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Old 29-02-2008, 13:19   #61
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Everytime I give an account from what happens from the bridge of a ship I seem to catch hell for it...so I am going to say it anyways.

Ships are MUCH better at turning than stopping. It makes absolutely no sense then to try to avoid a collision by stopping..so what do you have left?..turning. For a ship, the other vessels true course and speed is irrelevant. I know I am oging to get scoffed at for saying that but what matters is the other vessels APPARENT speed and direction or its RML. APPARENT speed and direction is plotted now electronically using an ECDIS system or it can easily be plotted right on the radar screen with a grease pencil...unbelievable but true! Remember, ships radar is wired into the gyro which gives a north up display which means you can plot an RML of the closing vessel. It's the other vessels RML or relative motion line and subsequent CPA that matters. Saying your course and speed, unless the watch officer is on the ball, is really going to confuse things because then he has to resort to rapid radar plotting but if he has an ECDIS, then he probably knows better than you your actual course and speed and certainly knows your RML.

An attempt at VHF communication is better than nothing. So don't throw your hands up saying it is worthless. Even people who know very little English at sea know what "port to port" means when they hear it.

Generally at sea the helmsman is the lookout and the ship is on autopilot. The helmsman, when there is one, has no decision making ability. It does not matter what he thinks is right or wrong when he sees a red over green. His job is to report it.

I have to say that this whole attitude about yachts towards ships is so overdone. People on ships are fellow mariners as well and the last thing they want to do is hit you. Ships are also the ones who will pull you out of the drink if you get into trouble. Making an attempt at communicating with them if in doubt or just to say hello goes a long way towards keeping you informed..keeping them informed and developing better "karma" amongst all mariners...especially between the yachties and the professionals. Ships are not the enemy..so I think it is time to stop this mindset that they are.

Ultimately?..vessels collide through lack of good communication.
I have made hundreds of long ocean passages in my 14 year cruising and delivery experience. Any time that I see a ship at sea, I try to make VHF contact. Partly out of boredom, partly for safety. It is the VERY RARE occassion that I get a response from a commercial vessel. 100% success from military vessels. You'd think it would be the other way around.

I'm not sure why you thought I was taking an advisarial position against ships. That wasn't my intent. I was merely stating the obvious. A small vessel with little twinkling lights is not going to cause a "fear factor" for the ships crew. I would never even think that a ship may run down a small boat on purpose or even be careless with their navigation around them. All I'm say is that if they were concerned that these lights were coming from something that could sink them, their concern would be hightened.

The fact remains that dedection of a small craft at sea from the bridge of a big ship is unlikely. Any time that I have communicated with ships at sea, I always have to tell them of my presence. I have never had a ship respond that they saw me before I called (on the rare occassion that they respond at all).
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Old 29-02-2008, 13:24   #62
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DavidM- thanks for your professional perspective and thoughts, valuable information for those who are listening.

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Old 29-02-2008, 13:27   #63
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Absolutely jrd! Y/W

I will repeat this again. The upper lights give the vessels status. The lower lights give its aspect. What makes more sense? It makes more sense to know, as a vessel is coming over the horizon, that it is there first and then to figure out its aspect. Knowing its aspect allows you to estimate which way it is going and to estimate its CPA if you don't already have a relative motion line on it.

But to do all that, you have to know of its existence first...and thats the advantage of the Red over Green. Red over Green gives you an earlier indicator than sidelights. The sooner you are spotted...the better.
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Old 29-02-2008, 13:34   #64
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Originally Posted by Kanani View Post
I have made hundreds of long ocean passages in my 14 year cruising and delivery experience. Any time that I see a ship at sea, I try to make VHF contact. Partly out of boredom, partly for safety. It is the VERY RARE occassion that I get a response from a commercial vessel. 100% success from military vessels. You'd think it would be the other way around.

I'm not sure why you thought I was taking an advisarial position against ships. That wasn't my intent. I was merely stating the obvious. A small vessel with little twinkling lights is not going to cause a "fear factor" for the ships crew. I would never even think that a ship may run down a small boat on purpose or even be careless with their navigation around them. All I'm say is that if they were concerned that these lights were coming from something that could sink them, their concern would be hightened.

The fact remains that dedection of a small craft at sea from the bridge of a big ship is unlikely. Any time that I have communicated with ships at sea, I always have to tell them of my presence. I have never had a ship respond that they saw me before I called (on the rare occassion that they respond at all).
Kanai..sorry, I should have been more clear.
I'm not picking on you or anyone in particular. I just sense this overall infrequent hostility towards ships in this forum as a whole that makes them appear to be these rogue shark like creatures that cruise around the oceans trying to hit yachts. Do you ever get that sense?

I absolutely understand the ship vs boat collision...the boat will always be the loser and of the necessity of doing whatever is necessary to protect ones life. Boats must be more defensive if they want to live. Sometimes I think though that what is stated is a little overly dramatic.

