Mailport: March 2014
Coincidentally, when an article ran in the New York Times about a fisherman rescued off Montauk, N.Y. (Jan. 2, 2014), I had been practicing navigating back to an MOB, and I came up with a simple idea that chartplotter manufacturers should build into their units.
This is the idea: When the MOB button is activated, rather than just dropping a waypoint and activating a bearing back to that waypoint, the computer could generate an expanding square starting at the MOB with each leg no more than 1 nautical mile from the adjacent leg—a route so to speak. This would be the recommended search pattern.
Under my idea, if the MOB is not at the waypoint when the vessel gets there, the autopilot could go into the search pattern, as if it was following the route, freeing the captain to do a visual search and guaranteeing a comprehensive search. This is a very simple thing to program into existing software that can do routing already. It could save a life. I know my idea is no substitute for a seasoned skipper knowing sea state, set, and drift, but it certainly could not hurt as a guide.
Sea Cliff, Nassau County, N.Y.