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Old 01-02-2013, 21:36   #46
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

It was in about 1991, on passage from Fiji to New Zealand. I was on watch, and the moon had gone down early during the watch. Out of the murk, dead ahead of us, began to appear a darker shadow on the water. Eventually, I realized it was another sailboat, and that we were going about the same direction. I altered course (of course), but I felt furious; my job would have been so much easier had its lights been illuminated, and I been able to respond sooner to the situation.

Nobody answered the VHF, or my loud shouts. Felt like grabbing a few nuts and bolts and heaving them into their cockpit. Later discussions yielded ideas such a delivering a loaf of fresh bread to them instead, albeit from someone who hadn't had the experience.


But I have to say the one that astonished me the most was a ship running without lights! This was on a bright moonlit night, and I agree with the previous poster who wrote that the bright moonlight in some ways makes things harder to see. This whole incident was a mystery to me. I'll say at this point that I really believe that right of way is a luxury, and if a big guy doesn't want me to have it -- I'll get out of the way, it's sensible. After I turned, and we were safely past him, he turned his lights on and then sounded a klaxon repeatedly. Not understanding this method of communication at a time when we were safely past, and he had no dangers in front of him, I got on the VHF and hailed him, with possibly the silliest thing I've ever said, "To the merchant vessel sounding the klaxon, near position such and such, do you require assistance?" Exactly how I was going to help is an issue I had not resolved! ;-) In the event, there was no response. It was creepy. And what on earth it was all about, I do not know. ...Although, in the same area, approximately between Vanuatu and Australia, a friend of ours was struck at night by a ship that the watchkeeper hadn't seen, and that refused to identify, as well as his request to stand by while he went to see if they were taking on water, due to the collision. And was later informed by Australian Customs that he wasn't the only one that season. The implication being that there are ships out there whose skippers do not like yachts. This suspicion was later confirmed for me by a merchant mariner about 4 yrs. ago, now. So, all you good guys out there, thanks for keeping your lights on and for standing watch, too!


Ann Cate, s/v Insatiable II, on the hard in Hobart
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:58   #47
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Motoring up Johnstone strait on a calm, sunny day, last October, the wife and I were sitting in the cockpit. I observed something floating in the water quite some distance ahead. We were heading almost directly toward it at about 5 kts, so I kept my eye on it. At first I thought maybe it was a log, then maybe some kelp. Soon I could see we were going to be passing right by it and it was definitely not a log, so we both went forward for a closer look. I took the camera so I could zoom in and identify it. As I was trying to do that, the batteries died.
We came up along side it, with both of us staring at it wondering what it was. We were right in the middle of the strait in deep water but suddenly this thing looked like a rock. The wife turned and ran for the helm and right at that moment, this thing blew and dove. It's tail came out of the water about six feet from the boat, right beside where I was standing. It was a sleeping humpback whale.
We both stood there for a moment laughing and trembling.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:23   #48
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Sir Rondo... it could have been a killer whale (Blackfish) which inhabit that area... humpbacks are normally found on the west coast of the island but I could be wrong... (actually I am alot of the time!). I commercial fished the area for many years and never saw a humpy in that area, but as I said, could be wrong.
One of the more frightening experiences I ever had at sea was off the Oregon coast out about 50 miles. At around 0200 hours I noticed a low, thin elongated glow off to the west. Knowing there was nothing between me and Japan, I checked the radar and saw nothing at any distance up to 24 miles. Suddenly out of the eery glow, streaks of phosphorus came at my boat travelling at a great rate of speed. Your mind begins to race through the possiblities... torpedos? aliens? too much scotch? As these speeding missiles approached to within about 2-3 meters, they swerved at the last minute avoiding a collision! Dolphins!!!! Amazing what your mind can conjure up alone on watch, middle of the night and confusing the lights of a cruise ship through the low fog with an alien ship! Once again, the magic of the ocean just blew me away... Phil
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:33   #49
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