Of course you will see them first. A boat is a speck on a big ocean a few miles out and is probably being filtered out by the radar gain just high enough to filter out the swells until you become a larger speck...aka, a contact. Call them and they will probably turn their gain up a little and say to themselves, "Ahh...there he is". It takes a few repeat contacts with an ECDIS system for it to automatically "tag" you.

Do you ever get that sense? Call me a little superstitious or whatever but the karma or aloha that goes on between the two is pretty negative at times. I guess I never knew of this being mostly around ships and large commercial boats and it sort of surprises me...some of it is legitimate but much is unjustified.

It would be nice somehow if the yachties and the professionals could switch for one day...and see the others perspective.
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Old 29-02-2008, 13:43   #65
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Carefully check out the nav lights on ships sometime....almost always they have duplicate lights...one right above the other. We also have a panel that sound an alarm if a light extinguishes.
Actually we have primary and secondary nav lights as well with multiple bulbs in each but these guys are big and our little lights may not mean much. We sure as **** watch out for them though.

They rarely answer us on the radio.





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Old 29-02-2008, 17:51   #66
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Cal40john:

The Perko unit you saw IS how they're sold. Most vessels carrying Red over Green also choose, or must have, Red over Red. Because of the spacing requirements, you generally have a Green/Red cluster set below a single Red.

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Old 29-02-2008, 21:39   #67
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This is an interesting topic and useful to get a good understanding of differing perspectives.

I have been fortunate to be on both sides of Ship/Yacht situations and as David correctly points out and we both gave examples, early awareness and communication between vessels is preferred to a close quarter situation where everyone is guessing. By any means… so in principle, I am all for these all round lights.

This all round red over green is something I have not seen installed and as Blahman’s Perko photos seems to confirm it is difficult to get that meter separation. I don’t think about clear calm nights, instead I try to imagine the worst case scenario of stormy, heavy rain conditions, where a yacht’s mast (ok monohull) is scribing large arcs, pitching and yawing, running downwind and being overtaken by a ship with severely restricted visibility.

Finally at close quarters, would you see a blurry red and green with a white underneath? Would that add confusion if the yacht panicked got handcuffed and altered only 50 degrees right into your path (so you never saw the sidelights)?

Something like this happened to me, steaming down the West Coast of Baja at about 18 knots on a nasty, rainy night. Around 3am the Watch keeper picked up on radar a target fine on the Starboard bow doing 6 knots also heading south. Wind was fine on our Port quarter. Confirmed a stern light a bit later trending away from us so as we were overtaking he altered to port for a CPA of 1nm. I was awakened by the look-out who said there was a problem on the Bridge. I arrived to see a target ahead of us to starboard, on a quickly converging course. Out on the bridge wings all I could see through the rain was a white light so ordered port helm so that we did a complete slow loop away from the sailboat and then continued on course passing his stern. If I had come onto the stressed bridge and seen also red and green dancing in front of my sleepy eyes would I have reached a different conclusion? That is what scares me about the red / green configuration.

A bit later a rather apologetic call from the sailboat explaining that his wife had panicked and decided to gibe onto a starboard tack and forgot the boom preventer. All hell broke loose and they then got over-pressed with a dramatic change to Port and their lines in a tangle.

My Watch keeper was new to the ship and made a serious mistake. We had the latest “S” and “X” band ARPA radars inter-switched to Commercial displays so that by having one at 12nm and the other for close range he could manually tune out rain and sea to track weaker targets. After he had made his course change he was playing with the “Trial” feature and did not appreciate that the yacht was in trouble until they were too close. (He learned an important lesson to practice only during daylight and good visibility with Radar features). Also, he should have tried to call the target early to inform them that we have seen them and will overtake at 1nm from them.

David I think a lot of cruising sailboats are rightly intimidated by deep-sea ships who often (out of boredom) alter towards a sailing yacht in the hopes of seeing something “interesting” happening on deck. Some come really close and you begin to wonder! In 3rd world areas, yachtsmen tend to maintain radio silence because of security concerns and don’t want to advertise their position. Times have changed and hearing an American accent on a yacht cruising Indonesia chatting to a deep sea about their destination is not a smart practise.

In Europe or North America I enjoy talking with fellow mariners when sailing but in the Philippines at night, would normally flash a strong light to advertise my existence.
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Old 01-03-2008, 03:45   #68
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Pelagic tells an interesting and illuminating tale of near misadventure.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:17   #69
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Cal40john:

The Perko unit you saw IS how they're sold. Most vessels carrying Red over Green also choose, or must have, Red over Red. Because of the spacing requirements, you generally have a Green/Red cluster set below a single Red.

