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Old 14-09-2013, 07:55   #46
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
It would be that way because the boat gaining from behind has more speed and maneuverability or it wouldn't be gaining on the sailboat.
Sorry but that logic does not work. There could be a 1000' oil tanker that is much faster than your little sailboat so could easily overtake you but I guarantee your sailboat would be much more maneuverable than the oil tanker.
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Old 14-09-2013, 08:08   #47
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Re: Washington State Ferry Collides with Sailboat

It will be interesting to read the official accident report...
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Old 14-09-2013, 08:43   #48
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Indeed, however common sense is a commodity that has always been in short supply...

I certainly would not be sitting there watching a bigger ship bearing down on me, but I suppose it all comes down to visibility in fog. It could well be that the two vessels could not see each other until avoidance was too late.

People on shore say the fog was spotty and not heavy, and that they heard no foghorns. I would probably need a change of clothes if I got caught in fog and then heard BIIIIIG foghorns. Fog messes with both auditory and visual directionality, just for starters ...

But apparently the fog was not heavy and spotty. No one is reporting fog *as a factor* in this collision.
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Old 14-09-2013, 10:52   #49
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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People on shore say the fog was spotty and not heavy, and that they heard no foghorns. I would probably need a change of clothes if I got caught in fog and then heard BIIIIIG foghorns. Fog messes with both auditory and visual directionality, just for starters ...

But apparently the fog was not heavy and spotty. No one is reporting fog *as a factor* in this collision.
I said that the fog was spotty in my location. The accident took place a few miles away, and it might have been heavier there -- I don't know. Still, the original reports didn't mention fog.

For what it's worth, it's foggy here again this morning, and I do hear foghorns. Be careful out there!

Not to sidetrack this discussion, but this might have been a case where AIS would have helped. A couple of months ago I was at the helm of a Univ. WA research vessel (out of Friday Harbor Labs), and we were holding position mid-channel pulling in our sampling dredge. We had a ferry coming from one direction, and another big boat coming from the other. All three of us had AIS transponders, and we were able to negotiate a simultaneous crossing via VHF. If the sailboat had even an AIS receiver he might have noticed the ferry before it was too late. But, absent any fog keeping a visual watch would be better.
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Old 14-09-2013, 10:57   #50
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Several minor observations from a sailor who has spent many years transiting Harney Channel and dodging Washington State Ferries. I have anchored in Blind Bay on Shaw Island for weeks at a time watching the ferries run to both Shaw and Orcas

- If you have not navigated Harney you have no idea how confusing and troubling the water and traffic can be

- many folks on this forum have a very dangerous misunderstanding of the rules of the road as it applies to sailboats and a total lack of appreciation for practical and safe navigation practices.

- Harney channel is a challenging and often dangerous environment for sailboats. I have sailed thru and across the channel hundreds of times as a single hander in a 40' boat, a captain on a crewed bigger sailboat, and crew on many smaller sailbats.

Please note the dimensions and locations of the ferry landings on the attached image - click on it to get a bigger image

The channel has some strong currents that vary greatly from side to side and from east to west.

The wind is very erratic and swirls and twists as it moves thru the channel

The Washington State Ferries always take different routes depending on their destination. Sometimes a ferry coming from the east will go to Orcas first and then to Shaw, other times they go to Shaw first and then Orcas, and sometimes they go to only Orcas and then head back east while bypassing Shaw.

There is no way to know where the ferry is headed since they might take a path on one side of the channel, pass their destination, and then circle back to their destination in order to have a favorable angle to the dock while struggling with the current.

I have, on many occasions, been very surprised when I passed a ferry I thought was headed to Orcas which then seemed to make a 180 degree turn and head back toward me while trying to dock at Shaw.

On a given day, in seemingly identical conditions, I've seen the same ferry transit the channel on the far north side, in the middle, and on the far south side.

There have been times, when sailing, that I have tried to hold my course while having the right of way, made contact via VHF, with the ferry, told them my intentions and they acknowledged those intentions, and then had the ferry pass within 10 yards of me while I had rocks just five yards to the other side.

It is confusing and difficult and I can easily understand how both boats where sure they were doing the correct, and safe, thing.

However, a single hander (which I am more often than not), going below for even a minute in Harney with a ferry in sight is just asking to have a serious problem.
Very well said. I dont think many here understand the nature of that pass and the ferry landings. Ferries come off landings head east and appear like they are going to anacortes, only to reveal that they are in a 3 point turn and head west to their next destination. or vicea versa. These ferries are huge, powerful, accelerate quickly, and have 2 bows. I am not sure, but also the ferry crew has to walk from one bridge to the other at some point. I am curious as to the protocol of which bridge to use at what times when they leave a dock or are executing a 3 pt turn maneuver.

