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The Radar's Point Of View

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    The Radar's Point Of View

    Greetings From New Orleans ,
    To this day , I remember being in the Pilot House of the Str. Delta Queen and listening to Capt. Howard Tate , tell me that the worst thing that the company ever did was to install a radar in the Pilot House of the Delta Queen . To my amazement , I asked Capt. Tate why he felt this way and his answer was both short and to the point , " Well , H_ _ L , Ted , now the company will now expect us to now run in the fog ! " Unfortunately , he was right and that has become an issue that many a mariner and pilot has had to come to terms with over hte years ! For those of you that seldom if ever make it into the Pilot House of really any type of vessel , be it an excursion boat or a steamboat or any type of work boat , the vessel's radar has its own perspective of what lies on the water in the vicinity of the vessel that it is loated on . Without going into the somewhat boreing details and evolutionary history of the different types and specifications of a vessel's surface radar , think of the radar's perspective as you would if you were in an airplane and simply looking down on the river and the different objects that are in the river . In the pictures I am enclosing the ship or vessel that has the radar is in the center of the picture and all other objects including the shore line and bridges show up on the radar's monitor as well . Be assured that all working pilots have their own methods and tricks with working the radar to their own advantage but if you ever have the opporunity to make it into the pilot house of a vessel , make it a point to check out the radar and what it will show the navigator or pilot as he works his trade . You'd be amazed with what these " Aids To Navigation " can do if used properly and to their full potential !
    Smooth Sailing !
    Ted Davisson
    Attached Files

    #2
    Amen, Ted! One thing I have come to realize when showing a radar display to someone who has never seen one is this: either you "get it" or you don't. I have had quite a few people (passengers on excursion boats, new deckhands and even engineers on towboats) who look at that screen and have no earthly idea what it is they are seeing, and even after it is explained to some, it is just a bunch of green lines on a black surface. I was 14 years old the first time I saw a radar display (on the DELTA QUEEN), and while I have learned some more about radar and tricks with it, and what it will and will not do, I had an understanding of it then that is close to what I know now after 34 years of staring at these wonderful machines. I wouldn't want to run a boat without one. it is the single most relied upon and important aid to navigation there is, in my book.

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      #3
      Ted et al: The question that I have, is what are the radar's limitations? Can it "see" wood and or fiberglass boats?? What with my smokestacks engines and boilers I am satisfied that they can see me, but what about Shipyard Sam in his Weaver yaw when he's sneakin off the third shift to visit home from here at the shipyard?? What with Clifford gone now, we'd have a time replacin' him...Cap'n Walnut.

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        #4
        Don't worry about Shipyard Sam in his yawl. On the rivers, unlike at sea, the gain is turned up pretty high, and the range is usually 1.5 miles or less. Fiberglass and wooden boats show up pretty well on radars on the rivers, as does drift, duck blinds, etc. You'd be surprised what shows up best...birds, ducks and geese! I often jokingly say that the Coast Guard should put feathers on buoys to make them a better radar target.

        When radar techs and manufacturers' reps meet at trade shows, the manufacturers' reps are always showing off how far away a target can be picked up (in terms of many miles). When the inland radar techs get there, they ask the reps "how CLOSE can it pick something up?" which is what a river pilot is interested in. When you're caught in fog, you would like it to show a buoy 25 feet from your boat, if possible. That's a sign of a good radar, and it is asking a lot.

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          #5
          Just a guess Cap, but are we looking at the GNO Bridge and a tow or a ship is heading up beneath it?

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            #6
            Frank , good guess but .....................

            Frank ,
            Good guess but no its not of the GNO bridges but of the Huey P. Long bridge and Upper Twelve Mile Point in the lower porton of the radar's monitor and the Avondale Shipyard on the right side of the monotor . Good guess though !





