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Old 05-06-2014, 19:34   #61
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Are you talking about my pic?

That's the South coast of England

No that insane ship that was posted today
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Old 05-06-2014, 19:36   #62
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Doesn't look very busy, but your should clean that screen of all those silly colour spit marks so I can see the ships.
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:25   #63
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

Sometimes I think being a cruiser does not mean giving up on terra firma.

Id like a bit of both like this. Am checking prices of the apartments.

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Old 06-06-2014, 07:19   #64
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Good example. Now cram all those vessels into a 1/4 mile wide channel with some anchored and lots of small tugs darting in and out and peices of those ships may break off the main ship to go in another direction (the barges not having AIS while we are at it) and you have an idea of what it was like passing thru St. Louis.

Don't get me wrong. I agree whole heartedly that operating in congested areas with big ships requires respect and care but the responses I am getting here are the old guys hanging around the marina trying to scare the new guy stories. As long as we wait for a good weather window and have the boat in proper running order, I'm still not seeing it as something to be feared.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:00   #65
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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the responses I am getting here are the old guys hanging around the marina trying to scare the new guy stories. As long as we wait for a good weather window and have the boat in proper running order, I'm still not seeing it as something to be feared.
O.K. well your all set then.......

if you can sail across the English Channel (La Manche, if you're French) you can sail anywhere.

Notorious as being one of the most heavily trafficked shipping lanes in the world, with a large tidal range and fast currents, you really do need to keep your wits about you. Ive sailed various routes several times and havent done it for at least 14 years. I will be doing it later this year and not looking forward to it. The ferries are doing the same route as you and do not move for anyone.

We look forward to your notes on the trip...

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Old 07-06-2014, 04:16   #66
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Good example. Now cram all those vessels into a 1/4 mile wide channel with some anchored and lots of small tugs darting in and out and peices of those ships may break off the main ship to go in another direction (the barges not having AIS while we are at it) and you have an idea of what it was like passing thru St. Louis.

Don't get me wrong. I agree whole heartedly that operating in congested areas with big ships requires respect and care but the responses I am getting here are the old guys hanging around the marina trying to scare the new guy stories. As long as we wait for a good weather window and have the boat in proper running order, I'm still not seeing it as something to be feared.
Go here and have a look, Live Ships Map - AIS - Vessel Traffic and Positions - AIS Marine Traffic .

I just compared the St. Louis area to the Channel at the same scale and, well, I'll let you be the judge as far as traffic volume goes.

The other thing you will want to remember is that the vessels in the Channel are not skirting the coast or travelling along a bank. They're doing 10-20 k so you've got about 10 min from the time you see them on the horizon until they are on top of you (all of them, all the time, they're not anchored as a rule).

No you shouldn't be scared. Just remember that it's going to be busy on a scale you might find surprising.
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:06   #67
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by frank_f View Post
No you shouldn't be scared. Just remember that it's going to be busy on a scale you might find surprising.

Indeed, no need to be scared. But crossing the Channel will definitely be unlike any experience you've ever had with ship traffic. It has been compared to being a squirrel trying to run across a busy autobahn. Just the transit traffic through the Channel is over 400 ships a day, to which you can add coastal and ferry traffic, so it is very common to encounter a solid line of ships barreling down the channel at 16 to 18 knots and just a mile or two apart. It is not a joke!

On top of that you have strong tidal currents and very often very strong weather, which can create very challenging sea states when wind is against the tide.

The good news is that the prevailing wind is from the West, so more often than not you get a beam reach going across! A good thing, because you will need all the speed you can get when dodging all those ships!

A few tips for Channel crossing:

1. Have AIS which both transmits and receives, and know how to use it. When you are about to cross the shipping lane, keep written notes about the bearing, range, and CPA of the three or four most dangerous ships at regular intervals, so that there is no mistake in your mind about whether they are passing ahead or behind. Aim to pass close astern (but not less than a few cables) of a ship which does not have another ship following too closely. Even if you are the stand-on vessel, you should set up your crossing like this if at all possible in order to avoid making the ships maneuver unnecessarily.

