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Navigation - Channel Buoy Compass Headings

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CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
Has anyone seen a map with detailed compass headings to get from marker to marker North/South up and down the lake?

We have a GPS with Navionics+ which works beautifully... but as a Marine I also know sh*t hits the fan when you least expect it.

If we were traveling in a severe storm or at night due to unforeseen circumstances, I’d like to be able to navigate from one buoy to the next using exact compass headings and a map.

Any suggestions? Or does mapping this out need to be our Public Service Project this summer?
 
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Dungee

Well-Known Member
The south might be a different story, but up on the far north end buoy placement/navigation by them is a crap shoot. Seems every trip a different one is lost, pushed up against the bank, etc.. They did just recently add lights to some however which in theory is nice/helpful if placement remained consistent.
 

CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
The south might be a different story, but up on the far north end buoy placement/navigation by them is a crap shoot. Seems every trip a different one is lost, pushed up against the bank, etc.. They did just recently add lights to some however which in theory is nice/helpful if placement remained consistent.

Hey are you the guy I see in those YouTube videos catching a boat-load of Stripers in boils with your son Nixon? Very cool.

As for the markers: On the South of the lake, we've never seen one of the main channel markers go missing except just after a severe storm, or if some bozo runs into one and breaks it free. Down this end of the lake, the Park Service is pretty diligent about fixing them though so I think they're fairly reliable. Whether or not they go back in the same location is certainly a good question.

It would be useful to have compass headings in general though so I didn't have to rely on tech to get from A to B.

I just don't trust tech, and the craftsman in me always like to know how to do things manually vs relying upon tools. Learn the fundamentals, then get all the tech to enhance the experience.
 

CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
That’s us!
View attachment 1677
We have these for both the north and south and they have the channel/mike markers on them. They sure don’t fluctuate with the water though ha.
Thanks.

Do you know if the map gives compass headings to get from one marker to the next?

e.g. your GPS isn't working and you can't see landmarks due to a storm. You can use a map and a good ole' fashioned compass to get from one marker to the next, staying generally in the center of the channel to ensure you don't run into any rocks or a wall.
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
Your idea is good - I’ve never heard of that kind of map.

We could create a google doc so many people could collaborate to create one.

In the meantime a powerful spotlight swept across the water at night will pickup the reflective material on the ATONs from a long way off.
 

davew

Well-Known Member
question I have --- are all the channel markers line of sight with no danger in a straight line between them? I have to believe that on some of them if you use a straight compass heading between one and another, you might be in trouble
reminds me of the movie / book hunt for red October -- "give me a map and stopwatch and I can fly the alps in a plane with no windows" ---- "as long as your map is good enough"
 

John P Funk

Well-Known Member
It's tough enough to navigate from Red Canyon to Farley in the light of day. I can't imagine doing it in the dark with no light based on compass readings, and a stopwatch. The north end of the lake doesn't get the "attention" that the southern lake gets, and some of us like it that way. I wouldn't even attempt to navigate the "horn" at night unless there was significant moonlight.
 

Goblin

Well-Known Member
Thanks.

Do you know if the map gives compass headings to get from one marker to the next?

e.g. your GPS isn't working and you can't see landmarks due to a storm. You can use a map and a good ole' fashioned compass to get from one marker to the next, staying generally in the center of the channel to ensure you don't run into any rocks or a wall.
Dead Reckoning at Lake Powell:
  1. Dead Reckoning navigation aka DR aka Time-Distance-Heading.
  2. DR is unthinkable unless you have good visibility. Blind DR is fraught with peril, "The Hunt for Red October" notwithstanding.
  3. Consider DR as an emergency procedure because:
    • All maps are wrong.
    • The ATONs are not always in the same spot depending on lake levels.
    • A straight line between two ATONs is not always guaranteed to be rock free.
    • A mag compass can be horribly inaccurate due to inherent errors of acceleration, turning, variation, deviation, dip, turbulence.
    • A mag compass should only be considered somewhat reliable in straight & level unaccelerated flight boating.
If you are still planning DR as a backup nav mode keep in mind:
  1. As to your question: Headings can be easily pulled from any GPS or GPS mapping program that has the ATON positions plotted. Do this, of course, in advance. You can also pull True Headings from a plotted ATON off of a paper map provided it has lat/longs on it & YOU have a nav plotter. That skill is mostly a lost art in this techno-age but it is still doable.
  2. REMEMBER that a mag compass reads Magnetic Headings and not True Headings. This variation can be close to 20 degrees on Lake Powell. Mistakes are very common when going back and forth between Mag & True Headings. A 15 to 20 degree error in blind DR could be catastrophic.
  3. Scope out possible deviation from your boat's compass mounting. There is no manufacturer requirement to 'gnat's a**' deviation from mounting errors in a pleasure boat. Deviation can be huge depending on location.
If you are still with me I give two possible recommendations that I use. Honest!
  1. Align a sewing needle with Magnetic North and then strike it with a hammer. This will magnetize the needle. Then push the needle through a cork horizontally. The cork can then be placed in a saucer of water to make your very own portable Magnetic Compass. It can also be used floating in Lake Powell in your life vest after your boat sinks from hitting rocks while using DR. At least you will always know which way is North.o_O
  2. Always remember the pilot's technique when working with maps (or anything really): "Measure it with a micrometer. Mark it with a grease pencil. Then cut it with an axe."
  3. Finally, I recommend you just NOT DR and lie about it. That is my technique and it gives much greater freedom when telling a war story. ergoupload_2018-2-23_13-30-22.png
Everything written above is TRUE! or was that MAGNETIC?:eek:
FWIW,
Goblin
 
