Radio-Controlled Idiots?

I should have seen it coming. In fact, I did see it coming but I wasn’t
prescient enough to understand it. It was only about a decade ago when
electronics manufacturers figured out that the newfangled GPS satellite
navigation systems could be linked to autopilots, allowing skippers to
program highly accurate waypoints before a voyage and have the boat sail
automatically to those points.

We were sitting around a lunch table when one of the more fertile minds
posited that it would be possible to move a boat from harbor to harbor using
this method, but without anyone actually on board. The discussion had arisen
because I was about to take my boat from Southern California to San Francisco
Bay, and for those of you who don’t know that stretch of barren coastline, it
can be a nasty trip into lots of wind and sea.

His suggestion was that we could use some basic radio-control equipment from
a model airplane to start and stop the engine, and then turn the boat over to
the GPS/autopilot brain. We would take my boat out of the harbor, get off in
a dinghy, and using the radio control for the engine, send the boat on its
way. A couple of days later we would take a boat to the Golden Gate for the
rendezvous and stop my boat by radio control for reboarding. I’d have moved
the yacht with none of the usual agony. It was an intriguing thought, but
wiser heads said something like “Are you out of your friggin’ minds?” – by
Chris Caswell, Sailing Magazine, read on:

Maybe that’s the answer to the “Mary Celeste” mystery.

There’s nothing better than using Human-power to steer things. For example, GPS-guided cars scare me almost as much as flying cars. On a boat, there’s no way your GPS- thing can accomodate for changes in wind, current, traffic, weather.

What if the electronics fail? Can you absolutely guarantee that the electronics won’t fail? Are you prepared to search the entire Pacific ocean for your boat?

hmm, interesting idea…

wouldn’t trust it with a real expensive boat, but maybe convert my laser to RC, just fit a removable keel into the daggerboard slot. or maybe one of the yacht club’s optimists. :smiley:

or, gps powered rc transat/ transpac 1m or 1/10 supermaxis, multis, etc. and hook the larger models up with webcams.

A timely topic since the news is reporting a GPS/radio controlled sleigh in the vicinity of the North Pole at this very moment.


Happy Holidays!