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Old 10-12-2014, 09:01   #31
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Originally Posted by SailRedemption View Post
Agreed, I'm a professional mariner as well. Never heard of "wafi"i usually just alter course and mumble to myself or vent to whoever is on the bridge with me at the time at how ignorant and reckless small boat "skippers"(I use this word as these types of people don't deserve the title, Captain, as they are a bunch of jackwagons who don't take the time to actually learn before they jump on the helm) are when it comes to encounters with commercial vessels. I have heard other mariners get vocal, especially with the shrimp vessels who never respond on 16 or much less monitor it. I try to just give as much sea room as practical as to not completely change my course to another cardinal direction.

I plan on sailing to my vessel while it's offshore and see what my radar pickup is with and without the ball that came with my vessel. Well, that and sailing next to my crew with an adult beverage in hand!

- Ronnie...on the geaux

It's probably not necessary to point out to you that for being seen by commercial vessels, the killer app is AIS.

Having had it now for two years, I would never go to sea without it again. You will know from being on a commercial bridge that broadcasting AIS makes a "target", which might well be a false return, into a "vessel", with name, course, speed, and CPA calculated much more precisely than ARPA can do it.

It is so powerful that I can well imagine that boats not broadcasting AIS will increasingly be ignored -- it's just human nature.

I find myself even making the odd radar return with no AIS target a really much lower priority.

Of course you also need a radar reflector. There are various tests; read up on it. Essentially, most radar reflectors are useless; the only ones which have much of an effect are the large multi-plane ones, set up in the correct "rain catcher" orientation. Even better than that is an active radar transponder like "Sea Me". But none of that is any substitute for AIS.

If you are used to programming your voyage data into the AIS on your ship and you don't mind the extra work load, you might even consider a Type "A" AIS transponder for your sailboat -- then you can really be sure of being seen, and from a lot further off, too. Digital Yacht and maybe some others now make affordable Type "A" AIS transponders. I don't have one just because I don't want the hassle of programming it every time I go out.
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Old 10-12-2014, 09:11   #32
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

Try bringing them up on Ch 13 (bridge to bridge) next time. Almost all passing arrangements made between commercial vessels are made on Ch 13. In harbors with a VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) system commercial vessels usually monitor the designated channel for VTS communications and channel 13. Monitoring 16 becomes zero priority or a very low priority. One can only effectively monitor only so many channels. It's alarming how many amateurs have no idea about channel 13.
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Old 14-12-2014, 13:25   #33
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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The simultaneous move which makes the situation worse is exactly what the Colregs are designed to prevent.

In my opinion, following the Colregs exactly is the right thing to do.

Keep in mind that the decision point for ships in open water is usually around 10 miles. So if they haven't maneuvered by 7 or 8 miles, then it's a fair bet that they don't see you or for some reason don't intend to maneuver, so you are now allowed by the Colregs to take some kind of action.

In such cases, notwithstanding the MCA advice mentioned above, I do use the radio. If the ship doesn't respond, then it means the bridge is asleep at the switch, and this means that there is little risk of a dangerous simultaneous maneuver, so I just get out of the way. When doing so, avoid turns to port unless it's really necessary. And you have to do it early enough to be sure that you are really opening up the CPA instead of closing it (as a rule of thumb, at least four or five miles out, in my opinion). This is all perfectly sanctioned by the Colregs, which allow the stand-on vessel to maneuver itself if it is evident that the give-way vessel is not taking action. The trick is not to do it so early that you screw a maneuver which is he is in the process of doing himself, but not so late that you get into close quarters.

With AIS, you can understand these encounters far better than you ever could without that tool. At 10 miles out, you will very often see a CPA of exactly one mile -- because that is the standard acceptable CPA on many ships (that's why in your encounter that guy turned hard to give a mile). Then you know that he's already maneuvered and you must hold your course and speed in order not to screw up the crossing.

