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Old 23-11-2014, 17:16   #16
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Originally Posted by Michael Ramos View Post
If I observe a vessel in the distance with no identifying insignia or too far off to see any identification info… what is the appropriate procedure for hailing on the VHF? Thanks in advance.

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Old 23-11-2014, 20:07   #17
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Heavy fog and no radar can definitely make for some pucker moments.

Keep in mind that even with Radar at close quarters, a ship’s ARPA plotting feature can often start to do crazy things if the watchkeeper is not on top of adjusting radar return settings for lower ranges…

What happens then is the return signal starts to bounce off of different parts of the target (you) and the processor gets confused as to your heading and speed of target. This is the most common cause of what is called ARPA assisted collisions.

A good practice if you have made voice contact in heavy Fog, is to take that opportunity to ask what side they intend to pass…

Then VERIFY by saying: I confirm, I will stay on YOUR (Port/Stbd) side.
Yeah, once I made contact, the ship was extremely courteous and helpful. In this case, they were stopped (it was a dredge) and I was simply headed straight for them, so the negotiation was straightforward. I turned substantially, confirmed my position and course with them, and we went around them without further drama. That photo was taken well after the initial contact. We literally couldn't see any trace of them when they first started blowing their horn at us.

I had intentionally stayed only about a mile off the beach to keep out of the normal shipping lanes, but hadn't counted on a dredge. They warned us that there were other dredges working about the same distance off the shore, so we bounced out another mile or two and didn't have any more run-ins the rest of the way.

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Old 24-11-2014, 05:45   #18
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Originally Posted by gfh View Post
Yeah, once I made contact, the ship was extremely courteous and helpful. In this case, they were stopped ...
That can be quite confusing. Some years ago, not far from Mallorca I was sailing at night and saw a big cruiser ship with all lights on...I was heading to it and it does not seem to be on a collision course, it looked to me I was seeing the side of the boat and it should move away. But in fact it didn't move away and I remained on a collision course. I contacted them and they were just stopped at the middle of nowhere wasting time to arrive in the morning to port.

They were very nice, put on the engines and moved away from my course.
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Old 24-11-2014, 06:41   #19
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Sailing across the (English) Channel a few years ago, I got pissed off having to duck the endless stream of heavies 3 abreast at 3 in the morning. So I took advantage of the AIS receiver and asked a 'small' tanker if he wished me to cross on his bow or stern (I was the stand-on vessel, FWIW)
After a looooong silence, the OOW muttered, "we pass port, sir, PORT", and he must have swung his ship 50°...
I felt like adding 'ta, sweet dreams', but I refrained, as they have a much harder life than me and I must have been already too close for its radar to catch me...
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Old 26-11-2014, 17:19   #20
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

I sailed with an ex-WWII destroyer commander who seemed to know what he was doing. When calling unidentifiable vessels on the radio at sea, the protocol was to hail: "Tanker" (or whatever type of vessel it was, if we could determine it)"bearing xxx degrees True, "Tanker bearing xxx degrees True, this is the yacht yyyyy ". Then we'd add details like the distance we thought we were, and if we were off his port beam, bow, or whatever, tell him what we wanted him to know about our heading and speed, and ask him if how he was planning to pass us and if we could do anything to make that easier for him.

The 'Old Man' said that using a True compass bearing makes it easier for a ship to find you because they use gyrocompasses, not magnetic ones. Telling him where to look in relation to his hull also helps him find you. Advising him your intentions right off gives him an idea of what you might do - sailboats are known to do screwy things as far as ship's officers are concerned. Asking him how he expects to deal with the crossing subtly hints that he already has a plan, and so obviously has competent officers on watch who were already aware of you. (Maybe!) We spoke this way with tankers, research vessels and ferries on our transatlantic trip to Europe.

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