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Old 23-09-2013, 20:34   #31
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Originally Posted by conachair View Post
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.
A radar reflector is one of the very few things which is actually required on a non-coded vessel under 20 meters under the extremely laissez-faire UK regulations. I really can't think of any good excuse not to have one -- they are not even expensive, and you don't even have to permanently install them, if it is inconvenient to do so -- you can haul them up on a spare halyard.

AIS, on the other hand, is a total revolution in collision avoidance. Read Evans Starzinger's excellent article about it. Now that I've experienced it, I would never leave home without it.
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Old 23-09-2013, 21:23   #32
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Do sailboats have more issues with machine-powered vessels because sailboats are almost always the stand-on vessel?

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Old 23-09-2013, 21:29   #33
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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A radar reflector is one of the very few things which is actually required on a non-coded vessel under 20 meters under the extremely laissez-faire UK regulations.
I'm disappointed how often sailboats and many motorboats have such tiny returns on radar. I recommend multiple radar reflectors or a metal boat.
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Old 23-09-2013, 21:43   #34
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Nigel1, what your shipmates reported was totally textbook. Ask them if they have any special tricks for high traffic ports in Japan. I had a captain that instructed the bridge watch to crank up the Rock music coming into Osaka. It appears in the polite world of Japanese maritime, when a stand on vessel inquires of the give way vessel their intentions and hears in the background loud rock, sometimes they will make a course change. For me it was un-nerving, had never been in that much traffic or port before and would have wanted quiet on the bridge.
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Old 23-09-2013, 23:19   #35
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

A radar reflector is one of the very few things which is actually required on a non-coded vessel under 20 meters under the extremely laissez-faire UK regulations. I really can't think of any good excuse not to have one -- they are not even expensive, and you don't even have to permanently install them, if it is inconvenient to do so -- you can haul them up on a spare halyard.

AIS, on the other hand, is a total revolution in collision avoidance. Read Evans Starzinger's excellent article about it. Now that I've experienced it, I would never leave home without it.
Agree completely with the ais, wonderful piece of technology. My point about reflectors was more about spending some time experimenting to find something which actually works on a grp boat before heading offshore. I think a good excuse not to have one might be that they are mostly useless , luckily I already have a good one which doubles as a hull

Having experienced how ships respond to a good echo offshore I would put ensuring a strong return as very high up the list for a bluewater boat.
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Old 23-09-2013, 23:30   #36
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Originally Posted by conachair View Post

Agree completely with the ais, wonderful piece of technology. My point about reflectors was more about spending some time experimenting to find something which actually works on a grp boat before heading offshore. I think a good excuse not to have one might be that they are mostly useless , luckily I already have a good one which doubles as a hull

Having experienced how ships respond to a good echo offshore I would put ensuring a strong return as very high up the list for a bluewater boat.
Yes, I think you're right. I read a report suggesting that few radar reflectors work much. Mine apparently does, but I think AIS data makes a bigger impression.

Of course that doesn't mean that if you broadcast AIS, you don't need a radar reflector.
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Old 23-09-2013, 23:45   #37
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Just wanted to throw a NorthWest wild card in here. Especially in fog. I am all so a an air pilot.

The last time on floats we left Campbell River heading to the Broughtons about a 2-3 hr flight in a Cessna 140 on Floats.

We spent nearly 5 hrs on that trip in fog. We were filed as VFR, and neither of us were IFR, we have both spent 100 hrs plus in the right seat in IFR, just never spent the time to qualify. Wouldn't have mattered any ways, as we need to to follow the channels.

So to make a long days story, short. We spent almost as much time flying as we did as a boat doing 40-50 MPH. Of course we had no radar, nor AIS, we had GPS.

As we negotiated the the channels North we would fly at a ceiling level at about 200-500 feet, and then boat for a mile or two as we socked in.

I can tell all whom pilot the NW waters watch out for flying boats that appear to do 115 MPH, then in a second drop speed to 50 and so forth.

Lloyd
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Old 24-09-2013, 04:19   #38
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

I can understand concerns of ships not sighting a sail boat at sea, and I can put forward a number of reason's for this (please note, this is not an excuse for not keeping a proper lookout)

1) Diminished crew size: First cargo boat I sailed on had a crew of close to 50. During the day, on the bridge would be the OOW, a cadet, plus a watchman.
At night it was as above plus another watchman.
Crew levels today on a similar size ship might be in the region of 10 to 12. There will only be the OOW on the bridge by day, hopefully at night, another watchman

2) Watchkeeping Standards: This has dropped over the last 20 to 30 years. Ship owners now have access to cheap crews, flags of convenience have cropped up everywhere. An OOW employed by an exploitive ship owner is not going to be the most conscientious watchkeeper

3) Introduction of ARPA and AIS. An over reliance on electronics to keep a lookout. So, if you are on a plastic boat with a poor radar return, and no AIS, you might not be seen, or have the OOW alerted to your presence

4) Overload of paperwork and other administrative tasks on OOW. Combine this with smaller crew sizes, OOW will, if allowed to, undertake these tasks when they should be keeping a proper watch.