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Sir Rondo... it could have been a killer whale (Blackfish) which inhabit that area... humpbacks are normally found on the west coast of the island but I could be wrong... (actually I am alot of the time!). I commercial fished the area for many years and never saw a humpy in that area, but as I said, could be wrong.
One of the more frightening experiences I ever had at sea was off the Oregon coast out about 50 miles. At around 0200 hours I noticed a low, thin elongated glow off to the west. Knowing there was nothing between me and Japan, I checked the radar and saw nothing at any distance up to 24 miles. Suddenly out of the eery glow, streaks of phosphorus came at my boat travelling at a great rate of speed. Your mind begins to race through the possiblities... torpedos? aliens? too much scotch? As these speeding missiles approached to within about 2-3 meters, they swerved at the last minute avoiding a collision! Dolphins!!!! Amazing what your mind can conjure up alone on watch, middle of the night and confusing the lights of a cruise ship through the low fog with an alien ship! Once again, the magic of the ocean just blew me away... Phil
I have to admit .... The glowing dolphin torpedos are also quite creepy the first time it happens....
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:40   #50
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

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I have to admit .... The glowing dolphin torpedos are also quite creepy the first time it happens....
I have not seen them underway, but a school of Dall's porpoises came through Cutter Cove one night where we were anchored - just spectacular.

What I thought was tree branch in the the middle of Johnstone Strait turned out to be a deer swimming across.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:48   #51
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

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I have not seen them underway, but a school of Dall's porpoises came through Cutter Cove one night where we were anchored - just spectacular.

What I thought was tree branch in the the middle of Johnstone Strait turned out to be a deer swimming across.

Love the "swimming branch" story!

I would rather hit a deer doing 6kts than 65 mph any day!
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Old 02-02-2013, 16:58   #52
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pirate Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Sir Rondo: " The wife turned and ran for the helm and right at that moment, this thing blew and dove."


I might not be a solo sailor if one of my 3 wives had been that quick of a thinker and actor. Lucky you.
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Old 02-02-2013, 18:32   #53
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

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Sir Rondo... it could have been a killer whale (Blackfish) which inhabit that area... humpbacks are normally found on the west coast of the island but I could be wrong...
Ya you're not the first person to say that but unfortunately, you're not the first to be wrong too.
She (the wife) did manage to get it on video as it dove again just astern of us. At that point we were still probably four or five hours from entering Blackfish Sound, so you're right, there are probably very few Humpbacks seen down there. Later that day and the next morning there were too many humpbacks to count in Blackfish Sound. The wife got lots on video. The video is here if you'd like to check it out.

Blue Crab, I told the wife what you said. She blushed. She thanks you
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Old 02-02-2013, 19:05   #54
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

I stand corrected Sir Rondo... definitely looked like a 'humpy in a couple of shots. I lived off and on in Alert Bay and commercially fished salmon for about 12 years around there as well as towed logs and barges in the area so knew it well. Was a regular at the Nimkish Hotel pub at the top of the Govt dock! As I recall, there are a couple of gravel bars in the area that humpbacks used to frequent occasionally to scrape the barnacles off themselves. Quite a sight!
Around the Village Island area we used to get the Blackfish (killer whales) charging the bunt of our seine net trying to break in to get the salmon. Made for some really interesting sets in those days. None of us were smart enough to get a snap shot (video not invented yet)... this was back in the late 60's and through the 70's. Most every one I fished with back then is either dead by natural causes or misadventure.
I really appreciate you sharing the video... it was trip back in time for this old bugger! Cheers, Phil
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Old 24-02-2013, 17:46   #55
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Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Sub VS Sailboat


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14 July 2009: A 406 MHz EPIRB activated 1,100 NM northeast of Bermuda. The owner of a sailing vessel activated his EPIRB after he believed his vessel was attacked by a submarine. The Coast Guard Lantarea Rescue Coordination Center launched a fixed wing aircraft. The crew of the aircraft located the sailing vessel. The merchant vessel CMACGM Vancouver was diverted to pick up the owner and bring him back to the mainland. One SARSAT Rescue.
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