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New RYA training charts - Time zones - rant

firstmatewendy

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I am doing the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory course at a local college, having previously done Day Skipper (both bits) and am rapidly reaching screaming point! The new RYA training charts 3 and 4 have 3 time zones. The fictitious almanac pages give times as UT and -0100, the latter in fact being UT+1. The questions often refer to SPDST, which is Southern Peninsula Daylight Saving Time or time zone -0200 or UT+2. Any question involving a boat in the SPDST area but involving the use of a tidal diamond (based on a port in the UT time zone), requires a 2 hour adjustment ....... I won't go on, but think I have given some inkling of the confusion which all this engenders!

Many people are really struggling with this and much of the time in lessons each week at the college is spent
going over and over this time zone issue, to the detriment of the "core" issues, namely a proper understanding of tidal heights, adjustments for secondary ports etc.

My points are i) that the RYA has made the new charts overly complicated and ii) that colleges are allowing people to do higher level courses for which they do not have an adequate grounding (over 1/2 the people on my course had never used a tidal curve before!).

Is anyone else having similar problems?? /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif
 

MoodySabre

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I thought it was mad when I first heard about it - couldn't understand why they would do that. I suppose if you are doing the course in Greece then it might be more obvious. Perhaps the point is to make you time zone aware rather than doing an accurate calculation for the wrong time! All in all it smacks of euro-thingy to me.

When I did my YM theory they wouldn't let you on the course unless you had DS theory or could actual demonstrate that you had equivalent knowledge. If some are lacking fundamentals it slows the whole process down.

The other odd thing was that they taught how to do the secondary ports differences using an X - Y diagram (or whatever they call it) - I just used a calculator and got the answer in a fraction of the time. (If the tidal difference is 2.5 metres in 4 hours how much is it in 2.5 hours - not exactly hard work on a calculator but nobody else even had one, including the instructor!).

Mind you the instructor has had the same old wooden boat for 30 years and had never sailed on a boat with a GPS and was quite impressed when he came out on mine - and this was only 4 years ago. He stopped teaching when it went all electronic!
 

franky

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Contact James Stevens at Rya .He and Simon Jenks are the people who decided on the charts so let them know of your problems.
 

stevepick

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Lanarkshire
Yes it annoyed me ( I did the CS theory at the end of 06), and I lost some marks in the final exam because I screwed this up. I guess the reasoning is to promote accuracy and attention to detail - both good traits, but it does seem unrealistic - how many real charts have this - apologies, but based where I am I have never even seen a channel chart - how are tides referenced on channel charts that show the french and british coasts?
 

somerset

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I cannot comment on the new RYA Practice Charts but in the real world the Chart will tell you to which Standard Port the Tidal Diamonds relate.As a former RYA Shorebased Theory Instructor I can see what the RYA are trying to do in as much as it is now possible to charter yachts all over the world in many different time zones.As for under qualified candidates -it is very difficult to screen them prior to their arrival in class as they will have often registered and paid for the course at the college office.The Instructor will not have any knowledge of who he is getting on his course.Even though those who have 'experience' or Day Skipper Theory Certficates may struggle depending on the type of navigation they have done or the length of time since the last course.Usually natural selection kicks in and the slowest ones stop showing up after a while but it is a problem for Instructors and students alike.At the end of the Yachtmaster course (ie after the Navigation Exam to avoid confusion) I used to devote half an hour to the Reeve Foulkes Tidal Atlases which are much easier to use for Tidal Streams and Secondary Ports in the real world.Unfortunately they do not afford the degree of accuracy required by the RYA for exam purposes (i.e. accuracy of + or - 1 degree which is extremely difficult achieve on a small boat) whereas Tidal Diamonds do.The other problem is that they are only available for certain areas around the UK and the RYA is international in scope.
 

firstmatewendy

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Thank goodness - so it's not just me then!

I agree that being time-zone aware is vital, especially if you sail between England and France, but I don't think there are many people (with the possible exception of Ellen MacCarthur and whoever that French chap is who's just smashed her record!) who need to deal with 3 time zones on the same passage plan! And all the confusion detracts from what is really important.