2. If you are broadcasting AIS, you will find that virtually all ships in the Channel will be aware of you and will follow the COLREGS. So if you are under sail or passing through a line of ships coming from your port side, and assuming you are not in a TSS, and you are already within three or four miles of a ship, then stop maneuvering and stand on as you are required, and give them a chance to maneuver. They will usually try to pass behind you about a mile off. You can see them maneuvering in AIS, changing speed and course, and you will see them stop maneuvering when CPA is about one mile. Follow the COLREGS and don't make any sudden, erratic maneuvers.

3. Learn how to calculate tidal vectors and determine a Course to Steer, or you may find yourself miles downtide of your destination, adding many hours to your passage and a hard slog against the tide at the end. The tide runs harder on the French side, so this is particularly important when crossing from N to S.

4. Stay away from the TSS's in the Channel if at all possible. They are nightmares. Wherever there is a TSS, just pass along the ITZ until you get to a gap in the TSS, then go across. If you must cross a TSS, stay out of everyone's way and pass through as fast as possible and on a course (heading, NOT COG!) perpendicular to the TSS. VTS is watching all the TSS's on radar, and you are very likely to get a big fine (thousands of pounds, and perhaps even a criminal prosecution!) if you violate the TSS rules. It's not a joke!

5. If you don't have AIS (not recommended!), then you may be ignored by commercial traffic. Then it's much more dangerous. In this case, you should not pass through the shipping lanes in a way which might require a ship to maneuver. You will also find it much more difficult to calculate your crossings with ships, even if you have radar and MARPA. If you have neither AIS nor MARPA, then it becomes really hard. To do it purely visually, you will find it's easier at night, on a clear night with good visibility.
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:31   #68
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Indeed, no need to be scared. But crossing the Channel will definitely be unlike any experience you've ever had with ship traffic. It has been compared to being a squirrel trying to run across a busy autobahn. Just the transit traffic through the Channel is over 400 ships a day, to which you can add coastal and ferry traffic, so it is very common to encounter a solid line of ships barreling down the channel at 16 to 18 knots and just a mile or two apart. It is not a joke!
Aw Dockie.
I let it be and you went and spoiled it all

I will be doing it later this year. Ive done the cross channel bit about 12/13 times but not for 15 years now... Not my favourite. Hopefully will be with other and possibly a pilot. Its only got busier ...

Fun eh?
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:44   #69
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Indeed, no need to be scared. But crossing the Channel will definitely be unlike any experience you've ever had with ship traffic. ............................

A few tips for Channel crossing:

4. Stay away from the TSS's in the Channel if at all possible. They are nightmares. Wherever there is a TSS, just pass along the ITZ until you get to a gap in the TSS, then go across. If you must cross a TSS, stay out of everyone's way and pass through as fast as possible and on a course (heading, NOT COG!) perpendicular to the TSS. VTS is watching all the TSS's on radar, and you are very likely to get a big fine (thousands of pounds, and perhaps even a criminal prosecution!) if you violate the TSS rules. It's not a joke! .....................
Dockhead presents valuable advice here, but some with less experience may lose some understanding with the acronyms within this part 4.

TSS = Traffic Separation Scheme This is usually depicted on charts with two parallel shaded lanes with large traffic moving in opposing directions.

VTS = Vessel Traffic Service This is the managing government service ashore that monitors the traffic by radar.

COG = Course Over Ground

ITZ = Inshore Traffic Zone

I have not crossed the English Channel with my own boat, but I have been on others. This region is far more complex in traffic than my experiences in places like New York Harbor entrance or Boston.
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:56   #70
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Go here and have a look, Live Ships Map - AIS - Vessel Traffic and Positions - AIS Marine Traffic .

I just compared the St. Louis area to the Channel at the same scale and, well, I'll let you be the judge as far as traffic volume goes.

The other thing you will want to remember is that the vessels in the Channel are not skirting the coast or travelling along a bank. They're doing 10-20 k so you've got about 10 min from the time you see them on the horizon until they are on top of you (all of them, all the time, they're not anchored as a rule).

No you shouldn't be scared. Just remember that it's going to be busy on a scale you might find surprising.
The problem with your link is that only shows AIS hits. It doesn't show the hundreds of barges being staged and moved around or many of the small tow boats that shuttle back and forth often hidden behind other barges. The smallest hit I could find on your link map a 75' tug. The small ones dart around like gnats and they are in the 30-60' range but aren't shown on your map.