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CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
Dude you are cracking me up. Good stuff.

I once navigated 27 miles in the Mohave dessert with nothing more than a quality map, a military grade lensatic compass, and ended up within 100 yards of (and found) a geo-cache filled with water, beef Jerky, cigars, and a flask of whisky.

T’was the second best day of my life.


Dead Reckoning at Lake Powell:
  1. Dead Reckoning navigation aka DR aka Time-Distance-Heading.
  2. DR is unthinkable unless you have good visibility. Blind DR is fraught with peril, "The Hunt for Red October" notwithstanding.
  3. Consider DR as an emergency procedure because:
    • All maps are wrong.
    • The ATONs are not always in the same spot depending on lake levels.
    • A straight line between two ATONs is not always guaranteed to be rock free.
    • A mag compass can be horribly inaccurate due to inherent errors of acceleration, turning, variation, deviation, dip, turbulence.
    • A mag compass should only be considered somewhat reliable in straight & level unaccelerated flight boating.
If you are still planning DR as a backup nav mode keep in mind:
  1. As to your question: Headings can be easily pulled from any GPS or GPS mapping program that has the ATON positions plotted. Do this, of course, in advance. You can also pull True Headings from a plotted ATON off of a paper map provided it has lat/longs on it & YOU have a nav plotter. That skill is mostly a lost art in this techno-age but it is still doable.
  2. REMEMBER that a mag compass reads Magnetic Headings and not True Headings. This variation can be close to 20 degrees on Lake Powell. Mistakes are very common when going back and forth between Mag & True Headings. A 15 to 20 degree error in blind DR could be catastrophic.
  3. Scope out possible deviation from your boat's compass mounting. There is no manufacturer requirement to 'gnat's a**' deviation from mounting errors in a pleasure boat. Deviation can be huge depending on location.
If you are still with me I give two possible recommendations that I use. Honest!
  1. Align a sewing needle with Magnetic North and then strike it with a hammer. This will magnetize the needle. Then push the needle through a cork horizontally. The cork can then be placed in a saucer of water to make your very own portable Magnetic Compass. It can also be used floating in Lake Powell in your life vest after your boat sinks from hitting rocks while using DR. At least you will always know which way is North.o_O
  2. Always remember the pilot's technique when working with maps (or anything really): "Measure it with a micrometer. Mark it with a grease pencil. Then cut it with an axe."
  3. Finally, I recommend you just NOT DR and lie about it. That is my technique and it gives much greater freedom when telling a war story. ergoView attachment 1679
Everything written above is TRUE! or was that MAGNETIC?:eek:
FWIW,
Goblin
 

bubba

Well-Known Member
At altitude DR or point to point at night while above highest obstacle in sector is one thing, trying to duplicate that technique at Powell even at high noon on a calm day will put you in the rocks.

Buoys move and break loose all the time. The only way I would run at night is with a fresh track on the gps. I certainly would not do it in a storm. With a good track and in my boat I would go, and have done so many times.

For me the biggest spook at night is the white ducks, they scare you good when you come up on a fleet of them floating, but they really scare you once they get into the air flying around like blind pin balls.

For backup to your gps get an iPhone or iPad with the Navionics app.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
While working at stateline for ten years and on the water constantly, many times at night out of necessity not choice, It was always sketchy. Saw some of the most beautiful things ever,such as the big dipper exactly mirrored on a glassy surface going through Padre in the main channel on a pitch black night, unreal lightening on the Paria Plateau and Lees Ferry, but always the feeling in the pit of my stomach was there,waiting for something loud. I have grazed unlit buoys, passed blacked out NPS boats and fought wind storms. I knew the lake as well as anyone and I maintain only a professional would choose to navigate Powell at night and only then cause it's part of the job. I know circumstances call for it on occasion but all it takes is one moment of confusion or another boat sitting out there without anchor lights and your done. You can have the best Nav equipment in the world and I ain't going with you. You might as well have a cork and needle. You know those buoys that broke loose last storm, promise you don't want to find one of them unless you're real close to a floating restroom. Just my two cents. Bubba, did you work at Wahweap?
 

CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
I fully appreciate the danger out there.

My question was born out of one simple motivation:

The first time I navigated Lake Powell was last June. Everyone told us "If you just follow the channel markers you can't get lost".

We got lost.

We found that on summer days there are a lot of reflections and glare and you absolutely can't see the next channel marker until you get within a couple hundred meters of it.

So the Marine inside me thought "Why don't they give headings you can generally follow to the next buoy?"

If I had that basic bit of information I could at least navigate in the general direction of the next buoy then get a visual fix and move on.

Even in broad daylight, with good maps, and an awareness of what's around me, navigating from one end of Powell to the other is difficult, I get it.

Having the compass headings from one marker to the next would simply be one more tool to use, making that journey a little easier.

The idea of using dead reckoning as my only way of navigation, blindly ignoring submerged dangers, rock walls, and other boats - wasn't meant to enter this conversation. You must assume I'm hyper-focused on those dangers at all times no matter what I'm doing out there.

The idea of using it at night is nothing more than a Plan-B in the off-chance we had an emergency and needed to get somewhere at night (heart attack, bad injury, etc.)

So the question isn't meant to imbue bravado and insinuate I'm capable of doing things others can't do (or too stupid to understand the dangers :)

But rather a discussion about leveraging the basics of navigation, using simple tools that don't "break" when a storm hits or a battery dies.

Make sense?

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's replies. Lot's of sage advice.
 
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CHRIS MCBETH

Well-Known Member
While working at stateline for ten years and on the water constantly, many times at night out of necessity not choice, It was always sketchy. Saw some of the most beautiful things ever,such as the big dipper exactly mirrored on a glassy surface going through Padre in the main channel on a pitch black night, unreal lightening on the Paria Plateau and Lees Ferry, but always the feeling in the pit of my stomach was there,waiting for something loud. I have grazed unlit buoys, passed blacked out NPS boats and fought wind storms. I knew the lake as well as anyone and I maintain only a professional would choose to navigate Powell at night and only then cause it's part of the job. I know circumstances call for it on occasion but all it takes is one moment of confusion or another boat sitting out there without anchor lights and your done. You can have the best Nav equipment in the world and I ain't going with you. You might as well have a cork and needle. You know those buoys that broke loose last storm, promise you don't want to find one of them unless you're real close to a floating restroom. Just my two cents. Bubba, did you work at Wahweap?

If the channel markers never changed positions that would be feasible, but they do change, a lot.

Understood. Perhaps technology and GPS maps are the only way to go about navigating in a night time emergency.

The deepest part of the channels never changes regardless of lake levels. So I guess if I chart a series of waypoints and mark in 1 mile increments and save that, as long as our GPS is working we can always use those same path's to traverse the area at night at low speeds without too much danger.
 

Squirrel

Well-Known Member
If the channel markers never changed positions that would be feasible, but they do change, a lot.

I have every channel marker as a set point in the GPS program on my HB 859 from the San Juan to the horn up north. This is when they were where they are supposed to be, in the middle of the channel. If my GPS should go out I am screwed except for the hard copy maps I keep on the boat. I would rather hole-up than navigate at night, except in an emergency. Sq

Chris, I was typing the same time as you.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
Makes sense,just saying be careful

I fully appreciate the danger out there.

My question was born out of one simple motivation:

The first time I navigated Lake Powell was last June. Everyone told us "If you just follow the channel markers you can't get lost".

We got lost.

We found that on summer days there are a lot of reflections and glare and you absolutely can't see the next channel marker until you get within a couple hundred meters of it.

So the Marine inside me thought "Why don't they give headings you can generally follow to the next buoy?"

If I had that basic bit of information I could at least navigate in the general direction of the next buoy then get a visual fix and move on.

Even in broad daylight, with good maps, and an awareness of what's around me, navigating from one end of Powell to the other is difficult, I get it.

Having the compass headings from one marker to the next would simply be one more tool to use, making that journey a little easier.

The idea of using dead reckoning as my only way of navigation, blindly ignoring submerged dangers, rock walls, and other boats - wasn't meant to enter this conversation. You must assume I'm hyper-focused on those dangers at all times no matter what I'm doing out there.

The idea of using it at night is nothing more than a Plan-B in the off-chance we had an emergency and needed to get somewhere at night (heart attack, bad injury, etc.)

So the question isn't meant to imbue bravado and insinuate I'm capable of doing things others can't do (or too stupid to understand the dangers :)

But rather a discussion about leveraging the basics of navigation, using simple tools that don't "break" when a storm hits or a battery dies.

Make sense?

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's replies. Lot's of sage advice.
 

Meatwagon

Well-Known Member
I always carry a set of binoculars 8 x32, helps in the big bays and in unfamiliar areas of the lake. After awhile you get more familiar with their location and know when you pass one which direction you need to look to find the next one.
 
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