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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

An­drew Cape plans the nav­i­ga­tional route around Cape Horn dur­ing the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race. Right: U.S.S. Guardian on the Tub­bataha reef in the Phillip­ines.

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