Much easier in my mind to deal with ships traveling in a straight line in open water. Here they are darting in and out. They are stopping and starting. If it's on a curve they may actually be skewing around at a 45 degree angle to account for the current, so it's not readily apparent where they are headed. If you haven't run the inland rivers, it's something that might surprise you also. Not to be scared but running 20-30' off 1000'x100' tow because that's all the space that is available (a basic 3x5 tow common on the smaller rivers) takes a bit of respect and getting used to. Once you get used to it, it's kind of cool but always requires your full attention.

Also, how bad is the visibility. At 20kts with 10 mile visibility, that should give you 30mintues from the time you see a ship before it is on top of you. We generally don't head if fog is predicted and aren't so testosterone driven that we can't turn back if conditions are bad. (a little more trying to scare the new guy by exaggerating?).

Yes, we will take is seriously and get the tides and crossing methods sorted before crossing. We will wait for a good weather window.

If we weren't looking for new experiences, we wouldn't be taking the boat over to Europe (UK & Ireland included to be specific). So far no one has come up with anything that deserves more than a healthy dose of respect. There are challenges in most new areas.
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:52   #71
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by weavis View Post
Aw Dockie.
I let it be and you went and spoiled it all

I will be doing it later this year. Ive done the cross channel bit about 12/13 times but not for 15 years now... Not my favourite. Hopefully will be with other and possibly a pilot. Its only got busier ...

Fun eh?
Funnily enough, the most important thing about Channel crossing from a sailor's perspective is that the wind is usually good for a rollicking beam reach. The English Channel is a wonderful place to sail; just somewhat challenging. I've found that AIS takes pretty much all of the terror out of it. If you get your CTS right and keep up with the ships and do the COLREGS dance properly I don't think it's all that bad. I've done it a few dozen times and obviously it becomes easier with practice.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:04   #72
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Having lived in florida for a few years....... this tickled me..
Florida is the only state that routinely has vultures circling over its airports and traffic delays for Gators. Goat wouldn't stand a chance.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:14   #73
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
The problem with your link is that only shows AIS hits. It doesn't show the hundreds of barges being staged and moved around or many of the small tow boats that shuttle back and forth often hidden behind other barges. The smallest hit I could find on your link map a 75' tug. The small ones dart around like gnats and they are in the 30-60' range but aren't shown on your map.

Much easier in my mind to deal with ships traveling in a straight line in open water. Here they are darting in and out. They are stopping and starting. If it's on a curve they may actually be skewing around at a 45 degree angle to account for the current, so it's not readily apparent where they are headed. If you haven't run the inland rivers, it's something that might surprise you also. Not to be scared but running 20-30' off 1000'x100' tow because that's all the space that is available (a basic 3x5 tow common on the smaller rivers) takes a bit of respect and getting used to. Once you get used to it, it's kind of cool but always requires your full attention.

Also, how bad is the visibility. At 20kts with 10 mile visibility, that should give you 30mintues from the time you see a ship before it is on top of you. We generally don't head if fog is predicted and aren't so testosterone driven that we can't turn back if conditions are bad. (a little more trying to scare the new guy by exaggerating?).

Yes, we will take is seriously and get the tides and crossing methods sorted before crossing. We will wait for a good weather window.

If we weren't looking for new experiences, we wouldn't be taking the boat over to Europe (UK & Ireland included to be specific). So far no one has come up with anything that deserves more than a healthy dose of respect. There are challenges in most new areas.
A healthy dose of respect is a good start


Collision avoidance in open water is a totally different exercise than dodging river traffic. Both are challenging in their own, very different ways. River traffic is tactical -- quick and correct responses to the developing situation.

Open water with ships is strategic -- you have to process a lot of data and make right decisions far enough ahead. Because 10 minutes from impact, say, you may already be incapable of avoiding a ship moving at 20 knots. You can't just dodge out of the way -- you have to analyze and understand the encounter, and plan the correct maneuver, while you still have some miles to go. What makes it especially hard is that you cannot in any way do it by just looking around you -- you can't tell with your bare eyes what ships are going to be a problem until, often, it's too late. It might not be that complex when you're dealing with one vessel at a time. What makes it really complicated in places like the Channel is that you may have to be figuring out your encounters with several ships at the same time.


