All at Sea - The Navigator Issue 6

01 Jun 2014 The Navigator

In the last edition of The Navigator, we discussed ECDIS. For this issue, we asked the Nautical Institute’s Sea-going Correspondence Group for their personal opinions and experiences of radar. The responses, from officers at all stages of their careers – from third mate to Commodore – cover a wide range of topics.

Never take anything seen on a radar screen at face value. Always crosscheck either visually or with an alternative independent system. Never assume!

Collision avoidance
On vessels fitted with two radars, I would advise that one should be dedicated to navigation and the other to collision avoidance.
Tracking too many targets can mentally overload the navigator in high traffic areas. Only targets of interest need to be acquired and tracked.

Radar returns are not an exact match for charted features, and errors are
frequently not quantifiable. Everyone needs to practise!
I use radar, along with visual lookout, as the primary method for navigating our district. I consider ECS, AIS etc. as supplementary aids.

Identifying targets
Utilizing target trails of suitable length (looking at wake) with relative vectors (looking-ahead) provides the best visual information about a target.
It’s great to be able to plop a plot on anything and see how the target compares when it pops up on the ECDIS screen. Brilliant!

Using vectors
When the accent is put on navigation, then it is important to have a true/relative motion and true vectors. True vectors with a proper set of time/length could render quick and adequate information regarding the ship motion with regard to shore and shore/fixed hazards.
A vector should be short enough to help readily show direction, but not so long as to be confused with the ship’s heading marker.

Training and familiarisation
Trial manoeuvres are both useful and used – a real lifesaver.
A lot of self-teaching goes on, and some radar displays are more userfriendly than others. If an unfamiliar user wants to find, say, a simple tool and has to search down through a number of menu layers to access it on a dark night on an unfamiliar vessel, this can present its own hazards.

We are always interested in hearing your views on the important topics discussed in this publication.
Contact the editor, Emma Ward at [email protected], or look out for the LinkedIn discussion. The next issue looks at electronic charts.
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