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Old 21-04-2013, 22:28   #1
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Sleeping While at Sea

This arrived in my email from Three Sheets Northwest

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The Coast Guard is warning local boaters to be aware that entire crews of other vessels operating in Washington and Oregon waters might be illegally sleeping.

The International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) require that all vessels operating in ocean waters must maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing at all times. Relying on radar alone is not permissible.

But the Coast Guard says some vessel operators in the Northwest, including commercial fishers, will work all day and then drift at night in open water while the crew sleeps.

“This practice is dangerous and a violation of basic seamanship law,” Dan Hardin, the 13th District’s commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator, said in a release.

The Coast Guard reminds mariners that vessel captains are responsible for maintaining adequate watch-keeping and manning. Violating the rule can result in fines of up to $6,500.
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Old 21-04-2013, 22:59   #2
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
This arrived in my email from Three Sheets Northwest

Seems to me that would be particularly dangerous in the NW, with large pieces of flotsam starting to appear on the North American coasts from that awful Japanese tsunamai.
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Old 21-04-2013, 23:14   #3
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

During the sector of a fairly recent trip around NZ's Sth Island where we sailed down the West Coast to Fiordland from Farewell Spit, we only saw two vessels.

One we nearly hit, which is the point of this post; but I recall now that the other was a voyaging yacht out of the UK, off Port Jackson, and also at night. He also thought we were going to hit him.

Rather annoyingly, he radioed us up to say he was shorthanded and could we please gybe inshore to avoid him.

I say annoyingly, because there was no prospect of us approaching closer than 1nm, let alone colliding (we were the stand-on boat). In any case, it was not blowing so hard that we could not easily have sailed around such a small target, even if we did turn out to be on a collision course. We felt sorry for him though, we could hear his wife and little girls in the background, and they sounded "all in".

I was predicting a windshift which would put us hard on the wind the next day, and every mile offshore was precious, to be able to lay through to Milford Sound where we were bound.

That pointless gybe, as I feared, ended up costing us an extra six hours of sailing hard on, in the nasty little chop pictured.

But getting back to the first vessel: it was a small fishing boat, lying to anchor (presumably a chute) fifteen miles offshore in the middle of the pitch-dark night, showing only a tiny anchor light

It was barely above five minutes from when we spotted that light to when we would have run them down. (That's how small the boat was) There were no signs of cabin lights, presumably all asleep on board. I'm not pointing the finger here; when I'm singlehanding the boot's often on the other foot, but it does give me a 'funny feeling in my water' when such things happen.

In my first ocean passage we had two on watch at all times, hand steering and paying close attention (relatively light schedule, with twelve watchkeepers), for four thousand miles across the Southern Ocean and Sth Pacific. Once out of coastal waters, we saw only one ship in the twenty days the passage took. Here again, we would have collided - assuming they didn't see us. We didn't see them until only a few miles distant, because they were hidden behind the mainsail !

(A Korea longliner (fishing boat/small ship), a thousand miles from any land)
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Old 21-04-2013, 23:24   #4
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

WARNING

Other boats may bump into you!

Being on the water depending on other people to be as smart and clever as you are is dangerous to your lives.

Hundreds of lives have been lost when entire crews have gone below.

As a singlehandler I've lost count of the times I've come upon crewed boats with an empty cockpit.
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Old 21-04-2013, 23:28   #5
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

It has been SOP in the west coast tuna fishermen, you leave what they call the drift lights on and go to sleep ! not the best thing to do but when your 100 to 1000 miles offshore, and your boats lit up like a ballfield, it's real seldom they get hit ! Never heard of the Costies giveing out tickets for it ! at least that Ive heard of ! And the radios always on with the squelch turned way up and someone would answer the radio when someone hails them !
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Old 21-04-2013, 23:28   #6
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

[QUOTE=Andrew Troup;1216536]During the sector of a fairly recent trip around NZ's Sth Island where we sailed down the West Coast to Fiordland from Farewell Spit, we only saw two vessels.

One we nearly hit, which is the point of this post; but I recall now that the other was a voyaging yacht out of the UK, off Port Jackson, and also at night. He also thought we were going to hit him. ... (cut for space)

I have a friend who often does long, single-handed trip. He was coming back from the Panhandle to Tampa area, at night, using his windvane. He would doze for 20 minutes, using a timer.

Well, either the timer didn't go off or he slept through it. He woke up because a wind shift woke him up ... and found himself sailing, at about 6kt, through a shrimping fleet.

Oops.
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Old 21-04-2013, 23:53   #7
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

Personally I have no problem with short-handed crew drifting and getting some sleep in open water.
Shure, they are legally underway but if you cannot tell the difference between a boat drifting and one that is making way, when you are within 2 miles….. you need more practice.

With the exception of special vessels or circumstances....I just ask that normal vessels leave their running lights on so I can confirm and monitor their aspect, as the CPA approaches.

Much rather they get some sleep and be alert for when they start making way at 10 knots.
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Old 22-04-2013, 00:37   #8
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

Hi, all,

Our experience over the last 25 yrs. or so of cruising is that occasionally one encounters other vessels, unlit, and for me, it's scary. But they're out there, and therefore, if there are two aboard, one has to be on watch.