I suspect the matter of assessing people's (in)competence to do the course comes down to the individual college. My husband did his YM theory at a different college, but within the same education authority, and had to sit a kind of pre-exam even though he had a recent DS certificate. His instructor was also far more pernickity than mine and insisted on doing vectors for interpolating between HW/LW heights etc. (which I actually like!), whereas my chap poo poos them and advocates guestimates. Having recently compared some homework questions done the accurate way, with his method, I'm forced to admit that he's probably right as the differences in answer were minimal, whereas the differences in the time taken to arrive at the answers was considerable!
 

pgurnett

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29 Oct 2007
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I totally agree!! I am presently doing an intensive course, have done 3 full days and do the remaining 2 days next W/E. The charts are very, very, very, very confusing. Yes, we are all struggling with this, but WAIT....... The RYA Exercise and course information pack states " There is, however, insufficient time available in the course to teach the subject fully" I cannot think of any other course that expects to teach a subject, does not have the forethought to prepare charts that can be of use and allow sufficient time to teach the subject matter!!! Try going on a first aid course for 3 hours and learn the course content in that time, because there is " insufficient TIME AVAILABLE!!!! i wonder if they have thought of ALLOWING sufficient time????? or is this all about MONEY??????????????????? /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
 

somerset

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FWIW I would never advocate someone going on an intensive course such as you describe.Unless you have the kind of retentive mind that I don't! Obviously if time constraints absolutely preclude attending a weekly college course then any thing is better than nothing.The problems you have mentioned re tidal time zones and secondary ports are classic and the longer course affords the time for them to 'click'.Once they do you will wonder what you worried about.
 

somerset

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Every Instructor has his own methods.This is the first I have heard of screening candidates prior to the course but I have not been involved in instruction for about 7 years so things may have changed.Opinions vary on calculating Secondary Port times and heights of tide but I used to be happy for candidates to use graphs,calculators or Mark I eyeball (my favourite instrument) as long as a reasonably accurate answer was arrived at.
 

firstmatewendy

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Well, I've sent an email to the RYA commenting that in my opinion the new time zones make the exams overly complicated and detract from the core issues. I doubt they'll take any notice but at least I feel better!
 
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'm not sure if this solves Mrs MJ2's question, but I can tell her that the problem of Time Zones in RYA exam papers has been a vexed one for a decade and more. Y'see, while there was no mention of Time Zones anywhere in the RYA training syllabus - therefore no requirement to teach it, and no allocated time - the CS/YM papers invariably required a candidate to do 'TZ' conversions between UTC( GMT ) and BST... "All times are in BST. All answers to be given in BST." ( The almanac uses UTC )

Of course, peeps who get past the Great Solent Barrier Reef at Hurst and across 'that wide and glittering sea' need to understand 'TZ's and do conversions! Not least when they arrive late for the sill at St Peter Port or St Servan, or toddle along to their charter boat in the Caribbean with their DS certificate, or sign up for the rather harder YM Ocean night class, where fluency with TZ conversion is truly needed, together with conventional plotting skills that few arrive with.

The RYA has not had anyone in RYA Towers, for many years, with a professional training in navigation to inform their decisions about navigation - but several ex-dinghy instructors ( although the 'Wookie-like' writer/journo Tim Bartlett tries his best ). I'm afraid this is just ONE of rather a lot of topics that the RYA's training department didn't quite see a need for, when they put together and reviewed their syllabus, and one that I personally raised over the years with James Stevens AND Simon Jinks - and 'that woman' who's gone off to RYA Australia. I can't quite say I was ignored, but it certainly did feel like a pat on the head and a 'run along, little boy'..... Now that their training papers involve other places on t'other side of the Southern hemisphere, they can't get away with quite so much 'dumbing down' any more.

I'm firmly of the view that TZ manipulation is essential to what we do on the seas; that the difficulties Mrs MJ2 and her classmates are having is an issue of instructor teaching skills, and remind everyone that a whole lot of RYA Instructors have little know-how beyond their own RYA Certificates.....

Professional navigators have been taught for many decades to convert everything in sight to UTC/GMT, work in UTC/GMT, keep the navigational chronometers in UTC/GMT, do the chartwork in UTC/GMT, do the tides/watch changes and astro in UTC/GMT..... Aircraft flight plans world-wide use UTC, so do Met Offices' reports and Forecasts, so does the world of telecommunications - and so does the GPS system! The only excuse for using Local Time used to be the need to catch a train - but that's not helpful here any more - and knowing when the pub opens.....