Over the course of 25 years as skipper, I have had need to admonish a few OOW for poor watch keeping, and dismissed two.
I can only run one ship at a time, so I apologise for the poor standards on other ships.
I can only hope that eventually IMO will see some sense and start to listen to the concerns of responsible Masters and ship operators.

I sincerely hop and believe that in confined waters, the OOW is doing nothing else other than keeping a proper watch. Deep sea, I can well imagine that they will, if allowed to, let standards slide.

For me, if I was involved in a collision, I would most likely lose my Certificate of Competence, and therefore my livelihood, so other than the desire to run a save ship, its a good incentive to make sure that the bridge team does a good job.

Get an AIS receiver at the very least, best advise I can offer.
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Old 24-09-2013, 04:57   #39
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

First Nigel,

Thank you for an informative answer. I've spoken to some of the very fast catamaran ferries here in DK and they say, "we'll see you a lot earlier than you'll ever see us. Let us do the evasive action" They travel at 40+ knots.

Dockhead - admirable suggestion about how we should all learn and obey the Colregs - but many boaters actually are exposed to them, read them and then decide "I'll just turn and run away".

The reason for this, of course, is that they have never sailed in waters with a lot of shipping. And not at night or in the fog.

Sort of the same thinking that car drivers who routinely speed or go through red lights have.

Or maybe they simply don't give sh*t, not realizing the potential consequences of their actions.
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Old 24-09-2013, 05:15   #40
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pirate Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

The simple fact of life is for all the rules and equipment in the world nothing and no one is 100% safe...
So in the vicinity of other vessels... regardless of size remember one simple fact...
'Lerts' Rock... so...
Be A LERT....
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Old 24-09-2013, 07:55   #41
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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First Nigel,

Thank you for an informative answer. I've spoken to some of the very fast catamaran ferries here in DK and they say, "we'll see you a lot earlier than you'll ever see us. Let us do the evasive action" They travel at 40+ knots.

Dockhead - admirable suggestion about how we should all learn and obey the Colregs - but many boaters actually are exposed to them, read them and then decide "I'll just turn and run away".

The reason for this, of course, is that they have never sailed in waters with a lot of shipping. And not at night or in the fog.

Sort of the same thinking that car drivers who routinely speed or go through red lights have.

Or maybe they simply don't give sh*t, not realizing the potential consequences of their actions.
Indeed. But I think the point is broader than just "learning and obeying the Colregs".

The point is, really, taking collision avoidance seriously, and doing it in a systematic way. The Colregs are really just one part of that system (albeit an extremely important part).

The problem we discovered in the other thread is that some sailors, a very few, I hope, are actually clueless and wilfully choose to remain ignorant of what collision avoidance involves. They are not aware that they cannot determine a collision course at the horizon with eyeballs alone, and they are not aware of the limits of maneuverability of their own vessels. They think, apparently, that because their vessels have a high rate of turn, they can just dart out of the way if a big ship "gets too close". They are not aware of the distances at which decisions have to be made in order to safely "get out of the way", and they are not aware of how commercial ships maneuver. They are not aware of the complexity of working out an effective maneuver for defusing a close-quarters situation. It's quite scary, really.

I don't think it's because they "simply don't give sh*t, not realizing the potential consequences of their actions"; I think it is because they simply don't understand how it works, and that they would be sincerely surprised if once a commercial vessel "snuck up on them", and they were unable to "dart out of the way", and got run down.

Sailing in dense shipping areas is, of course, a forced education in "how it works. But that doesn't mean that sailors who don't sail in such areas (or at night, or in fog) can count on never encountering shipping.
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Old 24-09-2013, 08:02   #42
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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Get an AIS receiver at the very least, best advise I can offer.
In my opinion, an AIS transponder is absolutely essential kit for anyone who has any significant chance of encountering shipping. I had no idea about this, before I tried it myself this year. I think it is not an overstatement to say that it completely revolutionizes collision avoidance.

I have not yet done a crossing in bad visibility with my new AIS set (night doesn't count -- a clear night is not bad visibility; on the contrary), but I expect that the revolution is even more notable then.