In your encounter, I would definitely have maneuvered earlier -- as soon as he didn't answer your call. 2.5 miles is uncomfortably close, and far too late for the first maneuvers to be initiated. And passing two cables ahead is just about the worst nightmare scenario -- a CPA of zero is easier, because a moderate course alteration can have you passing behind -- and two cables behind is not that bad. If you're passing a little ahead, however, you might not be able to get all the way over to pass behind; yet you don't want to be two cables ahead, which can easily turn into a collision with a slight variation of speeds.

In these waters (La Manche, busiest seaway in the world), ships' bridges tend to be alert, and tend to follow the Coregs exactly. Since installing AIS, I haven't had any really dangerous encounters (before AIS, using only radar and/or HBC, a lot of situations seemed to be dangerous which probably actually were not) in these waters (I did in Russia, though, and once or twice in the North Sea). Bridges tend to be alert, and when you call them by name, they nearly always answer (whether they can speak English is another question ). I have meet a few ships who didn't follow the one mile rule, and I have been known to call on the VHF to ask for a bit more room. Never been refused. The thing is is that when you're under sail, especially sailing hard on the wind, your course and speed vary quite a bit, making CPA calculations less accurate. So you really don't want a crossing with less than a mile CPA while you're under sail, unless maybe you're clearly passing behind, in which case, half a mile or so seems ok to me.
Good points thanks.

I have since got the software upgraded on Maxsea and OpenCPN. They both give now an accurate representation of where the CPA will be, behind or in front, so it is easy to work out if it is better to speed up or slow down and so helps hugely in making a good decision.

I think it is also sensible when this happens again that I fail to get a response whilst on a collision course and if I have to act contrary to colregs is also to transmit on the radio (into the blind if necessary) what I am doing.
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Old 14-12-2014, 13:32   #34
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Try bringing them up on Ch 13 (bridge to bridge) next time. Almost all passing arrangements made between commercial vessels are made on Ch 13. In harbors with a VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) system commercial vessels usually monitor the designated channel for VTS communications and channel 13. Monitoring 16 becomes zero priority or a very low priority. One can only effectively monitor only so many channels. It's alarming how many amateurs have no idea about channel 13.
I know channel 13 is used a lot in coastal traffic and near harbours particularly in the US, but this ship was a Panamanian flag just approaching the Caribbean sea after having crossed the Atlantic. I didn't expect such ships would monitor 13. Wouldn't he just have been monitoring channel 16?
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Old 14-12-2014, 18:39   #35
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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I know channel 13 is used a lot in coastal traffic and near harbours particularly in the US ... I didn't expect such ships would monitor 13. Wouldn't he just have been monitoring channel 16?
And when you're near a bridge in the ICW, it might be channel 9 they are monitoring. Personally I feel like an idiot repeating the same long message three times (on 16, 13, and 9). And while I'm broadcasting on the 2d channel I can't hear a reply on the 1st. And by the time I try 2 or 3 channels and wait for a reply, the situation has changed. Not to mention having to tell my radio to monitor all three channels.

Any advice on what channel order to call on? If near a bridge I use 9, then 16, then 13. Other places 16 then 13.

Or how long to wait before deciding they aren't going to respond on a given channel?

Do tugs and ships monitor more than one channel?

Fair winds,
Jack
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Old 14-12-2014, 19:04   #36
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

Apparently some of you feel privileged to hold your course when in a collision course with another vessel. Do you have the same mindset when driving a car? Delaying your response to an eminent collision just because you are in the right (refer to colregs)? I don't care if it is a vessel with a happy new owner on the wrong side of the channel, I take evasive action early. Ditto when in open waters regardless of the tonnage. I value my wife and am not about to be chastised by her for scaring the be-jesus out of her, regardless of how macho I feel. So you can call me whimpy, but call me safe.
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Old 14-12-2014, 19:16   #37
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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And when you're near a bridge in the ICW, it might be channel 9 they are monitoring. Personally I feel like an idiot repeating the same long message three times (on 16, 13, and 9). And while I'm broadcasting on the 2d channel I can't hear a reply on the 1st. And by the time I try 2 or 3 channels and wait for a reply, the situation has changed. Not to mention having to tell my radio to monitor all three channels.

