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Old 23-09-2013, 13:31   #16
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Thank you Nigel, big commercial boats do not seem to be the problem by and large in the Salish sea (although there is one separation zone by port Townsend that is giving everyone white hair). How do you handle fishermen who refuse to turn on their ais till you are close in? I have had them appear on my screen less than a mile away in thick fog. Others shine their bright lights directly on us to get us out of the channel. In a fog all you see is white light-and then you are night blind for a few mins. What do you do with behavior like that?
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Old 23-09-2013, 13:41   #17
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
... How do you handle fishermen who refuse to turn on their ais till you are close in? I have had them appear on my screen less than a mile away in thick fog. ...
I suppose we treat them as any other boat without AIS: we don't know they're there until we see them via radar, or eyeball, or hear their foghorn (unlikely). If they do turn on their AIS before we've spotted them then that's just gravy.
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Old 23-09-2013, 13:42   #18
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Originally Posted by avb3 View Post
Considering what Nigel just reported regarding visibility and the diligence in which crew members take, on what basis would you say that watchmen on big ships could not see small craft?
Nigel is spot on in what he is stating - especially in close quarters or traffic situations. People often forget that it is not just you and the ship that are involved in a crossing but other, potentially unknown to you, participants. If you do not oney the rules you can cause chaos.

But in deep water, trans-oceanic, out of heavy traffic lanes my experience has been a bit different. Im not saying what should be done but this is my experience:

Just in our last south atlantic crossing we radioed 5 ships when passing (was all we saw on way from cape town to brazil). Only 3 responded and two couldnt see us at less than 5 miles - neither on radar nor visually. 1 couldnt do so even when given our gps coordinates.

Luckily there wasnt a need for either party to alter course but I still found it disturbing. Additionally not all vessels are so responsive or responsible at sea, remember this is not just Europe or US waters that people need to operate within. Again, I am only speaking of deep open water situations with one or so unknown vessels...

I have found many times when speaking with ships that i was NOT seen.
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Old 23-09-2013, 14:03   #19
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by avb3 View Post
Considering what Nigel just reported regarding visibility and the diligence in which crew members take, on what basis would you say that watchmen on big ships could not see small craft?
On the basis of my experience in keeping watch on big ships.

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Old 23-09-2013, 14:16   #20
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
I have found many times when speaking with ships that i was NOT seen.
I agree.

A VHF call to ship that is on collision course enquiring if they have me in sight often gets this sort of response.

"Standby" followed by the ship making a course correction.
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Old 23-09-2013, 14:19   #21
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Great! We have a surrogate Raku to debate the issue with.

Barnakiel, did you get from Nigel's post that he sees you far beyond where you become aware of him? It's because the visual watch is conducted from a far higher eye height, and he has electronic means you don't have. His decision point is far earlier than yours.

So your maneuver is likely to mess up his calculation of the situation -- did you catch what Nigel said about sailboats maneuvering versus holding their course and speed?

Collision avoidance is a science. It shouldn't be done spontaneously, on the basis of feel.
I understand what Nigel says. I am a trained seaman, not only a passionate sailor.

You may be sailing say a 100' steel schooner. I am sailing a 27' grp boat with 2' of freeboard. I do not carry an active radar reflector, nor an AIS transponder (yes, AIS transponder is on my list). I am invisible most of the time.

I have sailed round the world and have nearly been run down twice - in none of the two cases the cargo ships reacted to our VHF calls, neither did they alter the course to avoid running us down.

So now, on what basis would you state they could see us? Otherwise we have to agree they were trying to kill us. I do not think so.

I had my experiences, you had yours, and we will behave accordingly. This does not imply either experience was 'wrong'.

Collision avoidance may be a science. But I'd rather be dumb and alive than educated and run down.

Cheers,
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Old 23-09-2013, 14:22   #22
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Now that we have the blessing of the AIS, it is so much easier to raise the ship's watch. Too bad that many smaller ships simply do not carry AIS transponders yet. Or else is switching their AIS off such a common practice?

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Old 23-09-2013, 14:34   #23
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I understand what Nigel says. I am a trained seaman, not only a passionate sailor.

You may be sailing say a 100' steel schooner. I am sailing a 27' grp boat with 2' of freeboard. I do not carry an active radar reflector, nor an AIS transponder (yes, AIS transponder is on my list). I am invisible most of the time.

I have sailed round the world and have nearly been run down twice - in none of the two cases the cargo ships reacted to our VHF calls, neither did they alter the course to avoid running us down.

So now, on what basis would you state they could see us? Otherwise we have to agree they were trying to kill us. I do not think so.

I had my experiences, you had yours, and we will behave accordingly. This does not imply either experience was 'wrong'.

Collision avoidance may be a science. But I'd rather be dumb and alive than educated and run down.

Cheers,
b.
Fair enough!

And with great deference to your experience.

But the hazard, in my opinion, is taking action based on an unrealistic assessment of the situation. Probably unlikely for you, given your great experience. But many sailors simply can't comprehend the distance of the decision point, and the limitations of their own maneuverability, and make the wrong judgement.
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Old 23-09-2013, 14:37   #24
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Nigel:



Do tell us non-Brits into what French words you translated the concept "bollocks!" It might be useful to know that one in New Caledonia.

