Marine software

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For those of us that enjoy boating the revolution in marine technology has made boating much easier and safer. The range is staggering and a blog would never start to cover it, so here a couple of favourites that are inexpensive or free.

First up is the App easily downloaded called Shralp Tide (search app store on your phone). This free app has the tide information for sites all over the world for a period of 5 days out, there are a number of tide apps and here is a list of the top apps currently on iPhone. The high and low times are provided with another graphical feature included when you turn the phone or tablet sideways. This feature allows you to answer questions such as what is the latest time tomorrow that I will have sufficient air draft under a bridge. Such accurate data is invaluable to ensure a trouble free boating experience, where a relaxed informed skipper can focus on the enjoyment factor rather than the stress factor.

My other favourite is Navionics. While this does have a cost of $21.99 to download the maps, the value when planning any voyage is immediately obvious. We see professional skippers using this software so it must be good. Even with the excellent dash mounted system, having a tablet based backup with the entire voyage tracking as well is a real comfort.

The next great app we constantly use in our line of work is Australian Boat Ramp Finder at a cost of just $2.49 it gives you great information on boat ramps Australia wide and also gives you the option to add your favourite local ramp that may not be listed yet for others to share around you.

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The clarity of navigation and beacons

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In this weeks blog I would like to talk about the basics of navigation and beacons (Lateral Markers) when out on the water. As most of you know there are two main coloured buoys and beacons Green (Starboard Side) and Red (Portside) these indicate the port and starboard sides of navigable waters or channels.

Some of you, like me, may have entered unfamiliar territory in you’re boating career and stopped in a confused state or worst case scenario run aground. In this blog I would like to help refresh the minds of our readers in this recap of navigation.

Below Examples of Red & Green beacons and buoys  (Beacons are fixed & Buoys float)

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 What beacon/buoy should be on what side?

When going upstream (away from the sea):

Keep red (port hand marks) on the left-hand side (to port).
Keep green (starboard hand marks) on the right-hand side (to starboard).
When going downstream (towards the sea):
Keep red (port hand marks) on the right hand side (to starboard).
Keep green (starboard hand marks) on the left-hand side (to port).

Remember there are also cardinal and special marks these are a sequence of yellow and black in colour and  indicate danger areas. These markers display a certain flash sequence for North South East & West as illustrated below.
Yellow
Information in full detail can be downloaded as a PDF from MSQ website here and remember to always check current tide times and weather radar before setting off. A list of boat ramps around Australia can also be found here
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New insights for floating marinas

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Last Friday in bright sunshine and on a windless day in Portland, Victoria, a new chapter was heralded in the area’s long maritime history. It was a day when dreams came true for many people that have envisioned a better way to interact with the sea which is so important to this community. After visiting the new Port of Portland Marina for the official opening by Premier Denis Napthine with lots of visitors, we had time to take a walk over the site with the Marina Manager Gary Bebbington and the Project Managers Graham and Belinda Ainley from Ainley Projects. Ainley has decades of experience in civil, structural and environmental engineering. It was a rewarding time for the team to present this latest addition to the assets of the local community. The best part was the request for a post mortem walk around with just the four of us.

Although we are all happy with the outcome, and the system has already been tested with 40 knot winds, it was the insights gained that have value for those of us doing such projects in the future. Gary is a professional skipper who also has many years marketing experience, so it was very valuable to hear what he pointed out. Firstly the entrance to the whole project had land works “by others” yet the marina contract started from the mooring block of the gangway. In future it would pay to have a design meeting with both parties to ensure an integrated entrance, that has some seating and services to welcome visitors to the marina. We will take this on board.

Another item was the pedestals that were drawn in the tender documents on the fingers and therefore were placed as such. Now they are in close proximity to bowsprits on some vessels and a cause for concern. My personal preference is to always place all services on the main walkways and preserve “dumb” fingers that can easily be moved later utilising the T slot. This is a valuable feature of the Superior marina systems and allows users to modify their layout inexpensively as their market changes. Service free fingers should be adopted by the design community as a priority.

Security gates were another challenge brought on by local conditions. Bass Strait often throws up major winds and Portland is a very windy place. Therefore the sail area on clear Perspex security doors means they will not auto close. The issue was solved with a mesh upper panel however this is another opportunity for a fail proof design. Security on marinas is a tricky concept as it really prevents only those people who are basically honest and do not want to get wet! A determined intruder will obviously come by water regardless. However it is prudent to select carefully locations where minimal barriers can prevent easy dry walking access. This should be done without making larger mesh fences that make the whole site look like a jail. Using the water as a passive barrier is the trick and there is more to be done in this area yet.

This marina also has the largest installation to date as yet of the Superior fender soft touch system. There is well over 100m along the visitor access area where charter boats pick up customers where this soft touch is in operation. This inner radial matrix core will compress to half of its diameter without transmitting load onto the marina. This means a skilled skipper may call in to temporary dock without fenders while doing a passenger pickup. The charter skipper giving a tour to Premier Napthine today actually commented that he had upgraded his vessel to a diesel on the basis of the new marina to be ready for more business. He also has a side entry door fitted to satisfy demand for wheelchair access. This was in response to one determined customer, a lady who in a wheelchair kept saying ” when are you taking me fishing?”. Now with a specially equipped charter boat, soft touch fender and a carefully constructed disability access gangway, this dream is a reality.

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Weather havoc devastating for Queensland

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How devastating it is to see the effects of the recent floods and erosion at Queensland beaches. I visited a couple of our local Gold Coast beaches over the weekend and it’s heartbreaking to see the havoc caused by the latest weather events.

Many of the old salts down at the Southport Surf Club in Main Beach had tears in their eyes as the platforms were washed away by the pounding surf and floated away. It’s the same story up and down the Coast as platforms, showers and public infrastructure is destroyed by the wild seas.  Palm Beach and Mermaid Beach have also been hard hit with Gold Coast City Council workers having to move surf towers using overhead cranes.  Foreshore stability is also a major concern however this issue cannot be addressed until the weather subsides. And it looks like continuing for at least another week.

The sand erosion and beach fronts are unrecognisable as trees are uprooted and the beach front is chewed up. Unfortunately damage costs will be in the millions but I sincerely hope the beachfront can return to its former beauty – only time will tell.

The recent flood damage is equally devastating. Peoples homes have been flooded and private property destroyed. Our team has been busy travelling the length of the Queensland Coast attempting to offer what help they can for home owners and marina operators that need assistance. We hope everyone keeps safe during this difficult time.

More information on ABC News and Goldcoast.com.au

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