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Old 23-11-2014, 11:36   #1
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Hailing an unknown vessel

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, 11:45   #2
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Location and anything else you can see.

type, color, lat/ long, south of, etc

Sail / Motor vessel at XXX YYY location this is ________.
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Old 23-11-2014, 11:52   #3
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Fit AIS. Ducks for cover!
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Old 23-11-2014, 11:59   #4
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Glenn.225 is correct. If you are offshore and you can estimate their course then that can help. Definitely position. If you are close to land, for example, "calling the north bound sailing/motor vessel 3 miles off Pt such and such".


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Old 23-11-2014, 12:11   #5
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

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Originally Posted by sestina View Post
Fit AIS. Ducks for cover!
Yes, that would work if you both HAD it.
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Old 23-11-2014, 13:13   #6
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

My observation is that this seldom brings a response... can be frustrating!

If you are talking about another yacht, they may well not even have their VHF turned on. If it is a merchant ship, the watchstander may not speak English well enough to follow your message, if it is a fishing vessel, the crew may well be on deck working.

One of the joys of having even an AIS receiver is actually getting a response from hailing by name.

Cheers,

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Old 23-11-2014, 13:25   #7
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

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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.
Unless you can identify their name from your AIS, most of the commercial ships will not answer you. I don't call them unless it is emergency and need their assistance or the latest weather forecast. I don't bother them and stay away from them.

If I must contact them, I don't use GPS coordinates. I will say something like that: West bound Tanker, 200 nm east of Norfolk. This is East bound SV xxxx, we are 5 nm on your port bow.
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Old 23-11-2014, 14:27   #8
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Without a boat name my experience is much the same. You almost never get a reply.

However, it is quite common to observe a course correction by the vessel shortly after the transmission, so I think it does make an impression. It is worth making it clear that you are are a sailing boat.

This is the sailing vessel ......
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Old 23-11-2014, 14:41   #9
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

In Asia, many vessels don't have working AIS for a variety of reasons and most local boats don't respond to calls in English

If it is a developing multilateral traffic concern in confined waters that would be simplified if they were allowed to maintain course.. At night I would make call with simple location details and if no response or indications of intent after 5 minutes.... try again with a wake up searchlight (not aimed directly at their bridge).

Then follow the Rules for collision avoidance.. making your intentions very apparent.
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Old 23-11-2014, 14:56   #10
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

When we did our boat delivery, which was the first time we'd ever sailed in the ocean, we were in intense fog. Just as we started to get used to the get used to very different motion of the waves out there, a horn sounded. It wasn't like a little canned air horn...it was a deep, thunderous ship's horn, it was very close, and we couldn't see anything.

No AIS, no radar, and pretty much shipping my pants, I picked up the VHF and uttered some horribly convoluted sentence like, "vessel blowing your horn at a sailboat off of Sandy Hook, this is that sailboat."

Whatever it was, it worked, and we figured out how to get around them. Not saying that that's the best way to handle it, but it was reassuring to know that if I said enough words, they'd figure it out.


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Old 23-11-2014, 15:40   #11
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

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Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
Unless you can identify their name from your AIS, most of the commercial ships will not answer you. I don't call them unless it is emergency and need their assistance or the latest weather forecast. I don't bother them and stay away from them.

If I must contact them, I don't use GPS coordinates. I will say something like that: West bound Tanker, 200 nm east of Norfolk. This is East bound SV xxxx, we are 5 nm on your port bow.
On the med there is a lot of traffic and when I have doubts about a collision course I contact the ships. I contact only when the distance is less than a mile and they are obviously seeing me....or maybe not and then there is a possible dangerous situation . I don't do that many times, this year only one time in 2500nm but I always got an answer, some times in a strange English. Last time it was" I see you"

Maybe the fact that is my wife that speaks on the radio may help in what regards a nice and positive answer.

The call is something like that: Sailingboat Alma at the Starboard side (or portside) of cargo ship (Ferry, container, cruiser) bound to.... (or on the west side of x Island or near somewhere) on a collision course, are you seeing me?

Obviously if he is seeing me he sees that I am sailing.
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Old 23-11-2014, 15:42   #12
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

We decided to anchor at Memory Rock on the Little Bahama Bank one evening to have a sit down dinner before crossing to Fort Pierce FL. It was already dark. There was a sailboat anchored about a quarter mile away - showing an anchor light - but it was too dark to read his name. So I just called on 16 "sailboat anchored at Memory Rock, One Step" and repeated it. He came back quickly and we traded weather reports.

Fortunately he was one of the few who kept his VHF on 16 all the time, something we learned the hard way years ago.
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Old 23-11-2014, 16:30   #13
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Most watchkeepers on merchant ships speak adequate english, maybe not as you know it but english nevertheless. Its a requirement for gaining their qualifications. What can make life simpler is sticking with the standard maritime vocabulary.

What you should never do is repeat something in a different form..i.e. 'this is yacht wombat 5 points on your port bow, I repeat, this is the boat up ahead on your left'...you would be surprised how often you hear stuff like that - and from people who should know better.

Back on track... inshore ? Give the approx position of the ship ' Ship 5 miles west of Cabo Blanco' followed by your relative position ' about 2 miles on your port bow'.
Deep sea she will probably be the only ship within vhf range so just your relative position should work.

Back when I would hear a call like that I would, assuming I hadn't already seen the yacht, have a look in the general direction the yacht had suggested and respond if I saw something.

When you do make contact make sure you are actually talking to the ship you can see.... leads to fun times when someone makes arrangements with a third party.
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Old 23-11-2014, 17:35   #14
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

To the OP,

One long blast= "I am moving." You will hear that in fog.
One short blast means, "I am directing my course to starboard."

Google on ship audio signals for more.

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Old 23-11-2014, 18:12   #15
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Re: Hailing an unknown vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by gfh View Post
When we did our boat delivery, which was the first time we'd ever sailed in the ocean, we were in intense fog. Just as we started to get used to the get used to very different motion of the waves out there, a horn sounded. It wasn't like a little canned air horn...it was a deep, thunderous ship's horn, it was very close, and we couldn't see anything.

No AIS, no radar, and pretty much shipping my pants, I picked up the VHF and uttered some horribly convoluted sentence like, "vessel blowing your horn at a sailboat off of Sandy Hook, this is that sailboat."

Whatever it was, it worked, and we figured out how to get around them. Not saying that that's the best way to handle it, but it was reassuring to know that if I said enough words, they'd figure it out.


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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.
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