Ann
I think "les bollocks" was about the best I could manage
The mate made it perfectly clear to her when he grabbed hold of his own pair,
but thats ex trawler skippers from Peterhead for you.
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Old 23-09-2013, 15:38   #25
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

conneries!
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Old 23-09-2013, 18:02   #26
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

I think Nigel is 100% correct. On a well-run commercial ship.

That said, there are a lot of big, steel fishing vessels out there, and more than a few foreign-flagged freighters, who are not so diligent about maintaining a proper watch.

I've heard of dozens of collisions, often in broad daylight, where you just know nobody was on the bridge. At least not sober and awake.

I came on scene shortly after one, a collision between a large fiberglass sportfishing boat and a commercial trawler. I saw the damage first hand. I knew the conditions (good visibility) and the waters they collided in. There's just no way anybody was looking out the window, or watching radar, on either vessel.
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Old 23-09-2013, 19:24   #27
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
Nigel is spot on in what he is stating - especially in close quarters or traffic situations. People often forget that it is not just you and the ship that are involved in a crossing but other, potentially unknown to you, participants. If you do not oney the rules you can cause chaos.

But in deep water, trans-oceanic, out of heavy traffic lanes my experience has been a bit different. Im not saying what should be done but this is my experience:

Just in our last south atlantic crossing we radioed 5 ships when passing (was all we saw on way from cape town to brazil). Only 3 responded and two couldnt see us at less than 5 miles - neither on radar nor visually. 1 couldnt do so even when given our gps coordinates.

Luckily there wasnt a need for either party to alter course but I still found it disturbing. Additionally not all vessels are so responsive or responsible at sea, remember this is not just Europe or US waters that people need to operate within. Again, I am only speaking of deep open water situations with one or so unknown vessels...

I have found many times when speaking with ships that i was NOT seen.
+1 to all the above. Around heavy traffic areas, TSS, major ports and such Nigel's advise and comments are invaluable. I do not question at all that carefully following Colregs in these situations is critical.

However, down island, third world and offshore I have many times encountered ships that didn't answer a hail on the VHF, didn't seem to know or care I was there, and a few times had to change course to avoid a potential collision situation even though I was clearly the stand on vessel.

Have never been on a big ship's bridge and can only draw conclusions based on circumstantial evidence but in my experience, once you're out in the big, wide ocean it's more the wild west than Colregs and civilized rules.

If I ever cross the English Channel I will be following Dockhead rules. Out in the deep blue I tend to act more like barnakiel.
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Old 23-09-2013, 19:48   #28
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

We've had both, ships who respond [and it's often fun, nice chats] and those who don't, and we scurry to get out of the way.


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Old 23-09-2013, 20:07   #29
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Again, I am only speaking of deep open water situations with one or so unknown vessels...

I have found many times when speaking with ships that i was NOT seen.
Having a strong radar return as a benefit from a steel hull I've had exactly the opposite experience, and an ais reciever shows the ships change course to allow some more searoom often before they appear over the horizon. From that I'm not sure what would be top of the list offshore on a grp boat- ensuring a strong radar return or an ais transponder.

Probably both.
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Old 23-09-2013, 20:26   #30
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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If I ever cross the English Channel I will be following Dockhead rules. Out in the deep blue I tend to act more like barnakiel.
I'm not sure whether or not you (or Barnakiel) are advocating giving up any kind of systematic collision-avoidance procedures or not, but I wouldn't recommend that, for avoidance of doubt.

Proper collision avoidance is all the more necessary if you encounter a badly run ship which is not not keeping a watch or which is not following procedures itself. We do encounter these even in the Channel, sometimes -- every sailor needs to be ready to deal with such a situation.

The Rules do not require you to stand on if "it becomes clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action".

The main thing is not to do it by "feel", any more than you would land an airplane that way. I'm sure both of you guys are good at early detection of a collision course -- that is crucial. I'm sure your attitude is not "oh I'll just see the ship on the horizon and know instantly whether or not it's on a dangerous course." It demands work and skill and at the very least a HBC to figure that out at a safe distance, as I'm sure you know as well or better than I do.

Then, you've got to be able to detect whether the ship is taking "appropriate action" or not. Without AIS or really good MARPA, you probably won't be able to distinguish a planned 0.5 mile CPA from a collision course, with confidence, leading to a false assumption that the ship is not taking action -- this happened to me consistently before I got AIS. On the other hand, in the open ocean, as opposed to a crowded shipping lane, no one is going to intentionally pass you at 0.5 miles, so that will be somewhat easier.

Then, armed with all this knowledge, you've got to take obvious action which is well calculated to increase the CPA -- you've got to turn the right way! A spur of the moment inspiration will not always tell you the right way to turn, whether to add or take off way!

None of this is contrary to the Rules! IMHO, you should be following them, which is just one part of effective, systematic collision avoidance, even if you are dealing with wild third-world fishermen! I'm not even talking about the fact that you are obligated to.
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