My parents lived on lopez for the last 30 years, so I know not to take my eyes off a ferry in that area as their movements are extremely unpredictable. I do not leave my helm when in this area.
It is stated that the sailboat crew was 'below' when the accident occurred. The boat appears to be a fisher 27 pilothouse, which I suspect we may find out that the crew was actually at the 'helm' inside the pilothouse and not below. Regardless, that area is not a place to be below.
As kids sailing in the area, we were always taught to just stay the hell out of the way of the ferry, regardless of right of way.
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:00   #51
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Out of how many ferry runs during that time?
Alot more problems than just those times for sure. These guys seem to run aground more often than you would think.... on a run they do all day long and hundreds of times. I guess they just go brain dead doing the same run over and over.
But good point, the percentage is quite low I would imagine!
Seems pretty obvious neither of these vesels was "under command" based on what the witenesses said...!
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:14   #52
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Alot more problems than just those times for sure. These guys seem to run aground more often than you would think.... on a run they do all day long and hundreds of times. I guess they just go brain dead doing the same run over and over.
But good point, the percentage is quite low I would imagine!
Seems pretty obvious neither of these vesels was "under command" based on what the witenesses said...!

As someone says in MAN OF LA MANCHA, "Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it's going to be bad for the pitcher!"
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:15   #53
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

Following the 9/11 attack a law was passed that restricted other boats from approaching passenger ferries whether under way or at the dock. In Puget Sound it is common to see a small orange USCG gunboat escorting a ferry presumably enforcing this rule. I don't recall the exact distances but it seems to me the rule was 200yds at the dock and 1/4 mile under way. I'm pretty certain this would trump colregs.
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:26   #54
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

The unwritten COLREGS Rule: THE RULE OF GROSS TONNAGE!

I used to push barges.... 110'x50' barges with 1700 tons of prestressed concrete bridge beams on deck. Full crash stop was a minimum of 1/4 mile with three engines astern wide open. Had a crossing sailboat one time argue with me on the VHF about giving way... I won
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:31   #55
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Following the 9/11 attack a law was passed that restricted other boats from approaching passenger ferries whether under way or at the dock. In Puget Sound it is common to see a small orange USCG gunboat escorting a ferry presumably enforcing this rule. I don't recall the exact distances but it seems to me the rule was 200yds at the dock and 1/4 mile under way. I'm pretty certain this would trump colregs.
The actual law as written (note the part I bolded):

"Washington State Ferries and other Passenger Carrying Vessels: Operate your vessel at minimum speed when within 500 yards and do not approach within 100 yards. If you must approach within 100 yards to comply with the Navigation Rules you must contact the Master of the vessel or the Coast Guard escort vessels or other on scene escort vessels on VHF-FM channel 13 or 16 for instructions. Do not approach within 25 yards of a moored passenger vessel. 33-CFR-1317"
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Old 14-09-2013, 12:39   #56
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

This is one time when large ships should actually yield:
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Old 14-09-2013, 13:56   #57
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Mmmmm . . . .

First there are no "special rules" in the state of Washington giving ferrys right of way. The standard colregs apply. There is a uscg "recreational vessel manual for puget sound" online that explicitly says this.

Second, in TSS (traffic separation lanes), ferrys and other large vessels do have the right "not to be impeded" by small vessels. That is standard colregs rule 10. There are many TSS around puget sound, BUT there was not in the channel where the accident took place.

Third, The sail boat was under power and to the Ferry's starboard (according to observers), and so was the stand on vessel, rule 15. Speculation is that the ferry captain was not paying close attention and simply did not see the sail boat. The colregs require even the stand-on vessel to take action if a collision is imminent and the sail boat did not ( rule 17) .. . . So both captains were at fault.

That all said, it is prudent and polite for small sailboats to navigate at the edge of channels where ferrys are running rather than go down the middle and expect to maintain stand-on status.
I stand corrected concerning ferries, Wash State law, and right of way.
My apologies for spreading false info. Whether I was misinformed or I misunderstood, I was wrong and so admit.
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Old 14-09-2013, 14:45   #58
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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Out of how many ferry runs during that time?
WA State Ferry system as a whole has about 450 daily sailings, varying slightly between seasons.

That extrapolates to about 165,000 sailings per year.
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Old 14-09-2013, 15:30   #59
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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This is one time when large ships should actually yield:

BAH -- my good computer crashed. This is my old backup, and it won't play the video. I was sure someone would find an exception -- there's always sone.

Surely would like to know what it is ...
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Old 14-09-2013, 15:32   #60
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Re: What can happen when you cut off a ferry

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WA State Ferry system as a whole has about 450 daily sailings, varying slightly between seasons.

That extrapolates to about 165,000 sailings per year.

Fascinating that you could actually answer that question -- thank you!

That makes their accident ratio pretty darned low. And now that we've had the currents, etc. explained to those of us not terribly familiar with those waters, that accidents that do happen are more understandable.
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