AIS transponders have dropped greatly in price and are surely now affordable to almost anyone.
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Old 24-09-2013, 08:12   #43
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That is how I handle commercial traffic when on delivery... I assume they can't see me, so I steer well clear of them....
Again despite multiple threads , this methodology simply isn't good enough in dense traffic areas.

But
"
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."

This is also my experience

So to summarise what I used to tell my students

Apply the COLREGS but do not stand on into danger
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Old 24-09-2013, 08:44   #44
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

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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.
It did occur to me as I was posting the previous that I would be complying with the Colregs by avoiding a collision by taking action if the giveway vessel did not give way. So maybe I am following Colregs more strictly than I think.

I have to say, these discussions are convincing me that I might need to add AIS. Maybe not absolutely necessary for most places I will be cruising but for some areas it could be essential. $#!@#$!!! Another boat buck down the drain.

That being said, back in the good old days, I thought I was doing OK avoiding other vessels by taking frequent bearings on them and acting appropriately, not just going by feel or intuition. Maybe the big boys had already seen me miles and miles away and had acted well before I knew they were there, but regardless, by the time I saw them and started tracking, 99% of the time it became quickly obvious that the other vessel was passing ahead, astern or well abeam of me. The balance of the time a few more bearings as we closed would usually show safe passing with rare exceptions.

All this brings me to something that always bothers me about these collision discussions. Again, my opinion, 99.99% of the collisions occur because someone is, metaphorically speaking, asleep at the wheel. Just to see if I am crazy I did the math and would like to hear if others agree with my assessment of the situation.

The max beam I'm aware of on a big ship is around 200'. A sailboat at 6 kts covers about 10'/second. So, ignoring any margin of error, it would take a typical sailboat 20 seconds to cross completely across the bow of a giant tanker. That tanker at +/- 20 kts might be covering 30-40'/second so in that 20 seconds it takes a sailboat to go 200' the ship would travel roughly 800', round up for that margin of error and call it 1000'.

So for a collision to happen, a sailboat would have to try to cross all the way across the bow of a giant ship going at max speed when the sailboat was less than 1000' in front of that ship.

So again, my thoughts, a collision between a sailboat and a ship is almost 100% avoidable if the sailboat captain is paying attention. Note!! This doesn't mean that the sailboat would not be disrupting traffic, violating Colregs, causing heart attacks on the bridges of multiple commercial vessels or possibly contributing to potential collision situations between other vessels trying to dodge the sailboat. Also, if the other vessel is a high speed ferry or similar then that's a totally different situation.

So, ignoring all the above issues and just focusing on the risk of actual collision, am I wrong to think that risk to be very, very small?
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Old 24-09-2013, 08:45   #45
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Re: Big Ship Little Boat, who Gives way

Nigel,
Since you and your friends seem to have a pretty good view of what's going on on the bridge of a commercial vessel, I would like your view of an encounter with a curise ship that I had off of New York recently. I was on my way from Norfolk to Rhode Island and about 30 miles off the entrance to NY harbor, but still well south of the charted inbound and outbound lanes. I was motoring and had both running and steaming lights fully operational (about 2300 local time). I picked up a large vessel on radar at about 16 miles and began plotting it's course. My old radar does not have marpa. The vessel was about 30 degrees off the port bow. I was the stand on vessel. I determined by 8 miles that this was going to be a close quarters situation. The vessels superstructure was visible by this time and I saw both red and green bow lights. Since I was already on his bow I figured that I would safely pass in front of him but not by that much. He was doing about 15 knots according to my plot. At 6 miles I Was still seeing red and green and decided I was not comfortable as IMO the encounter was going to be very close. I changed course 90 degrees to his course and increased my speed to clear his bow by the maximum amount. Shortly after I changed course he changed course to port and re-established a close quarters situation. At about 4.5 miles I again changed course to 90 degrees from his new course. At 4 miles my plot showed he had changed course again and we were again in a close quarters situation. At that time I called him on VHF and asked him if he saw me and what his intentions were and if he saw me. I do not have AIS but I did have my radar reflector up. After a moment's hesitation he did say that he saw me and he was altering course to starboard. Interestingly he turned back to the same heading he was on when I first saw him on radar. Note that his course changes towards me were after my course changes. I had already lost sight of his green bow light twice before he changed course and I saw both lights again. Do you think that the just didn't see me or they had planned the course changes to pass in front of me and I screwed up their plans with my maneuvers? I guess another option is someone on the bridge wanted to see if they could make the guy on the small boat nervous. Since they went back to their original heading after I called them I'm a bit suspicious. When a big ship doing 15 knots turns on a collision course at 4 miles I do start to get nervous.
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