Any advice on what channel order to call on? If near a bridge I use 9, then 16, then 13. Other places 16 then 13.

Or how long to wait before deciding they aren't going to respond on a given channel?

Do tugs and ships monitor more than one channel?

Fair winds,
Jack
Push boats will have at least 2 radios in the wheel house and yes..typically they'll be monitoring 13/16 and another local working frequency. My (work) boat has 4 although when transiting there are usually just a couple channels to be listening to. I have a handheld and one fixed unit on my personal sailboat to keep an ear out for 16/13 and VTS.

I'm not too familiar with working frequencies on the ICW, but it should say in the Coast Pilot for your area. My advice is to have two vhf radios if you are transiting in heavily congested areas with commercial traffic. I know it can be confusing to have a radio on dual watch sometimes that's why I like redundancy. If a guy doesn't come back he might be talking to a dispatcher or the office, so keep trying. Another problem is that you maybe calling on 16/13 and they are only monitoring the local frequency.
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Old 15-12-2014, 03:09   #38
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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... My advice is to have two vhf radios if you are transiting in heavily congested areas with commercial traffic. I know it can be confusing to have a radio on dual watch sometimes that's why I like redundancy. If a guy doesn't come back he might be talking to a dispatcher or the office, so keep trying. Another problem is that you maybe calling on 16/13 and they are only monitoring the local frequency.
Thanks, Sssssailor,

Two radios (or even three) would help in monitoring, when I'm trying to reach a vessel on ch 13 and he's responding on 16. But I guess there's no good solution to knowing which channels to try first. I thought that was the purpose of 16.

Seems like a ramshackle system for something affecting lives and vessel safety.

Appreciate the reply,
Jack
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Old 15-12-2014, 05:04   #39
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Thanks, Sssssailor,



Two radios (or even three) would help in monitoring, when I'm trying to reach a vessel on ch 13 and he's responding on 16. But I guess there's no good solution to knowing which channels to try first. I thought that was the purpose of 16.



Seems like a ramshackle system for something affecting lives and vessel safety.



Appreciate the reply,

Jack

I like to make sure too which channel I'm calling on. If you call on 13, say, "m/v whatever, this is Scrimshaw (my boat) channel one-three" or however you want to say it. Most passing arrangements on the ICW are probably on 13 or a local freq. I would try the local freq then work your way up to 16 as a last resort.


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Old 15-12-2014, 05:52   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Zarley View Post
Apparently some of you feel privileged to hold your course when in a collision course with another vessel. Do you have the same mindset when driving a car? Delaying your response to an eminent collision just because you are in the right (refer to colregs)? I don't care if it is a vessel with a happy new owner on the wrong side of the channel, I take evasive action early. Ditto when in open waters regardless of the tonnage. I value my wife and am not about to be chastised by her for scaring the be-jesus out of her, regardless of how macho I feel. So you can call me whimpy, but call me safe.
Here we go again.

At a certain stage in a crossing situation, one vessel is obligated, not privileged, to hold course and speed. It does not increase safety to just change course willy-nilly whenever you see a ship. Suggest you learn the Colregs and read up on collision avoidance procedures.
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Old 15-12-2014, 07:37   #41
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Here we go again.

At a certain stage in a crossing situation, one vessel is obligated, not privileged, to hold course and speed. It does not increase safety to just change course willy-nilly whenever you see a ship. Suggest you learn the Colregs and read up on collision avoidance procedures.
Yep, here we go again.

It's fine to know the COLREGS and follow them when practical but any one who expects a 1000 foot long cargo ship or tanker to slow down or change course to get out of the way of his/her silly little 40 foot sailboat is a self centered egotist who we will eventually read about in the newspapers.

You can be "right" but you could be "dead right". What have you proved then? It's easy for you to slow down or change course. Not so for that giant ship.

