers, multimedia, hydraulics, pneumatics, cooling systems, lubrication with centrifuges and what have you. There are so many systems and so many "last minute" installations that you are happy if you get the manufacturers manuals onboard.

    But the real 3D picture of everything installed clearly visible is just something you can afford in aviation, space or the nuclear industries I am afraid...
  19. Codger

    Codger YF Wisdom Dept.

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    AMG
    Just looking for clarification.
    Does this mean that the original CAD files are not updated during the build, prior to final sea trials? So that even if the vessel were taken back to the original build yard, they would not definitively know where every pipe, hydraulic line and control cable was actualy situated?
  20. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    I have at least never seen such a complete package of 3D files on a private yacht...:confused:

    As a simple example, an ice-maker on the sundeck, do you think there are drawings on where the wires and pipes goes in reality all the way...?