SO


























Fair leads,
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Between the meter separation rule and the above explanations, it all makes sense now why what fixtures are available. For some time I'd thought that the red over green would be a good idea, but since the boat already had a tricolor I never did anything about it. Even though I still think that it is a good idea, I'm less likely to do the extra work to fit it to my boat now that I know the requirements.

John
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:58   #70
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David I think a lot of cruising sailboats are rightly intimidated by deep-sea ships who often (out of boredom) alter towards a sailing yacht in the hopes of seeing something “interesting” happening on deck. Some come really close and you begin to wonder! In 3rd world areas, yachtsmen tend to maintain radio silence because of security concerns and don’t want to advertise their position. Times have changed and hearing an American accent on a yacht cruising Indonesia chatting to a deep sea about their destination is not a smart practise.

In Europe or North America I enjoy talking with fellow mariners when sailing but in the Philippines at night, would normally flash a strong light to advertise my existence.
Hi Pelagic.
I never considered the security implications of radio silence. From your story it sounds as if you worked as Master. Did you go to an academy or work your way up through the hawse pipe? I was only a Third Mate for a couple years. Then worked as a mate on some offshore supply boats out of Port Hueneme. Then I found a job in the SF Bay where I could go home at night which I am doing now and really enjoy. My wife would never let me go to sea now and I don't want to be away from her or home as well. So now my plans are to retire and bring her to sea with me. Are you retired now?

David
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Old 01-03-2008, 13:36   #71
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My conclusion after reading this thread is to not waste your money and electric power on archac lights and put in a class B AIS transponder. The ships pay attention to the AIS and you will show up at over 10 miles even in fog, heavy rain, and high waves. The AIS draws less power than one of the four red/green lights you will need. It is also much more likely that a ship will respond to the VHF if you call them by name which the AIS gives you.
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Old 01-03-2008, 15:36   #72
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Don,

Assume you mean, "archaic lights".

And, if so, do you mean to suggest that running lights are archaic? Does the advent of new electronic gadgetry trump the old-fashioned running lights?

IMHO, your "conclusion" makes no sense, because:

1. whatever lights you can legally carry that make you more visible to other vessels has got to be a "good" thing; and

2. a Class B AIS would do NOTHING at all for you in terms of the many, many vessels out there which do not have AIS capability, either receive only or xmit/receive. These include: fishing boats, most other sailboats, power yachts, small commercial vessels, etc., etc.

I'm not suggesting that every sailing vessel should carry red-over-green lights. But I am suggesting that the venerable tricolor at the truck of the mast is a good thing for many vessels at sea, as are BRIGHT running lights, LED or other. I really don't care how much current they draw. Turn the damned TV off if you need to :-)

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Old 01-03-2008, 17:21   #73
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Hi David,

You might be sorry you asked about my sailing history (lol) but maybe there is some value to someone in reading this.

I have been incredibly lucky to enjoy a parallel career in both yachting and commercial fields, which gave me both the pleasure and training to become a competent sailor. When I look back on it now I don’t think I could have planned it any better.

After twiddling my thumbs at University, my early days involved Sailboat deliveries and cruising Instructor together with running harbour tugs, crew and pilot boats so as to build up commercial sea time. I got my initial watch keeping license and command endorsements after 2 years at marine college (PMTI in Vancouver) then went offshore again with the tugs as well as doing larger commercial deliveries, then back to PMTI for ON2 and ON1 mandatory training in additional MED’s and simulator. (By that time I was mostly just challenging the exams and sweating through the orals, so I could get back to work.)

I initially received a lot of stick from the CCG examiners because at an early age, I had already been in command of a high profile 172 ft commercial yacht that went through steamship inspection Those guys thought that anything to do with working on yachts involved “gin and tonics” on the bridge and never recognised any of my yacht sea time, believing that I was not qualified. But that just gave me the incentive to prove them wrong by studying harder.

I did try Deep Seas and smaller Cruise ships for a while being again given command quite early but then a fantastic opportunity in the Super yacht industry saw my learning curve go vertical and I never looked back. After doing that for 16 years for the same employer, I am now retired from operations and work occasionally as a private consultant directly with other clients on their new builds. It’s fun to study leading edge solutions without budget constraints but my greatest pleasure these days is to enjoy cruising locally on StarGazer, becoming a simple sailor again.
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Old 01-03-2008, 18:42   #74
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Lotta interesting people here.
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Old 01-03-2008, 22:30   #75
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My conclusion after reading this thread is to not waste your money and electric power on archac lights and put in a class B AIS transponder. The ships pay attention to the AIS and you will show up at over 10 miles even in fog, heavy rain, and high waves. The AIS draws less power than one of the four red/green lights you will need. It is also much more likely that a ship will respond to the VHF if you call them by name which the AIS gives you.
Not everyone out there has AIS yet. Having both is certainly better than having one or the other. One does not replace the other, they complement each other.
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