I received this e-mail from our friends at ActiveCaptain this morning and thought that it should be shared. Unforeseen hazards are a common event while traveling the Intracoastal Waterway.
A most interesting thing happened last week - something of a milestone for ActiveCaptain and perhaps a vision of what the future will be like. It seems that a storm knocked down a couple of trees clear across the Dismal Swamp at MM 21 and 18. The trunk was on one side of the canal with the branches touching the other side. It appears as if a few approaching boats decided that they could make it anyway (note to self: stop and turn around if you ever encounter a situation like this). Needless to say, multiple boats got tangled in the branches and had to be towed.
|Photo from Bob Starita and Sheila Peterson as they travel aboard their Lagoon 380 catamaran Neverland.|
While waiting to get through, one alert captain used the internet to create an ActiveCaptain hazard at the exact location where the tree had fallen. Hazards have special priority in our verification process and we saw it come in within a few minutes. To warn others quickly, we decided to call the South Mills Lock tender since most boats were northbound and would be going through that lock. Twelve rings and an automated message later proved there was no one actually at the phone. So we wrote to the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center. The director, Donna Stewart, hadn't heard about the problem. She got in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers and yadda, yadda, yadda, the trees were removed that evening.
So think of the loop that happened here. From witnessing the hazard to fixing it, all because of internet communication and a series of reliable verifications. That is a very powerful capability that our entire community can create by working together and sharing information.
ActiveCaptain helps in creating this new type of navigation. Whether you are guided through shoaling by the boats that proceeded you, or you select a marina because of previous reviews, or you're able to go to the grocery store because of services listed for a particular anchorage that someone else experienced, you are using social networking. We have a new term for it: Social Navigation. It's a complement to your other navigation capabilities. And as we're all finding, it's an important element in selecting a particular destination and figuring out how to get there safely.
Expect to see more about Social Navigation from ActiveCaptain. We have many more ideas and are developing some new capabilities that use these social aspects as we move forward together.
Karen and Jeffrey Siegel
Do you have a story to share with other boaters traveling the ICW? Send your story and pictures so we can spread the word. You can e-mail me your story to me at: email@example.com. Hope to hear from you soon!