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Old 29-10-2009, 12:49   #1
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Challenge: Ship, Out of the Fog, Dead Ahead ... Now What?

In a recent discussion I think I saw a statement that any vessel on a collision course, in a position to have to avoid a collision (regardless of who was initially the stand-on vessel), was required to turn to starboard.

Is that really correct ?

If it is correct and I suddenly see a boat on a collision course coming out of the fog slightly to port, then I'd have to turn to starboard even if turning to starboard only helps avoid the collision if the other skipper is also awake and also turns to his/her starboard ?

IOW, turning to port with no action on the part of the possibly sleeping skipper would avoid the collision, but turning to starboard with the possibly sleeping skipper doing nothing does not avoid the collision.

I can certainly understand how such a rule would come about but sleeping skippers really mess up the logic, if the rule is really as I think I read.

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Old 29-10-2009, 13:32   #2
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Rule 2(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.

In other words, if turning to port will get you out of harms way, turn to port!

This is assuming a big ship that probably can't see you anyway even if the watch stander is awake, and can't turn fast enough one way or the other to make much difference even if it did see you -- since you said it's coming out of the fog, I'm assuming fairly close quarters.
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Old 29-10-2009, 14:18   #3
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Use your judgement and show him your stern as quick as you can.
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Old 29-10-2009, 15:07   #4
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In cases where both vessels were in extremis (both required to maneuver to avoid collision) and one vessel turned to port and the other to starboard, the vessel turning port was assigned more blame for the collision. So there is no easy answer. If you turn starboard and they do nothing, you collide with both of you sharing blame. If you turn port and they turn starboard, you collide and it's mostly your fault. That said, it is a non-issue unless a collision occurs. Port turns have been successfully used in extremis.

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Old 29-10-2009, 15:28   #5
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I think the "turn to starboard" is for a situation where two aware skippers suddenly faced with a bow to bow collision are to react.... isnt it?
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Old 29-10-2009, 15:38   #6
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How do you know you are on a collusion course if you are in the fog? Plot a Relative motion line (RML) on your radar screen and then use the RML to determine a new course to take which gives you a set closest point of approach. Its called rapid radar plotting and knowing the fundamentals can really help. This is how the professionals did it before ARPA. Its still required to know rapid radar plotting for the higher licenses and two contact RRP for the oceans licenses.

Turning right is the general accepted practice.

Also, get on the VHF and try to reach the other vessel
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Old 29-10-2009, 16:50   #7
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How do you know you are on a collusion course if you are in the fog? Plot a Relative motion line (RML) on your radar screen and then use the RML to determine a new course to take which gives you a set closest point of approach. Its called rapid radar plotting and knowing the fundamentals can really help. This is how the professionals did it before ARPA. Its still required to know rapid radar plotting for the higher licenses and two contact RRP for the oceans licenses.

Turning right is the general accepted practice.

Also, get on the VHF and try to reach the other vessel
I got milk!

I got no radar.
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Old 29-10-2009, 18:47   #8
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Therapy--Absent a radar, get used to wearing a hocky-puck hand bearing compass around your neck on a lanyard. Even with radar, MARPA et al, I've been doing that for many years. Take a sight on your approaching target and remember the bearing. Wait 6 minutes and take another sight. If the bearing is the same, you have a 'Constant Bearing Dimishing Range" ("CBDR") situation and you will collide unless someone takes positive avoiding action. If the on-comming target is bigger than me, I'm perfectly willing to do so, but, if the course change isn't easily observed, the approaching target may not realize one's course change soon enough and, itself, make a change that worsen's rather than improves the situation (think Andrea Doria). For that reason, we're willing to tack, or gybe, as the case may be, 90 for our own safety sake, tho' it may be a pain.

FWIW...
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Old 29-10-2009, 19:56   #9
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Thanks for the useful replies !

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Old 29-10-2009, 21:22   #10
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I should like to mention that the best way to avoid a collision is not to get into a situation where a risk of collision exists. Especially with vessels much are bigger or faster than yourself. Judge crossing situations early - if you think there may be a risk of collision further down the line, make a clear and obvious change of course (min 20deg course change in day or change of light aspect at night) and go behind - no risk of collision.

