We speak to many people on our travels round the marinas who don’t use RADAR even though they have it fitted to their boat. “I turned the RADAR on when I first bought the boat and was confused by what I saw so I turned it off and haven’t used it since.” That is quite a common statement and understandable, the RADAR screen can be quite confusing especially if you are tied up alongside the pontoon in a busy marina.
The modern RADAR picture is full of useful information if you know what you are looking at especially if the system is tuned correctly. When correctly tuned and used in the correct mode that confusing picture, that scares so many people, soon becomes a lot less intimidating and even comforting.
Using RADAR effectively requires some training and lots of practice. A number of accidents at sea have resulted from improper use of RADAR. Marine Accident Investigation Board reports have sighted failure to correctly use the RADAR along with misinterpretation of the information presented as being significant factors resulting in a RADAR assisted collision. It is not sufficient to just have the RADAR turned on with an occasional glance at the screen. We must be using the RADAR, continually monitoring and interpreting the returns (targets) along with visual sightings, especially at night or in reduced visibility. Using the RADAR in isolation during good visibility and not looking for confirmation of a targets position when able to would be deemed foolhardy of irresponsible. RADAR plotting, amongst leisure boaters, is now less common than it used to be, mainly due to the technological advances of modern Multifunction displays. Much of the hard work is done for us, calculating Closest Point of Approach (CPA), Relative bearing/heading are both available to us often at a single touch of a button making it easier to establish if a risk of collision exists and what action may be required…
With training and practice our RADAR becomes a very useful navigational tool as well as being a significant aid in collision avoidance. RADAR is a tool but we must use the tool in the correct way to get the most form it.
The RYA, 1 day, RADAR course is great starting point. Learn how RADAR works and how to use it. Learn the terminology used in RADAR and the regulations regarding the use of RADAR,
Alternatively, Mendez Marine offer a two day RADAR course; the first day being the RYA, certificated, RADAR course with the second day being a logical progression using our advanced RADAR and Navigation simulator. You will run simulated, real time, passages using RADAR. Using the knowledge gained on day one you will be both navigating the passage and responding to likely risk of collision situations in instructor lead, dynamic, scenarios. You will be making decisions and adjustments to your vessels course and speed based on your interpretation of the RADAR information presented. Seems easy but remember this is instructor lead and therefore the scenarios are updated throughout the passage.