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Old 17-10-2014, 19:49   #136
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

I like the red and green... explanation best so far..simple and totally usable in my book!! Infact we sail in a small harbor/bay that is filled with huge tankers and we've done exactly that more then a few times.
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Old 17-10-2014, 20:30   #137
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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We had our tricolor on, but as the other boat neared 1.5 miles I put on the spreader lights to light up the deck and sails. The other boat continued heading straight for us.
You are right, he started out at 6 miles but quickly dropped to 1.5 in his description. As I said, the trouble at night is you really can't tell how far you are. Lights on a dark sea are completely deceptive.

When this happened to me. I came up from below and saw the lights on my starboard bow. The first thing I did was turn down to put the lights on my starboard beam. At least this way I knew I was moving out of his way as quickly as possible (or possibly in front of him) at something like 90 degrees to his course, but at least I was moving at the greatest possible speed in some direction that would eventually get me out of his way. From that point, it was easy for me to sit on the far side of the boat and compare his position to my stansions. I could easily see that he was falling behind me. It took some time, perhaps 30 seconds or a minute (that seemed like 30 minutes,) but I eventually saw his green light and I knew I was safe. I just continued in that direction.

I am a real believer that sailing the boat is the best thing I can do to get out of bad situations. The only time I actually ever hailed another vessel was when there was no wind and my fuel line was split so my motor was not an option, and it was a tug boat with a barge way behind - and he was coming right at me.
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Old 17-10-2014, 20:41   #138
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

+1 for Dockhead's comments. It would be good for the small boat folks to follow the lead of the big boys and expand you "comfort zone" as 1 mile is a bare minimum CPA offshore. By the time one is 2-3 miles apart, you should have completed any course changes and be monitoring the situation to be certain that nothing changes.
Question for you folks that like to bash us singlehanders: If you are maintaining a perfect watch on your fully crewed boat, how is a single hander a threat to you safety since you will have seen the other vessel and presumably changed course if required to keep a safe CPA? Unless you are sailing a small wood boat with no lights, radar reflector or AIS it is very unlikely that you will get within 4-5 miles of me without my knowledge. Other singlehanders are no more a risk than commercial vessels since most of us use all the technology available to our benefit and know when and where to maintain a more intense watch routine. Risky? A little bit, but far less than riding in a car or living in a city.
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Old 18-10-2014, 00:11   #139
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Question for you folks that like to bash us singlehanders: If you are maintaining a perfect watch on your fully crewed boat, how is a single hander a threat to you safety since you will have seen the other vessel and presumably changed course if required to keep a safe CPA?
They aren't. They just aren't credible sources of sailing information.
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Old 18-10-2014, 01:42   #140
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

>They aren't. They just aren't credible sources of sailing information. advice.

There, fixed it for you
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Old 18-10-2014, 03:43   #141
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Originally Posted by 7yrsorless View Post
I like the red and green... explanation best so far..simple and totally usable in my book!! Infact we sail in a small harbor/bay that is filled with huge tankers and we've done exactly that more then a few times.
Red and green side lights (and as someone mentioned -- much better, the two steaming lights) only tell you whether the bow is pointed at you (+/- 5 degrees).

Whether or not the bow of the big, scary, tanker is pointed at you does not indicate a collision course, unless either (a) you are stopped dead in the water; or (b) you are on exactly the same or exactly reciprocal course as the tanker is. In all other cases, whether or not his bow is pointed at you tell you nothing about whether you have a risk of collision or not.

To identify a risk of collision, you need a series of bearings.

In this case:



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You can't see the tanker's green sidelight. So you're safe, right? No! You're actually on a collision course. And you're about to die.

The fact that you see his red sidelight also does not guaranty that you can get out of danger by turning to port. Because it is possible that his course intersects yours behind you. In that case, turning to port will make the situation worse.

Gentlemen, there is no easy shortcut to collision avoidance. You cannot understand this situation without either a series of bearings or an electronic tool like AIS or MARPA. You cannot eyeball it using his nav lights, which is not "simple and usable", but useless.

If you're not willing to learn how to do this, then you need to stay out of the shipping channels and stay in water too shallow for them to go. That's the only "simple" method which works, and indeed that's the method I used on all my first boats which had no electronics at all.
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Old 18-10-2014, 03:57   #142
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Originally Posted by Foolish View Post
You are right, he started out at 6 miles but quickly dropped to 1.5 in his description. As I said, the trouble at night is you really can't tell how far you are. Lights on a dark sea are completely deceptive.

