Originally Posted by iSaint
Many of the sailing stories / novels I've read say that cargo ships rarely keep watch for small vessels. Small vessels do not show up well on their radar, making it even more dangerous.
That really depends on the the ship. I would not label all ships or most ships as not having a proper watch as defined by the COLREGS and the IMO.
If small boats had brighter nav lights at night and an AIS
transceiver they would be better off than the typical one mile side lights that most of them seem to carry. With LED nav lights now available there is no longer a good power excuse to have dim nav lights. Get the two mile side lights for boats over 20 meters...its legal
to be over
the minimum requirement. Its my own personal opinion that one mile sides are not adequate at all. One mile visibility means in perfect visibility, with no lights on in the bridge, no distractions and for someone who is 100% focused on finding that light...that's simply not realistic.
In all likelihood, you will see a ship before it sees you. Shine a light on your sail and hold it there until the ship is past and clear. Try to make radio
contact on 13 or 16 as well to try to confirm as to whether or not they see you. As a last resort, if you still don't think you have their attention then turn on your spreader lights, your anchor
light, your steaming light and your strobe for a bit...light em up baby!
Yes its technically illegal to do that, but that beats getting run over. I used to run OSV's out of Port Hueneme and on a choppy night I always saw those bright white lights long before I saw some dim sidelight. I was glad sailboats did that rather than having to maneuver inside of a mile after I saw a sidelight. I think the IMO should change the minimum to two miles for boats over 7 meters....this could be easily done now that we have power efficient LED side lights available.
Whether or not a small boat shows up on a properly tuned radar depends largely upon the sea state. Whitecaps cause a radar return and small boats can become hidden in those returns..even with the seaclutter turned up a bit. Hopefully you never get within the radars seaclutter range which can be from one quarter to a half mile...typically.