No, this confusion over the use of UTC is squarely a problem of the RYA's own making. I'm tempted to think they don't quite understand it, either.


/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

somerset

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I fully endorse your comments re the need to teach time zones.However I don't think that professional/military standards can be expected of 'civilians'.I think that running a yacht on Zulu time would cause infinite confusion and argument amongst the average skipper and crew.( Anyone who says different has not met my wife who gave me permission to include this! )For them being on time for the opening of the lock at St.Peter Port or that nice little restaurant in Lezardrieux is as important as train times used to be in the days of cotton sails and paid hands.
 

firstmatewendy

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[ QUOTE ]
I'm firmly of the view that TZ manipulation is essential to what we do on the seas; that the difficulties Mrs MJ2 and her classmates are having is an issue of instructor teaching skills, and remind everyone that a whole lot of RYA Instructors have little know-how beyond their own RYA Certificates.....


[/ QUOTE ]

Sorry but I think you've missed my point. I agree that the ability to manipulate time zones is essential - I personally live in Kent and our boat is in the Netherlands, so handling time zones is an ordinary part of life for us! However, the new RYA exam involves THREE time zones within the one chart (including the fictitious(?) SPDST) and it is this which is causing the problems, together with the inconsistent way in which the almanac pages are headed. People are getting so bogged down with these things that they are losing sight of the other things.
Our instructor is actually very knowledgable and an accomplished sailor but even he is tearing his hair out over it!
 

Gladys

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Our class has had the same problem... One of our instructors explained it thus:

Timezone UT-1 means that the tiomezone achieves the same time an hour ealrier than the UT zone, so when it is noon in UT, it was noon in UT-1 an hour earlier, 1100UT. So clock time at 1200 in UT is 1300 in UT-1... Clock time and Time Zones are different.

SPDST is time zone UT-1 plus DST = UT-2...
 

Phoenix of Hamble

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Not sure I agree....

We always run the boat on UTC (or GMT as I prefer to call it), and it doesn't seem to cause any problems..... ships clock is left on UTC, my watch remains UTC, SWMBO changes her watch to LT, and generally, we work it out.... its takes all of a few mins for us to get it straight in our head what the time difference is between UTC and LT (adjusted for DST as appropriate).... and avoids major stupid mistakes with the navigation....

I'm not sure how we'll do it when the time difference becomes a bit more significant though... suspect i'll change my watch to LT as well, and just leave the ships clock on UTC.... time will tell.../forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

somerset

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I congratulate you on your good fortune in having a spouse who comprehends TZ differences.Mine scored in the high 90's in her YM Theory Papers but when not actually skippering is challenged by the terms 'left' and 'right' (as I found out to my cost whilst driving through Malaga).I have tried being a hard core GMT skipper but when one of my crew (not my wife!!) got confused and turned up 2hours late from a stroll ashore which meant I missed the lock opening........I gave up.So now my watch and ships clock reads the same as the ones in the country I am in.Any mistakes are then mine alone and blame and vituperation can be awarded correctly!
 
S

Skyva_2

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There are only two time zones in the Training Almanac tide tables: UT and -0100. Time zones to the east of TZ UT (Greenwich) are negative as in Reeds.

Southern Peninsula Standard Time is TZ -0100, UT + 1. (Think of it as France).

SPDST (Southern Peninsula Daylight Saving Time) is Summer Time, which is UT + 2, and is not another Time Zone.

French Summer Time is UT + 2 in the same way.

I agree the RYA has made a horlicks of the presentation of this. Colour coding the times made it worse!

see http://www.ryatraining.org/NR/rdonlyres/...s0708papers.pdf

The RYA 'Janet & John' handbooks are no help in this, the instructor has to develop effective training materials.
 

Emjaytoo

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23 Jan 2005
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Us: Kent; Emjaytoo: Holland; Kate: Conyer Creek
[ QUOTE ]
SPDST (Southern Peninsula Daylight Saving Time) is Summer Time, which is UT + 2, and is not another Time Zone.

[/ QUOTE ]

You mean part of the chart is in summer and part is in winter? /forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

No wonder they're all confused!
 
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