            Originally posted by Frank X. Prudent View Post
            Just a guess Cap, but are we looking at the GNO Bridge and a tow or a ship is heading up beneath it?
            Attached Files

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              #7
              Thanks, Cap! I tried, and I knew for sure it wasn't Rabbit Hash Harbor. ;)

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                #8
                My favorite thing to do on the DQ was pilothouse tours, and the pilots were good about leaving the radar and GPS on. But I never made the mistake of thinking I could really explain the radar! I would point it out, and because we were always at familiar landings, I could show buoys, bridges, etc., that pilots had shown me before. And if a towboat came through, or was moving at the landing, that was rather obvious. But more than that? Ask the pilot! However, as I also would tell the passengers: all the fancy tools in the world won't replace the meticulous attention to detail and experience of a good old-fashioned river pilot. I have been so blessed to call some my friends.

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                  #9
                  Mary did an excellent job of 'splaining the radar and the GPS, as well as other "stuff" in the pilothouse. On one tour there was a tow going past us, and the radar showed it plainly. Very neat stuff, but, as she always points out, it's only as good as the talented, experienced folks at the sticks and in the house are.
                  Miss y'all! Have a happy Thanksgiving!
                  S'
                  David D.

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                    #10
                    OK, That explains it! This very green tree hugger would always wonder why the Delta Queen radar, s...ing all kinds of big time kilowatts from her generators, was still swinging when we were stuck in port. I got it now, used to p... me off ROYALLY at the time...

                    So Mary you were the culprit...? I always blamed it on somebody too lazy to flip the OFF switch...!

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                      #11
                      Rabbit Hash Harbor Radar

                      For safety sake, as long as a pilothouse is manned and equipped with that wonderful machine, the radar set should be turned on and operating with the thin sweep line painting a picture of all that it encompasses. That's my take, and I, too, love to caress a lovely tree.

                      As we speak, I can look over my left shoulder and get a clear picture of the Rabbit Hash Harbor and all the surrounding neighborhood. Tonight is a dark and windy night, but I can see that no intruders (or loose barges) are slipping up on the shipyard. Who can see the returns caused by a 20 mph upstream blow? What sharp eyes can detect my Weaver Skiff bobbing like a cork below the General Store?

                      That indentation in the shore line at the upper right-hand corner of the picture is the mouth of Middle Creek, mile 504.4, on the left descending bank of the beautiful Ohio River.

                      The radar can also be used to detect an oncoming weather frontal system and determine the direction and speed of an approaching storm, and whether it will hit, or miss, the viewer's location. Rabbit Hash radar can also see airplanes in the vicinity of the CVG airport as small dots that skip across the screen and suddenly disappear as quickly as they appeared. Who knows why?

                      Pic #1: A quiet RH harbor. Not a critter a'stir.
                      Pic # 2: Down-bound tow at a distance of .379 nm and a relative bearing of 14.7 degrees.
                      Attached Files

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                        #12
                        Bruno, you had better believe, I did not touch ANYTHING up in that pilothouse! If the radar was not on when I got there, I didn't turn it on! But it sure was great to see a towboat coming when it was time to explain the radar.
                        Once I was up there in Louisville, and saw the Belle of Louisville headed our way. What to do? I knew she would blow her whistle, but I wasn't going to touch ours! Just then, the phone rang. It was Captain Finley Fraser. He said, "Mary, you go ahead and blow that whistle." Fortunately, I'd watched that excellent "whistle blower" many times, and knew just how to get a good sound (not as good as he could!). The folks gathered for that tour saw me literally jump up and down, it was so much fun!

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                          #13
                          Mary,

                          I remember a time in Paducah (back in 2006) when you were "navigating" on radar and you did just fine! Didn't kill a soul! Although, weren't a tow and a bridge in peril? Or, was that me?

                          Travis

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                            #14
                            Mary,
                            I believe that was the time we were onboard the BOL, as I remember someone saying it was you blowin' the whistle. Mighty fine, too---and I was AND AM green with envy! I've blown the whistle on many a steam locomotive, and some small steam launches, but the DQ's is the holy grail!
                            S'
                            David D.

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                              #15
                              Travis, that was you! I got those barges through the riverfront just fine--though it was due to Captain Greg Menke standing right next to me!! And David, you're right--a bunch of DQ folks were on the Belle that day.
                              And I believe we've hijacked Captain Ted's thread!!

                              Comment

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