Andrew, it sounds as if the guys who wanted you to miss them were at least keeping watch, even if their lights were insufficiently bright. [They hailed you.] I'm a little surprised you didn't just explain your plan to give them a mile's berth, and let 'em know you were watching out for them! They don't get to tell you how to sail your boat. It was extremely obliging of you to gybe to give them more room. But you sounded annoyed to me, like how you handled it wasn't entirely to your liking.....

Really, it's pretty easy to avoid lit-up drifters at night. The ones I worry about are the unlit ones who are moving through the water, so hard to see sometimes. Even encountered an unlit ship once, who turned its lights on and sounded a klaxon, AFTER i changed course to avoid it. Strange.

FWIW.
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Old 22-04-2013, 01:05   #9
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

Years ago I was one of those tuna fishers that BobConnie mentions. Typically each vessel had two onboard (capt and mate). While drifting at night we would be "within" the fleet of five to thirty vessels. As each vessel would drift slightly different we would allow about 2 nm between vessels. The radios were set to high volume and very easy to break squelch. The radar alarm was set to 2 nm. Throughout the night someone would always be awake. That is, there was coordination amongst the vessels that at least one person is watching for the other nearby vessels. Typically, a couple of crew would be on one radio for an hours-long chat while the other VHF was reserved for more important communications. Also, the masthead light was a brilliant strobe.

Due to the nature of fish to school, it was beneficial to all vessels to have other vessels in the vicinity to attract the fish. Therefore, it was usual and typical to conduct fishing operations in a fleet no matter where on the oceans.


My stint in the tuna fishery included not just coastal waters but all of the north Pacific.

As for improper lighting, a tug and tow off Pt Conception with several small lights ( as in 25W, dull glow) almost resulted in a collision. The tow was so low in the water that we only saw the one radar signature of the tug. And he wasn't responding to numerous hailings. His slow speed was the clue that something wasn't right.
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Old 22-04-2013, 01:14   #10
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

I hate to say it - but this sure sounds like the USCG is trying to raise some revenue. First $26 for renewing vessel documentation and now $6,500 tickets for working vessels drifting at night. Seeing how this has been a common practice for decades, it just seem a bit strange that they should pick now to start making a fuss.

Also, I seem to remember a court case when a cargo vessel hit a fishing vessel in traffic lanes while it was drifting at night. As I recall, the cargo vessel was found to be at fault because it was common practice fishing vessel to drift at night in this area.

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Old 22-04-2013, 01:21   #11
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

I think the USCG is making hay of a typical scenario. The most harrowing run-ins I've experienced were with very large commercial vessels like car carriers, cruise ships, etc. A super tanker popped over the horizon one fine day. I plotted his RB all along and was assured our crossing would be no less than 6 nm off our stbd. About that time he calls to request a port to port crossing, if I like. With incredulity I asked him to say again. Yes, I heard him correctly so we discussed his turn radius. He would have to be hard over to come anywhere near us so I just could not fathom why he wanted to change solutions when so near in. Anyway, he kept his course for an uneventful crossing. Even at 6 nm that thing was BIG!

Then there was the freighter who crossed to 4 nm directly upwind off us and came to stop. He was drifting down on us rapidly as he hailed to ask which way to San Francisco. As were were barely 24 nm off the beach in the vicinity of Monterey, he called us "vessel to my port side" even though we were clearly to his stbd, and he spoken in very broken Engrish, we ignored him. I have tried to communicate with some of those guys and the result is miscommunication at best and a headache. He drifted within 2 nm and we were out of there.
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Old 22-04-2013, 05:01   #12
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We were sailing past Brisbane one night with a large container ship coming out of the channel into open ocean.

Saw him on Ais and that was it.

Called him on Vhf and let him know his lights were not on, under the control of the pilot as well.

Amazing such a massive ship with no nav lights as they forgot when they left port
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Old 22-04-2013, 05:24   #13
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Hi, all,

Andrew, it sounds as if the guys who wanted you to miss them were at least keeping watch, even if their lights were insufficiently bright. [They hailed you.] I'm a little surprised you didn't just explain your plan to give them a mile's berth, and let 'em know you were watching out for them! They don't get to tell you how to sail your boat. It was extremely obliging of you to gybe to give them more room. But you sounded annoyed to me, like how you handled it wasn't entirely to your liking.....

FWIW.
Anne: the guy sounded so demoralised, it was blowing a solid 30 knots, and for all we knew he was making a difficult landfall after a hard trip across the Tasman.... so we tried to put ourselves in his place.

It became annoying next day when our worst fears were realised (or mine, anyway - the other guy was the skipper, so it was his call, and he hadn't felt as strongly as me that we needed the searoom...)

BTW: the boat with the weak light was the other, very small, fishing boat, not this long-distance yachtsman... They DEFINITELY didn't hail us, or see us. We passed so close we could almost hear them snoring.
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Old 22-04-2013, 06:05   #14
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

Not just sleeping....last summer I passed through a fishing fleet. Once left behind I went to a 30 minute scan and below to do something. Bright clear day.

Just before the 30 min timer goes off I hears something, and pop up to exchange waves with a scalloper. I had heard the hauling back on their gear through the steel hull.

I watched them reced, at about 25 minutes they were so small as to be easily missed. So much for my 30 minute watch.
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Old 22-04-2013, 06:13   #15
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

as our presidunce has decided the uscg doesnt need the same amount of money they got in years gone by, they are prolly tying to gain back the monies they will miss desperately.
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