Sure there are "rules" but in the end, the biggest boat wins. Be smart, be safe. Live to sail tomorrow. Mark Zarley has the right mindset.
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Old 15-12-2014, 07:43   #42
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Originally Posted by Sssssailor View Post
I like to make sure too which channel I'm calling on. If you call on 13, say, "m/v whatever, this is Scrimshaw (my boat) channel one-three" or however you want to say it. Most passing arrangements on the ICW are probably on 13 or a local freq. I would try the local freq then work your way up to 16 as a last resort.


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In my experience on the AICW, passing arrangements between recreational boats are made on channel 16 (or not at all) and contact with commercial shipping is on channel 13.

As for bridges, cruising guides will tell you but from what I know, MD, VA and NC are channel 13 while SC, GA and FL are on channel 9. Go figure.
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Old 15-12-2014, 08:03   #43
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Originally Posted by Mark Zarley View Post
Apparently some of you feel privileged to hold your course when in a collision course with another vessel. Do you have the same mindset when driving a car? Delaying your response to an eminent collision just because you are in the right (refer to colregs)? I don't care if it is a vessel with a happy new owner on the wrong side of the channel, I take evasive action early. Ditto when in open waters regardless of the tonnage. I value my wife and am not about to be chastised by her for scaring the be-jesus out of her, regardless of how macho I feel. So you can call me whimpy, but call me safe.
I think you read this all wrong.

I can only assume you are talking about the scenario I wrote about and it is me you mean by "some of you". Believe me, I don't play macho games and am pretty dedicated to maintaining high standards of safety. My motivation in this discussion is about how to enhance safety, nothing else.

That situation was one that has happened quite a few times, i.e. a big ship has not maneuvered early resulting in a large late move by him or as in on other cases by a large move by me. The point is that if the stand on vessel takes avoiding action at just the wrong time it can be dangerous and has caused many collisions in the past with vessels turning into each other. So holding one's course as the stand on vessel is right thing to do until it isn't. There was no danger in the situation I described unless the ship turned at the same time. If the ship had not turned, I would have stopped my boat and there would have been over a mile of separation, even leaving it until he was 2.5nm away.

I have never smashed into a car that cut me up on the road and I won't do it on the sea either. That is not what it is about. The real question is if radio use can help improve safety and there have been interesting posts on that.
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Old 15-12-2014, 08:13   #44
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

My two cents for what it is worth.

First on radar reflectors we have or had 2 10cm plastismo on my upper spreaders. One of the 1st things i saw many years ago when we first started out was we were with another sailboat with one reflector and had good radar reflection from them but somewhere along the line we changed positions and their sail hid their radar reflector and at times they were not visable. We have had big boats tell us yes they see us on radar.

Second as above we have AIS and would not do what we do without it. We watch CPA when we have a boat coming at us. When we determine we will have to close a pass for our comfort we call them on channel 16 by name and never yet had one not respond to us. It sometimes takes a bit longer for some vs others but we have always gotten a response. We then work out a pass.

A couple of examples - we were coming toward Jamaica and sailing 42 degs to the wind in 15-20k of wind and a super tanker coming at us with a CPA of a few hundred feet at 0200. We called him at 9nm and he confirmed he saw us and there would be a close pass. I told him i was 42 deg to the wind but if he wanted i would start the engine and go into the wind - he paused and said maintain course and speed they would deivate 2 deg off wind and then said have a great sail.

Number 2 we were working toward a shipping lane and had a passenger ship 10nm behind him coming up and would be way to close to us so i called him and he asked us to turn 10 deg to port and he would turn 5 to starboard for a safe pass. Less than 30 minutes later i saw a freighter coming at us with a CPA of less than 100' so I called him and he responded and yes he saw us and requested we turn 15 deg to starboard at which time i told him i just turned to port at the request of named passenger ship so why don't you and passenger ship work it out and i will listen which i did and we all had a safe pass.

lastly we were crossing another shipping channel and again sailing close to the wind and had a freighter coming at us as we were approaching a shipping lane and called him. He responded that he saw us on AIS but could not alter course as there was an frieghter coming at him and we would have to alter course which we did and took a beating for a while we sailed/motored into the wind and short choppy sea.

In all the cases we have always used channel 16 successfully.

