INACCURATE SURVEYS HUMAN DIGITIZING ERROR
I found the helm opposite the galley imposingly high, with twin bolstered seats atop a cabinet, but that height is needed to see over the equally high dashboard with twin Raymarine monitors and, once settled on these thrones, they were quite comfy. The window next to the skipper has a sliding panel and this particular 66 had what I thought was a clever touch: Instead of placing the joystick control in the middle of the dash (pretty useless for maneuvering), it was moved to the window ledge next to the shifter/throttles. Thus a skipper can stand on the side deck with the window open and control docking with excellent visibility. It’s a great solution for short-handed cruisers.
What will certainly make most skippers drool on longdistance cruises is the flybridge, which seems to stretch out to the horizon. It starts well forward of amidships and goes all the way to the transom, providing shade for the cockpit below, and it’s how Azimut utilized this space that is most impressive.
Like every good tramp freighter, the Magellano 66 has a sturdy mast at mid-bridge, carrying an array of electronics on several levels, as well as (on our test yacht) a fiberglass hardtop to shade the forward bridge. Under that shade is the upper helm, plus pure decadence with an aft-facing couch and a large settee with a teak dining table facing a fiberglass console with Kenyon grill. Alas, no sea rail on that counter to keep a plate of steaks from skating into the deep blue.
Azimut has thoughtfully left open the entire after portion of the teak-planked bridge, so owners can create their own landscape. One could put a dinette there but, my gosh, there are already alfresco dinettes everywhere: forward on the bridge,
accurate one to use. They relied exclusively on this and the ship’s GPS for navigation. Had they consulted paper charts or “Sailing Directions and Light Lists” carried on board, they would have found various mismatched coordinates, particularly for a light on a neighboring reef, which was clearly visible before Guardian grounded. These discrepancies would have sounded the alarm and indicated the inaccuracy of the coastal chart. The accident was entirely the result of over-reliance on the electronic chart.
After this expensive incident, the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), which is the exclusive supplier of digital charts to the U.S. Navy, reviewed other charts and in one case found the south coast of Chile to be 4.4 miles out of position. It is a dark night in January 2010 with the wind blowing 30 knots. The Cork Clipper, one of a fleet of round-the-world racing boats, is making 10 knots in moderately rough seas on a broad reach to the northeast, approaching the Gosong Mampango reef in Indonesia. The electronic chart shows a lighthouse and racon (radar beacon). The skipper has plotted a course to pass 0.6 miles southeast of the reef and then head up to the north, hard on the wind. Closing in on the reef, there is no sign of the light and the racon cannot be picked up on the radar. Around 0400 the electronic chart displays the Cork Clipper’s position as 0.63 miles to the southeast of the reef. The heading is altered to the north and almost immediately the Cork runs hard aground. Assuming the reef has been struck on its eastern edge, an attempt is made to turn to the east and sail off. This fails. During the rest of the night, Cork Clipper is battered by the seas and holed in several places.
Daylight reveals that the she is on the western side of the reef, not the eastern, and the attempts to get her off have only augmented her situation. There is little left of the lighthouse and racon on the reef—they have evidently not worked for many years. The crew, suffering only minor injuries, abandon ship and are picked up by other vessels in the racing fleet.
The paper charts for this region indicate that the data was mostly collected in 1867. There are various notes in the margins, such as:
Positions obtained from satellite navigation systems, such as GPS, are normally referred to the WGS84 Datum. The differences between the satellite-derived positions and the positions on this chart cannot be determined; mariners are warned that these differences MAY BE SIGNIFICANT TO NAVIGATION and are therefore advised to use alternative sources of positional information, particularly when closing the shore or navigating in the vicinity of dangers.
None of these notes showed up on the electronic charts, although when zooming in and out, the position of the reef moved. The largest-scale paper chart available at the time (not carried aboard the Cork Clipper) had the following warning:
“POSITIONS: Gosong Mampango Lighthouse (3˚ 35’S, 109˚ 10’E approx.) and associated reefs Karang Batuan, Karang Sembar and Gosong Kelumpang, were reported to lie 0.9’ further east in 1992. Gosong Aling lighthouse (3˚ 31’S, 110˚ 11’E approx.) and the associated reefs were reported to lie up to 2 miles further east-northeast.”
Particularly disturbing about this incident is that it had clearly been known for some time that the reef might be out of position, but this was in no way reflected on the electronic charts. Even worse, despite this high-profile loss, when last I checked (in 2014) the electronic charts had not been corrected or modified in any way. Readers may think, “Well, this is Indonesia and I will never cruise there, so this is not particularly relevant to me.” And indeed, the kind of gross charting errors found by Guardian and Cork in