When this happened to me. I came up from below and saw the lights on my starboard bow. The first thing I did was turn down to put the lights on my starboard beam. At least this way I knew I was moving out of his way as quickly as possible (or possibly in front of him) at something like 90 degrees to his course, but at least I was moving at the greatest possible speed in some direction that would eventually get me out of his way. From that point, it was easy for me to sit on the far side of the boat and compare his position to my stansions. I could easily see that he was falling behind me. It took some time, perhaps 30 seconds or a minute (that seemed like 30 minutes,) but I eventually saw his green light and I knew I was safe. I just continued in that direction.

I am a real believer that sailing the boat is the best thing I can do to get out of bad situations. The only time I actually ever hailed another vessel was when there was no wind and my fuel line was split so my motor was not an option, and it was a tug boat with a barge way behind - and he was coming right at me.
He did know the range precisely -- he was using radar. But I do agree that being underway is much better than lying hove-to in a potential collision situation. At least you have some control over your situation.

But having way on is only useful if you know which way to go. In your case, it was pure luck that saved you -- if you could see obviously that he was passing behind, just from sighting over a stanchion, then you were never on a collision course to begin with, and you might as well have done nothing.

If you had been on a collision course, close enough that you could not immediately determine whether he was passing ahead or behind, what you did was a 50/50 gamble of increasing or reducing your CPA. I don't like those odds, myself.

The sight across a stanchion works only if you are on a really steady course and only if the CPA is big enough that it's obvious how he's passing you. The stanchion is great for filtering out cases where you are in no danger at all and so not worth tracking the ship with more precise means. We all use this method for that. But in a tight situation, the stanchion is useless, because unlike the compass needles in a hand bearing compass, your stanchion is not fixed in relation to North, so it's only a very crude measure of whether you have a constant bearing or not.

So using only your stanchion, you will not be able tell which way to turn, in many cases where this will be obvious from the more precise bearing you get from a HBC, and in many, many cases where this will be perfectly obvious using electronic means.

You take your life in your hands, being satisfied with such crude methods. No matter what electronic means you have, you should always have a hand bearing compass in the cockpit, if you're sailing in waters with traffic. This is a basic and incredibly useful tool.

This is actually another case where experience on roads in cars is very misleading and harmful for doing collision avoidance at sea. On roads in cars, it's always obvious which way you need to turn or veer to avoid a collision. You don't need any tools or techniques -- you see another car and immediately know what to do. It does not work like this at sea -- not at all. Ships which, observed with bare eyeballs, seem to be coming right at you, may often be no danger at all. And other ships, which don't seem to be approaching you at all, may be just about to run you down. You cannot determine this without taking bearings.
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Old 18-10-2014, 04:09   #143
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

When I was at college studying my yachtmasters theory in the 80s.... My instructor showed us 30 different incidents involving vessels using Radar.

He termed it Radar assisted collision.

We then had to learn the paper method of working out the angles and path to take. He was insistent on it.

My instructor was an ex senior Navy Radar instructor.
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Old 18-10-2014, 04:36   #144
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

I've been away from this thread dealing with a hurricane, but it has been interesting to see the turns it has taken. I described the event of last Saturday to show the importance of keeping watch, even hove to, even offshore (albeit in a well traveled area....we typically spotted 1-2 ships a day on radar but usually none visually).

I was prepared to maneuver if need be, but as the stand-on vessel I needed to wait to be sure the other vessel was not taking sufficient evasive action. I wasn't sure he was on a course to hit me, nor was I sure he would pass ahead (or behind) me.

A little more detail....I was hove to on a port tack, jib back winded on port side, wind at 60- 70 degrees off port bow. There was significant current in the area. I was moving (current and wind drift) at a heading of about 60 degrees off to starboard.

The other vessel was spotted and tracked by my crew for many miles. The woke me when it was 6nm away. The time between 6nm and 1.5nm I attempted to track visually and on radar to determine his course and intention, to hail him, and to make myself more visible.

If I had turned to starboard I would have more rapidly closed on a vessel that may have been planning to pass astern of me.

I felt I still had maneuvering time.