Before I had AIS, I had a couple of really hairy situations where, for example, I managed to work out a solution and avoid one ship only to end up almost under the bows of another one, with a third just behind -- no time to calculate a solution with the tools I had, and so it was just dumb luck, that night, that I wasn't run down. Once you get within a mile or so of a fast moving ship (a mile is far too close!), he will stop trying to maneuver and hope you manage to dodge out of the way, because by that time he also will not be able to calculate any solution.


Now in the Channel besides supertankers and container ships moving at 20 knots, we also have fast ferries moving at 40 knots and more, and not following the shipping lanes. By the time you see these with your eyes, it's too late to do any collision avoidance. What's interesting is that these guys are actually no problem for us, simply because with such a great difference in speed, there really isn't anything we can do at any point in an encounter with them. Those vessels are highly maneuverable, and so they just steer right around us, so you typically just don't do anything at all except carry on and avoid any sudden course changes. Nothing in the COLREGS about that, but that's the reality of such an encounter.



"Also, how bad is the visibility. At 20kts with 10 mile visibility, that should give you 30 minutes from the time you see a ship before it is on top of you."

That is correct, and if there's only one ship on the horizon the job is relatively simple -- you have maybe 15 minutes to observe his bearings, figure out whether he's passing ahead or behind, then change course to pass safely behind him. That's plenty of time if you're dealing with one ship. But what if you see 10 ships at once? That would be typical. Even 20 ships in view at once would not be unusual. Most of them will not be on a collision course with you, but how do you know? With a hand bearing compass alone, you might not have time to pick out the dangerous one out of the crowd before he's run you down. AIS is immensely valuable here (and I only got it last year, so I did a couple dozen crossings without it), but even with AIS, you have to write down the bearings over a period of time to understand whether a target is crossing ahead or behind. Without knowing whether he's crossing ahead or behind, you don't know which way to turn to increase your CPA and unwind the situation. Sailing into a whole crowd of ships moving at high speed, this can become immensely complicated in a very short period of time, even with AIS.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:32   #74
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

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A healthy dose of respect is a good start
Before I had AIS, I had a couple of really hairy situations where, for example, I managed to work out a solution and avoid one ship only to end up almost under the bows of another one, with a third just behind -- no time to calculate a solution with the tools I had, and so it was just dumb luck, that night, that I wasn't run down. Once you get within a mile or so of a fast moving ship (a mile is far too close!), he will stop trying to maneuver and hope you manage to dodge out of the way, because by that time he also will not be able to calculate any solution. .
I have NEVER done the crossing with AIS.
I have done it with anxiety, irritation, 4 pairs of eyes, A radio on constantly, a heavy hand on the throttle, perspiration and frickin' hatred of cross channel ferries up my keyster or on my bow.

If I ever do it single handedly, or as my nephew is interested in crossing to France, Im going to do the long route from the Bristol Channel to the Isles of Scilly and down to the Northwest of France.

The Ferry crossing routes are not appealing to me.

I dont think it was EVER our intention to be local guys scaring the newbie.

I do think though that a newbie should understand when it is pointed out to them that they will be in the BUSIEST SHIPPING LANE in the world, that what is said is known internationally and even makes cargo vessel captains sweat and be wary. For a small craft, it will be going 90 degrees to the traffic, joining a traffic flow depending where you are headed, and fitting between 2 lanes of HUGE vessels in a designated and prescribed manner. There are a fair few requirements to KNOW before undertaking the journey.

This journey, with respect, cannot be compared with any other type because of its uniqueness.

Now there are small boat sailors that regularly cross the Channel a few times a year to visit the Channel Islands or France. I know one or two and they are pretty sensible and talented sailors. Even they seem to pay particular attention to the actual crossing and on edge until its done. If your vessel is capable of 10 knots, you will have to remember that the large ones are doing at least double that in a traffic lane, and if you stop one, you won't (because they dont stop.) you stop the whole line (you won't).

So there you have it. A fascinating experience awaits you. I just wish there was a certificate given for doing it.
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:05   #75
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Re: The "Other" Cruisers

Last week..... sigh

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