I see that the ferry
thread has been closed, and I do not wish to resurrect it, but AVB3 did request that I pass on the thoughts of the Mates on my boat, who are all professionally qualified.
So here goes:
Yesterday, I said I would put this scenario to my watchkeepers, and get their opinions on what they would do and expect in such a situation, and also their opinions on some of the Colreg interpretations expressed in the thread.
So, today, at lunch time, we spent 45 minutes going through this. Included in the discussion was the Mate, the 2nd Mate and Third Mate, in addition, our deck
cadet, and also a charming young French lady onboard who was conducting an audit. As she held an Unlimited Masters ticket, plus an Unlimited Chief Engineers ticket, and had sailed deep sea as both Mate and Chief Engineer
, I felt she too was also qualified to express an opinion.
So, first to the scenario, a power driven vessel overtaking a sail boat.
Unanimous, the overtaking vessel keeps clear of the vessel being overtaken, and in any event, it does not matter what type of vessel is being overtaken, Rule
13 is pretty concise on this.
Point was raised, what if this had taken place at night. At night, the watchkeeper on the ferry
would have no idea what type of vessel they were overtaking (unless NUC, RAM, or vessel engaged in fishing). At night, the overtaking vessel would see a single
Now, this white light could be a vessel seen from astern, a vessel at anchor
, or a vessel of less than 7m in length (and less than 7 kts speed), or a sailing vessel of less than 7 meters)
The view was that careful observation would indicate what they were dealing with, but in just about any event, if the bearing was steady, they would alter course, or if still not sure, reduce speed.
I put to them, that someone on CF was under the impression that big ships had terrible visibility from the bridge, huge blind sectors forward of the bow, all sorts of obstructions on the bridge leading to other vessels not being seen.
As the Mate so succinctly put it “Bollocks”, this then had to be translated into French.
Watchkeepers move about on the bridge, they walk from one side to the other, walk to the aft end and look astern, by doing this, we have a 360 view.
So, what if it had been in a narrow channel or fairway, pretty much the same answer, although the closing distance before taking action may well be less.
In narrow channels and fairways, a sailing vessel or a PD vessel of less than 20m shall not impede the safe passage
of another vessel which can only navigate within the channel.
However, the Colregs are very clear on this, if the sailing vessel does not take action to avoid impeding the safe passage
of the other vessel, then the vessel not to be impeded is fully obliged to follow the Colregs and take action to avoid collision
. If need be, the overtaking vessel can make a sound signal indicating that they request the vessel to be overtaken to take action to allow safe passing
So, that bit was sorted out, now I asked their opinions on what they would like to see a sail boat do if they sighted one at sea where risk of collision
In open waters, if the sail boat dodged out of the way at a considerable distance off, no problem. But this raised the question of when would the sail boat see us.
We keep a watch from the bridge, a good 20m above sea level. On the sail boat, the lookout may well have a height of eye a few feet above sea level. Long before the sailboat sights us, we would already have seen mast
(by day) or the tricolour light (at night). At this stage, the sail boat will still be unaware of us. We may spot the sail boat at say 8 to 10 miles out (radar then sight), the sail boat without radar
, it might be 5 to 6 miles before they see us, and 5 to 6 miles separation deep sea is when most ships are looking at a close quarters situation developing
However, I said open seas, if we took action and the sail boat took action at the same time, there is still time for us to re assess the situation and make another turn
In confined waters, it was again unaminously agreed, that if we had ascertained a close quarters situation was developing with a sail boat, it would be us who took action, and if the sail boat dodged out of the way, and dodged the wrong way, they would not be happy.
A common situation, we sight a sail boat, but we also have sighted a couple of trawlers beyond the sail boat. We are obliged to giveway to both types of vessels. But what if from the sail boats cockpit
, the lookout is completely unaware of the trawlers. What happens if we make a turn based on avoiding the sail boat and the trawlers, and the sail boat turns in towards us, situation starts to head
Lastly, I asked for some views on some of the statements made in the thread, and two were immediately highlighted, and these two were in the opening shots of this thread
“The least maneuverable has the right of way, always”
Gobsmacked by that statement, and in particular because it was an overtaking situation
And then this one
“I can’t imagine why a ferry captain would think a small sailboat WOULDN’T get out of his way”
or watchkeeper who held this view does not deserve to be at sea, and again, it was agreed by all the guys, and the lady, that this was a very dangerous view.
I’m pretty sure that the above will get pulled apart by someone, but the above is the view held by the mates on my boat.
In conclusion, I asked for a general opinion on how well the participants in the thread knew, and applied the COLREGS. It was generally agreed that most had a pretty good understanding of the COLREGS, and interpretation of the COLREGS was good.
But, sorry Raku, they did make a request that you stay on your side of the pond.
Lastly, just to clear things up, I drive tug boats, but to give you an idea of a tug boat, this is one of the boats I get to drive.
This thing could well be bigger than the ferry in the discussed incident. A draught of over 25 feet, length of 300 feet, gross tonnage is 6800.
Manoeuvrable ??. On passage, we have to limit the rudder
to less than 5 degree’s, anything more and she turns way to fast, and develops a pretty good angle of heel, hard over would have the cook complaining to the bridge that dinner was on the galley deck
And note, only one mast
, and the accommodation is at the wrong end as compared to most ships, so just how easy would it be to work out the aspect of this boat if it pops up over the horizon??