One thing I didn't do, but probably should've done would be to sound a warning horn. I'm surprised nobody mentioned this.

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Old 18-10-2014, 04:40   #145
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

If I was in the situation of seeing red and green at 1.5M I would assume the other vessel hasn't seen me. Depending where the ship is, would determine the appropriate action and time to deal with it. If it's close to dead ahead the CPA may already be 5 minutes so not much time to make radio calls. Also not much time to monitor the bearing using his lights or hand bearing compass.
In any case an obvious course change to starboard is required, at least 30 degrees, turn on deck lights, repeated 5 flashes with the torch at the ship and a white signal flare.

Personally I avoid being the stand on vessel passing ahead of the ship in any ship crossing situation that might cause them to alter course or speed if the CPA is less than 2M in open water. This isn't that hard to do with early and obvious action. A few degrees course change from 7M out can make for a safer crossing with increased CPA. The 2 issues of when course changes can and should be made are relative to traffic density and sea room. In open ocean I think course and speed changes of the stand on vessel are acceptable at around 10M, 30min CPA or even a bit less where there is a risk of collision, and the skipper of the stand on vessel must take action if there is a risk of collision at close quarters, which I would be making at around 7M, 20min CPA. Also keeping in mind as sailing vessels we are often making course changes to adapt to wind conditions and expecting ships to adjust course and speed changes to suit isn't possible.
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:02   #146
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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If you've been sleeping for hours at a time with no-one on watch, you can't possibly have ANY IDEA how many close calls you've had, or how many others you may have endangered. Not everyone out there has an AIS transmitter or effective radar reflector so even with all your "magic" turned on, modern electronics are no substitute for a human being regularly scanning the horizon and radar screen and listening and smelling and you can't do that while asleep.

You do have it right that singlehanding is irresponsible, at least when the singlehander continues to drive on toward his destination while asleep, completely ignoring his obligation to keep a watch while underway. How can right of way rules work to keep us all safe, if one (or both) of the boats involved have no-one on watch for hours at a time? If anyone intentionally operates a boat without a lookout for a longer period than the time it would reasonably take another boat to close with them, then they are putting their own life in danger as well as anyone else who might be out there. The other boat might be keeping a good watch and see you and he might not. But where else is it OK to just drive through traffic with your eyes closed, expecting the other guy to understand and accept just how "special" you are and to assume 100% of the responsibility of avoiding a collision?

The best modern day analogy to not keeping a watch that I can think of is teenage girls adamantly defending their right to texting while driving because, after all, they just deserve to go through life with everyone else deferring to them and getting out of their way, and besides, they haven't run into anyone yet so it MUST be safe!
You are of course correct in what you say, but sailing across an ocean in a small boat is fraught with danger anyway, and you have to accept that their is a possibility that you are not going to reach your destination, you can do a lot to reduce that risk, but you can never reduce it to zero.

My electronics packed up long before I reached Scotland, three VHF radios one packed up completely one transmitted but didn't receive and the battery in the hand held packed up, but I got that one working by hooking it to a main battery. My single side band received but didn't transmit, I ended up using a sextant and a set of tables.

As for not knowing how many close calls I had, some times its better not to know, I sailed within a boat length of whale that was a lot bigger than my 31 foot boat, that worried me a lot, had I been sleeping at the time, it would be one less worry for the rest of the trip.

The time that I came close to another sailing vessel, was partly due to fatigue, and partly due to the light he was showing. I had at first seen sidelights, and white masthead light, and thought it was a large ship a long way off, when in truth it was a small sailing vessel very close, why he was showing his masthead light, I don't know, and he was under full sail. The lights being low on the horizon, made me think that it was a larger vessel, and further off.

