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Old 16-02-2009, 10:43   #1
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Tugs and Barges

Once upon a time I was told that tugs pulling barges will trail a line off the last barge. I am told they do this in order to retrieve the barge in it breasks loose while towing. Now this all seems resonable, and I always leave a wide berth when encountering any vessels, but is this true. Also were would I find out what the lights above the tugs mean? While towing I usually see 3 white lights, one above each other. What do the lights mean, if they pull only one barge, is there only one light?
Thank for the reply...Exocet
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Old 16-02-2009, 11:29   #2
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Any good nav book should have the coloregs you can buy a plastic quick reference guide at west marine, It has most of the light combinations. Remember US inland and international may have differences.
yes some barges do have lines off of them. I have seen fishing lines off of them here.
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Old 16-02-2009, 12:51   #3
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Exocet...Don't know if barges trail a line off the end of the tow, but the light configuration is an easy one...3 masthead lights, one above another, indicates a vessel(s) in tow, with the total tow length being more than 200 meters. 2 masthead lights means the total length is less than 200 meters.
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Old 16-02-2009, 13:02   #4
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I am not so sure that barges still run pick up lines astern.

But that being said, discretion is still the better part of valour.

Re: lights. As indicated the number of lights shows the length of the tow, not the number of barges. At night get the binoculars out and look for the barges. If you are in logging country as we are, watch out for the log books, they can be tough to see.

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Old 16-02-2009, 14:34   #5
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Some Barges may have a smaller trailing hawser....in my experience we never let a pickup line hang in the water.....that is just plain lazy.....if theere is a towing bridle hanging, there may be a line attached to it to pick the steel bridle up.

In any case they don't trail out too far...and ya shouldn't be that close.
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Old 17-02-2009, 10:32   #6
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Yes, sometimes there is indeed a line trailing off the stern of a barge. They are made of a light synthetic that floats. They are indeed used as bridal in port or can be used as as an emergency bridal if the cable parts...or as what Chief just said. I have seen them trailing as far aft as a couple hundred feet. If you get this close behind a barge you are way too close anyways. Always keep your distance from commercial traffic. In general they are much less maneuverable than you, even if you are the stand on vessel. You know that you are not going to hit them but what about the guy in wheel house or the bridge?...there is no sense in making them nervous. A tug towing a barge cannot just stop in its tracks. A barge with enough way on and momentum that is being towed close astern, such as when they are towing on rivers, could ride right over the tugs transom.

Knowing what two or three white masthead lights means is a really good reason to learn the rules of the road. The same goes for knowing what a flashing yellow light might mean.
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Old 26-02-2009, 15:11   #7
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There are some strange lights in different parts of the World not mentioned in ColRegs (like a flashing yellow - which French Fishermen seem to have adopted - which means: keep clear of me you 'orrible Eeeenglish Yottie).

One I came across on The Rhine, was a flashing white light. This means I am intending to or in process of passing you on the wrong side. Wrong, being in context of opposite of normal. Eg. I am going to overtake you on your starboard side.

Trailing lines (aka Insurance wires in some parts) are usually quite short. Not common around UK in my experience. Can't speak for the rest of the World.

David, what does a flashing yellow mean in your part of the World?
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Old 26-02-2009, 18:38   #8
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These lights are described in Rule 24, right here: Rule 24: Towing and Pushing From there you can easily navigate through all the navigation rules.
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Old 26-02-2009, 19:02   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sec906 View Post
These lights are described in Rule 24, right here: Rule 24: Towing and Pushing From there you can easily navigate through all the navigation rules.
The lights described in Rule 24 above are national (US Inland rules) modifications which appear in the national versions of Colregs. Colregs vary from country to country. For example, the following is from Canadian Colregs:

Rule 45





Blue Flashing Light



(a) Any government vessel or any vessel that is owned or operated by a harbour, river, county or municipal police force may exhibit as an identification signal a blue flashing light when the vessel (i) is providing assistance in any waters to any vessel or other craft, aircraft or person that is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance, or

(ii) is engaged in law enforcement duties in Canadian waters.


(b) Any vessel operated by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary may exhibit a blue flashing light as an identification signal when the vessel participates, at the request of the Canadian Coast Guard, in search and rescue operations.

(c) A vessel referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) that exhibits a blue flashing light as an identification signal is not relieved from the obligation to comply with the Steering and Sailing Rules set out in Part B.

This rule is not found in a corresponding US rule 45.

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Old 27-02-2009, 10:54   #10
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Thanks sec & jackdale. My ignorance knows no bounds. I wasn't aware that each Country had it's own actual ColRegs (although I shouldn't be surprised by it!). It makes sense for Inland waters I suppose, but wouldn't it be wise for everyone to have them standardised and combined into IRPCS?
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Old 27-02-2009, 14:54   #11
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I once followed a chip barge out of the Fraser river. It was like a giant steam iron making the water astern dead flat.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:52   #12
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Will at TUGSTER may be able to help you out. He has a blog and works on a tug in New York Harbor. Plus it is a pretty cool site.

tugster: a waterblog
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