Having said that the fishing boats in the Med do not respond so we have to watch closely as they constantly change course and direction.
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Old 15-12-2014, 13:54   #45
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Re: Collision course, radio and procedures

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Yep, here we go again.

It's fine to know the COLREGS and follow them when practical but any one who expects a 1000 foot long cargo ship or tanker to slow down or change course to get out of the way of his/her silly little 40 foot sailboat is a self centered egotist who we will eventually read about in the newspapers.

You can be "right" but you could be "dead right". What have you proved then? It's easy for you to slow down or change course. Not so for that giant ship.

Sure there are "rules" but in the end, the biggest boat wins. Be smart, be safe. Live to sail tomorrow. Mark Zarley has the right mindset.
With apologies to everyone who has heard this lecture before (you can skip over it! )

It is a widespread, harmful, and dangerous myth that pleasure boaters don’t need to know anything about collision avoidance except to scurry out of the way when they see a ship.

That works well and is highly recommended in bays and harbors where the ships follow predictable paths through marked channels – just get out of the channel. But it doesn’t work at all in open water, and on the contrary can creat a great danger of a collision. For which you will be blamed because to treat collision avoidance like this is a violation of the rules.

Anyone who thinks that 1000 foot container ships don’t maneuver for sailboats needs to study the subject more. They certainly do, at least in open water where they can (and when they’re not in open water, other rules apply). They are required to follow the rules, and 95% do it scrupulously. You are also required to follow the rules – not just when you think it’s convenient. That includes standing-on when called for in the rules.
The problem is that commercial ships almost always make their moves 10 or more miles out, at a distance where pleasure boaters who don’t understand or practice correct collision avoidance don’t even know they are there. So when the pleasure boater wakes up and sees a big scary ship 5 or 6 miles off, and jerks the wheel over, it is much more likely than not that there was actually not a problem in the first place – the commercial ship maneuvered long ago and is set up to pass a mile ahead of you. So what you have just done with your “prudent” (not!) maneuver is to screw up the crossing which he calculated back at 10 or 12 miles off, and you have a 50/50 chance that you are actually maneuvering into his path. You can’t tell with your bare eyes whether you’re moving out of or into his path, if the CPA is less than a couple of miles!! What you have just done is to violate your obligation to hold your course and speed, which the commercial guy needs you to do in order for his maneuver to work.

If by four or five miles you are able to tell (not with your bare eyes!) that the crossing is still dangerous (CPA of less than a mile, for example) – that in fact the commercial has not made a move -- then the Rules give you the right to maneuver yourself. Not before “it is evident” that the give-way vessel has not maneuvered. In order to do so, however, you need to have the equipment and the skills to know whether he is passing ahead or behind, so that you know which way to turn. At a minimum you need a hand bearing compass, and you need to know how to use it. Radar will also work, but AIS is the killer app. Unfortunately, although AIS sets will tell you with great accuracy the speed, bearing, and distance of the ship, and what is your CPA and TCPA, most of them will not tell you whether the ship is passing ahead or behind. For this you need to keep up with the bearings over some period of time to see whether they are increasing or decreasing. If you don’t have this knowledge, you can’t maneuver safely.

As to being “dead right” etc. – it is a big mistake to confuse fulfilling your obligation at a certain stage in a crossing, to stand on, with a driver on the road insisting on his right of way. There’s no right of way at sea, and that is not what standing on is all about. Standing on gives the other vessel the chance, during a certain part of the crossing, to make the first move. If he doesn’t, then you get the right to maneuver yourself. And then at a certain point, you are obligated to maneuver yourself, even if you are the stand-on vessel. The Colregs do not permit anyone to stand on into danger – “insist on your right of way [sic]”.

The Colregs are not optional! You are obliged to follow them at all times, including standing-on when that is required! Commercial mariners do not want you maneuvering willy-nilly in ignorance or violation of the Colregs – they want you to follow the Colregs so that everyone knows what to expect from each other. Collision avoidance requires a great deal more knowledge and skill than just “I never insist on my right of way, so I don’t really need to know anything else”.

End of lecture.
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