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Old 19-06-2015, 20:11   #1
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how close to container ship?

Ok, so my semi-newbie question is NOT about a container ship under way. it is one docked. on a river. neither loading/unloading or prepping to get underway. I am sailing close hauled where a river bends over the course of about two miles, and my course allows me to run without tacking by starting on the east side of the river, running close to the west side halfway around this bend, and then ending up on the east side again another mile downstream. my alternative would of course have been to throw a few tacks in but time was short and it just wasn't necessary. however, on the west shore is this container ship so I end up going by about 50 yards from its beam. Calm conditions, no worries on our end... until the captain gets on channel 13 to ask if I had a death wish or something. understood, I stay away from working ships as a general practice... this just did not seem a terribly unsafe situation by any stretch.

So the question is, was I too close, what was the danger, and what would be a safe distance in this situation?
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Old 19-06-2015, 20:23   #2
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Re: how close to container ship?

It probably would have been best to ask the ship captain. I have no idea why he would have been concerned from your description so I would have asked him. Maybe he was preparing to get underway.
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Old 19-06-2015, 20:36   #3
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Re: how close to container ship?

We've sailed closer than that to docked container ships. The entire channel was probably only 200 yards wide. Nobody raised an eyebrow.

Military and "sensitive" ships often have a 100-yard exclusion zone around them, enforced by people with guns. I keep my distance from these.
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Old 19-06-2015, 20:36   #4
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Re: how close to container ship?

Don't understand either. Even docked I wouldn't get too close to a container ship but death wish? Were they actively loading? Maybe he was concerned a dropped container might land on your head. They drop one occasionally.
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Old 19-06-2015, 20:56   #5
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Re: how close to container ship?

The winds may vary somewhat as they are deflected by the ship, so maybe the captain was concerned you were going to lose way and drift into it. 50 yards is fairly close.

However, it reminds me of a time I did similar with an anchored ship, planning to sail past their bow, well in front of the anchor line. As we approached, I could hear an alarm sounding and 2 crew members came from the bridge and walked towards the bow. There didn't seem to be any annoyance from them, but I'm sure it wasn't coincidence.

I suspect it was an automatic proximity alarm and they came out to check that all was OK.

So in your case, maybe an alarm went off, waking whoever was "on duty".
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Old 19-06-2015, 21:05   #6
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Re: how close to container ship?

In the US, as part of the punishment of ordinary citizens for 9/11, port areas and ships in those ports are within a restricted area and we are excluded. Some ships that appear as civilian are under lease or contract to the military and often as restricted as a warship. In the PNW I have been run away from log loading dock areas when no ship was in sight and wasn't aware the dock was part of an organized port.
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Old 20-06-2015, 06:28   #7
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Re: how close to container ship?

Thanks for the replies. I was definitely a little worried that a wind shift make the ship a lee shore... then again I do have an engine and could have cranked it up if needed.
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Old 20-06-2015, 07:02   #8
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Re: how close to container ship?

Lots of unknowns from your description:

How wide was the channel? 200yds wide, should be an issue. 1 mile wide, you were probably too close for comfort.

All this assumes you really knew what the ship was doing. He may have been preparing to leave or there may have been a tug about to come out from behind his stern unseen by you.

Also security may take a shoot first, ask questions later approach.

Most likely he was overstating the case but you were clearly too close for comfort. We generally give large ships as much space as we reasonably can.
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Old 20-06-2015, 07:32   #9
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Re: how close to container ship?

according to the patriot act, you can go only to 500 ft of said container ship.
same with navy ships and cruise ships.
read the rules well. they change as homeless insecurity deems fit.
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Old 20-06-2015, 07:45   #10
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Re: how close to container ship?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke95 View Post
Ok, so my semi-newbie question is NOT about a container ship under way. it is one docked. on a river. neither loading/unloading or prepping to get underway. I am sailing close hauled where a river bends over the course of about two miles, and my course allows me to run without tacking by starting on the east side of the river, running close to the west side halfway around this bend, and then ending up on the east side again another mile downstream. my alternative would of course have been to throw a few tacks in but time was short and it just wasn't necessary. however, on the west shore is this container ship so I end up going by about 50 yards from its beam. Calm conditions, no worries on our end... until the captain gets on channel 13 to ask if I had a death wish or something. understood, I stay away from working ships as a general practice... this just did not seem a terribly unsafe situation by any stretch.

So the question is, was I too close, what was the danger, and what would be a safe distance in this situation?
My response would have been "Negative. Just checking to see if you were aground and requiring a tow"

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Old 20-06-2015, 09:15   #11
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Re: how close to container ship?

Originally Posted by Duke95 View Post
"Ok, so my semi-newbie question is NOT about a container ship under way. it is one docked. on a river. neither loading/unloading or prepping to get underway. I am sailing close hauled where a river bends over the course of about two miles, and my course allows me to run without tacking by starting on the east side of the river, running close to the west side halfway around this bend, and then ending up on the east side again another mile downstream. my alternative would of course have been to throw a few tacks in but time was short and it just wasn't necessary. however, on the west shore is this container ship so I end up going by about 50 yards from its beam. Calm conditions, no worries on our end... until the captain gets on channel 13 to ask if I had a death wish or something. understood, I stay away from working ships as a general practice... this just did not seem a terribly unsafe situation by any stretch.

So the question is, was I too close, what was the danger, and what would be a safe distance in this situation?"


what i said.. you need to give 500 ft per homeless insecurity. look it up. since the uss coles incident and other lovely terrorist activities perpetrated on shipping and ships, there is a 500 ft mandatory distance to maintain from these behemoths, including while they are in port. period. 500 ft, per homeless insecurity of us govt.
donot forget to remember the uss coles.
PATRIOT ACT
sometimes that 500 ft is not possible, in which case, remain as far off them as you are able, even while they are docked and taking on provisions or resting.
in some ports you willbe reminded by cute lil gunships of usn.
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Old 20-06-2015, 09:25   #12
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Re: how close to container ship?

Keep in mind that although your hull may be several feet away from the ship, your mast may be leaning several feet further, and could catch on hull fittings or gear. But I doubt you are that close.

If the ship captain is on his bridge, you will disappear below his rail. From his point of view, you are on a collision course. He cannot see you come about or change course from his vantage point.

I often like to tack close into shore. My rule is that when the wife starts yelling at me, I come about. One time I forgot my wife wasn't aboard...and I almost ran aground.
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Old 20-06-2015, 09:58   #13
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Re: how close to container ship?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
according to the patriot act, you can go only to 500 ft of said container ship.
same with navy ships and cruise ships.
read the rules well. they change as homeless insecurity deems fit.
That is incorrect. The general rule is no go closer than 100 yards, must reduce speed to minimum within 500 yards.

http://www.uscg.mil/d13/dpw/docs/Pro...neswebcopy.pdf
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Old 20-06-2015, 10:10   #14
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Re: how close to container ship?

Ok thanks! I was clearly being unpatriotic then!
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Old 20-06-2015, 11:15   #15
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Re: how close to container ship?

As with so many things, when you have any doubt it is time to do something else. Any thought about being too close too means you are. Just like reefing, if you think maybe you should, you should.
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