Single handing though is a high risk way of sailing, fall over the side, and their is no one to pull you back onboard, break a leg, and their is no one to take over sailing the boat, hit floating debris while you are sleeping, and its over, on the round the world single handed race, boats just disappear maybe hit an ice berg while the solo sailor is asleep, it is a very high risk hobby, but its legal.
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:04   #147
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Originally Posted by Sailormantx View Post
+1 for Dockhead's comments. It would be good for the small boat folks to follow the lead of the big boys and expand you "comfort zone" as 1 mile is a bare minimum CPA offshore. By the time one is 2-3 miles apart, you should have completed any course changes and be monitoring the situation to be certain that nothing changes.
Question for you folks that like to bash us singlehanders: If you are maintaining a perfect watch on your fully crewed boat, how is a single hander a threat to you safety since you will have seen the other vessel and presumably changed course if required to keep a safe CPA? Unless you are sailing a small wood boat with no lights, radar reflector or AIS it is very unlikely that you will get within 4-5 miles of me without my knowledge. Other singlehanders are no more a risk than commercial vessels since most of us use all the technology available to our benefit and know when and where to maintain a more intense watch routine. Risky? A little bit, but far less than riding in a car or living in a city.
Nice attempt at creating a strawman but nobody has claimed to keep a "perfect watch," whatever that means, but I do think it's important for everyone at sea to attempt to follow the rules that are designed to keep us from inadvertently running into each other. Even when you have adequate crew and someone on watch, stuff happens at sea that can cause "momentary" distractions that become more than momentary so nobody, whatever their intentions, keeps a "perfect watch" that guarantees they will never be surprised by another boat close aboard. But when both boats involved in a potential collision have someone on watch at all times, it becomes a lot less likely that both watchkeepers will be momentarily distracted at the same time, resulting in a collision. What gives you or anyone else the right to ignore the rule requiring that you keep a watch at all times just because you enjoy putting yourself into a situation where it would be impractical to follow that rule? I'm sure you're very special and everyone else at sea should just get out of your way so you can singlehand and snooze at will, but what makes you think you have the right to give me 100% of the responsibility to ensure that you don't run into me?
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Old 18-10-2014, 10:11   #148
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Originally Posted by acco.

A
The other vessel was spotted and tracked by my crew for many miles. The woke me when it was 6nm away. The time between 6nm and 1.5nm I attempted to track visually and on radar to determine his course and intention, to hail him, and to make myself more visible.

app
The other choice you could have made was an ALL Ships DSC transmision on the VHF. Not only does this sound an alarm in every ships radio but its digitally logged so the ships owners will find out about it.


This situation is where AIS comes into its own. You ca see his exact course and see if he has altered. Also it gives you his name and MMSI so you can VHF him by name, or DSC as above.

At sea you could also use your DSC distress button. Nice alarm on that one and recorded too, of course but I wouldnt do it near he coast where it would upset the neighbours....
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Old 18-10-2014, 10:38   #149
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

jtsailj

^^ It is important to understand that this, like all safety decisions, depends on a risk assessment/trade-off.

It is not an absolute thing. If you wanted to make it an absolute thing, then just for one example, every boat should have a 20kw radar (because 4kws are pretty worthless in fog and rain), and they should have it on 100% of the time. Do you have a 20kw radar on all the time? If not, then your own argument would suggest you are taking a risk with my life!

So let's agree that we in fact are not going to do 'everything/anything possible regardless of cost/effort', but rather lets agree what we are going to do is make a risk/return/cost trade-off/optimization. So how do we optimize this?

AIS has fundamentally changed the whole collision avoidance equation. If you are transmitting AIS, I will not hit you. Period. full stop. (mmmm . . . barring some serious act of god) Even when I am very fatigued and singlehanding. Nothing (recreational) but AIS works in really bad conditions - not recreational radar and not the mark I eyeballs either - neither work in well in heavy fog/rain/heavy weather but AIS does. So the priority to pursue here is for you to be transmitting AIS and for everyone else (particularly short handed) to also.

So, are you transmitting AIS?

If both vessels have AIS transceivers then the risk increment between double handed and 'fully crewed' is as close to zero as anyone could want. (remember, even fully crewed ships with every piece of mil-spec gear in the world do still occasionally get into collisions)
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Old 18-10-2014, 11:08   #150
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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, it is a very high risk hobby, but its legal.

Actually failing to maintain a proper watch is illegal so yes single handlers are breaking maritime law, including vender globe racers, but is anyone going to stop them? Does anyone want to? I for one don't mind taking up the slack for these guys to be able to do their thing. It would be a shame to see single handlers punished by the law for just doing what they love.
Now the guys on the fishing boat that was run down by the vendee globe skipper while he was napping last year might have a different opinion of course...imagine that a yacht doing 25K straight at you! It would be pretty hard to comprehend at first and I'd be wondering wtf if I saw it on AIS as well..
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