If you do find yourself in a situation where a collision exists, I would suggest that it is not only the fault of the "sleeping skipper" of the other boat, but also your own fault for getting yourself into a situation where a risk of collision exists.

Be aware that both vessels are under an obligation to avoid the collision. There is no requirement in Colregs to avoid a collision by turning to starboard. There is a requirement to pass Port Port. Turning to starboard in collision situations is therefore an almost instinctive reaction of most professional seamen - because you will pass Port Port and it will get you out of the vast majority of incidents (and goes a long way to helping you case after the event).

The reaction is a bit like when you drive your car and faced with the same situation - you will almost always turn to the side of the road that you are used to driving on (i.e. turn to the left to avoid collision in the UK, to the right in the US).

(sorry if the above sounds a bit "preachy" - it wasn't meant to be)
But remember, there are other options: increasing spead, stopping, 180deg turn.
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Old 29-10-2009, 21:47   #11
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There is no requirement in Colregs to avoid a collision by turning to starboard.
Please see rule 14 for meeting situations:
(a) Unless otherwise agreed [Inld] When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of the other.

and 17 for crossing situations:
(c) A power-driven vessel which takes action in a crossing situation in accordance with subparagraph (a)(ii) of this Rule to avoid collision with another power-driven vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, not alter course to port for a vessel on her own port side.

Nearly all collisions result from a chain of events that could have been broken by either vessel prior to impact. Both skippers usually share blame when things go crunch.

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Old 29-10-2009, 22:18   #12
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Please see rule 14 for meeting situations:
(a) Unless otherwise agreed [Inld] When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of the other.

and 17 for crossing situations:
(c) A power-driven vessel which takes action in a crossing situation in accordance with subparagraph (a)(ii) of this Rule to avoid collision with another power-driven vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, not alter course to port for a vessel on her own port side.

Nearly all collisions result from a chain of events that could have been broken by either vessel prior to impact. Both skippers usually share blame when things go crunch.

Brett
Sorry - you are correct - I should have clarified:

There is no requirement for A Sailing Vessel to turn to starboard to avoid a collision
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Old 29-10-2009, 22:50   #13
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LtBrett,

Actually, I just re-read that paragraph of my post - it is VERY poor advice if not viewed from the perspective of a sailing vessel meeting a larger power vessel isn't it!!

I guess I just wrote about my own particular preferences when sailing my boat and forgot that this forum also includes power vessels and indeed that sail boats are at times power vessels themselves - my apologies again.

The general theme still stands, and I think you'll agree - avoiding the situation is far better than trying to get out of it
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Old 29-10-2009, 22:53   #14
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Therapy--Absent a radar, get used to wearing a hocky-puck hand bearing compass around your neck on a lanyard. Even with radar, MARPA et al, I've been doing that for many years. Take a sight on your approaching target and remember the bearing. Wait 6 minutes and take another sight. If the bearing is the same, you have a 'Constant Bearing Dimishing Range" ("CBDR") situation and you will collide unless someone takes positive avoiding action. If the on-comming target is bigger than me, I'm perfectly willing to do so, but, if the course change isn't easily observed, the approaching target may not realize one's course change soon enough and, itself, make a change that worsen's rather than improves the situation (think Andrea Doria). For that reason, we're willing to tack, or gybe, as the case may be, 90 for our own safety sake, tho' it may be a pain.

FWIW...
I keep my hand bearing compass nearby for that as well (amongst so many other great things they can do). Safe, cheap, and reliable.
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Old 30-10-2009, 16:44   #15
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Therapy--Absent a radar, get used to wearing a hocky-puck hand bearing compass around your neck on a lanyard.
FWIW...
I was sort of being a smarty pants, sorry.

Mine is an arms reach away from the helm.

That is my plan and I have tried it a couple of times even though we weren't on collision courses to get a feel of how fast the bearings separate.
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