Test Your Piloting Skills on this Florida Cruise
Meet Ralph & Ed, members of the USPS Hoosier Sail & Power Squadron, and the squadron's own answer to, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."
Ralph & Ed are always talking about taking some of the squadron's nautical courses and are "real close" to signing up one of these days. But, after all, they are experienced boaters, so what is the hurry.
One day Ralph said "Ed, lets get away next week and head down to the Gulf for some fun on the water - - I hear the Pompano are biting."
So off they went, pulling a hastily packed boat, refreshments, lots of food, more refreshments and a full complement of nautical gear, guaranteed to keep them safe and snug while plying the waters of the Gulf.
Saturday morning, 0530, at the boat ramp, 33.2 statute miles southeast of Panama City, Fl. That would be approximately 17 NM, 29 NM, or 40 NM (circle one) if expressed in nautical miles. By the way, if Ed was in a boat, traveling the same distance from Panama City to the boat ramp, and was cruising at 6.7 knots, what would be his approximate travel time, 1 hour, 4 1/2 hours, or 10 hours (circle one).
Ed said, "the guy at the bait shop told me they were knocking them dead at the harbor entrances, so I was hoping we could head over to Eagle Harbor. He said Eagle Harbor has been real hot the last couple of days and besides, they have some new boats in the showroom just up the river at Millers Landing."
Will Ralph & Ed attempt the trip to Eagle Harbor; will they arrive safe; will Ed see those new boats at Millers Landing? If Ed uses speed, time and distance to calculate his position as they travel along this track, what is he using, Loran, Dead Reckoning, Piloting, Radar (circle one)? If they use terrestrial objects or conditions external to their vessel to establish a position, are they using Piloting or Dead Reckoning (circle one)? If Ralph establishes a bearing on Mule Head light, he can then chart a Line of Position, a Circle of Position or a Line of Motion (circle one).
Saturday morning finds our friends at 0950, approaching the entrance to Eagle Harbor, C275, S6.0, visibility poor with intermittent fog.
"Pretty soon," said Ralph, "we should be coming into the harbor. Trouble is, I can't see more than 20 meters in this weather. You have the chart out Ed, tell me where I should be looking for some nuns and cans. They should be numbered, odd for the cans & even for the nuns." Is Ralph correct or incorrect (circle one)?
Ed studied the chart and announced, "It says here that we should see a buoy marked RW MoA. I'm pretty sure that's where we want to go. I know this is Morse Code for the letter A. So look for a light sequence of a short flash, followed by a long flash, followed by a period of darkness. It tells us where the mid channel safe water is." "No way" said Ralph "they don't use Morse code on marine buoy's". Who is right, Ed or Ralph (circle one)?
"There it is Ed," shouted Ralph. We're home free now. Lets scoot on up to Millers Landing and get out of this weather. I see a ‘can' up ahead, it's in front of that point where the channel splits. I'm going to bear to starboard when we get there, because I know Millers is on the preferred channel." Did Ralph make a good or bad decision (circle one)?
You know what" said Ed "I just noticed that you passed a red buoy to our left and we are heading up river from the sea. Ralph, I think you have gotten us out of the safe water channel; didn't you memorize the saying, red-right-returning?" Is Ed correct or incorrect with this announcement (circle one)?
"Ed, you might be right, because now I see a buoy with black & red horizontal bands. I think that means, keep me to starboard to avoid danger." "Wrong again Captain Nemo" shouted Ed, that's an isolated danger mark. You need to stay away from it and get back to mid channel." Who is right, Ed or Ralph (circle one)?
Our intrepid fishermen did in fact arrive at Millers Landing with boat and occupants intact. After some coffee and a thorough look at all of the new boats and equipment in the showroom, they decided it was time for lunch and then a run on up to Indian Pass (where, according to the lady at the lunch counter, the fish are really hitting).
If you think these adventures sound like fun and would like to feel confident handling similar situations, you are probably a good candidate for some nautical classes with the United States Power Squadron. To sign up for a class, click HERE.