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View Poll Results: On average, when you are more than 200 miles out. How often do you see other vessels?
Rarely 8 32.00%
Oonce a week 4 16.00%
Maybe twice a week 4 16.00%
almost daily 9 36.00%
Voters: 25. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-04-2008, 06:12   #1
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ARE YOU ALONE OUT THERE

Hey all,
I am new to the forum and new to the cruising idea, but am on board 100%. House for sale bussiness for sale, looking for the right boat. Target date of June 2010.
I read an article in Adventure Magazine about cruising. A coulpe had sailed 8,000 miles and they wrote this:

"This is one of the great shocks of offshore passagemaking. You assume that when you get 2,000, or even 200 miles from land that it will be just you and mother ocean. Then the sun goes down and you see the horizon dotted with lights. In 8,000 miles of sailing we had two nights (one in the middle of the atlantic and one off Honduras) during which we didn't see a single ship."

I don't know how long it took them to sail 8,000 miles, but only two nights without seeing another vessel. Is this sound right?

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 09-04-2008, 08:37   #2
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I have not experienced it, but I find this hard to believe.
I think line of sight do to the curve of the earth would be about 20 miles.
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Old 09-04-2008, 09:09   #3
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Twenty NM to the horizon would be for a height of 300 feet above the water. Your distance to the horizon increases with your height above the water. Here is a table for it: http://www.vinduemaritime.com/bowditch/T-12.pdf

Multiple contacts every night is common on a ship...even hundreds of miles away from any land. This is because ships are scanning more square miles every 24 hours because of their speed, better radars and higher radars than the typical yacht radar. Some contacts don't even have lights and you pass them having no idea what it was.

I would add one more category to the poll: Multiple times per 24 hours.
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Old 09-04-2008, 09:21   #4
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That has more to do with where you are than how far offshore you are. If you sail within the standard shipping lanes you will see vessels on a regular basis but if you sail in areas that are seldom used by commercial vessels you will never see one or will see one very, very seldom. So this will make the determination before anything else.
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Old 09-04-2008, 09:55   #5
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I am sticking with my estimate of a maximum line of sight being about 20 miles. (frome the top of my mast to the light on the top of his mast). We are both on the tops of large swells at moment of sight.
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:02   #6
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Old 09-04-2008, 13:03   #7
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As far as lights, it depends on where you are cruising. We saw only two ships down to French Polynesia and back to Hawaii. One was while crossing the Orient to Panama ship route. Ship was hull down and we only saw the mast lights. The second was on the way back to Hawaii. Passed a factory fish processing ship within a 100 yards who had no running lights, just deck lights on. It was at dawn and we saw no sign that anyone was awake on the boat. Later had a fishing boat go by on the way to the factory ship, we presumed.

With all the transAt traffic it may be hard to get any solitude. The Pacific is a big ocean with very specific ship routing that usually doesn't coincide with the sailing routes. So other than coastal voyaging, the ocean is largely empty.

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Old 09-04-2008, 14:26   #8
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The distance to the visible horizon can be calculated (range):

D = 0.97 x √Hf
-or- D = 1.76 x √Hm
Where:
D = Distance in Nautical Miles
√Hf = Square root of Height of eye in Feet
√Hm = Square root of Height of Eye in meters.

The distance an elevated object (ship) can be seen is the sum of the range for each of your eye height, and the ship's height (D1 + D2)
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Old 09-04-2008, 18:17   #9
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Thanls for responding. At first I thought it would be crazy to think you would wee someone that often. But then I got to thinking, if you can see 20 miles to port and 20 miles to starboard and you sail 100 miles in a night. You have been able to view 4000 square miles. Its not to hard to imagine that here is at least one boat in any given 4000 square mile area.

O well something to think about.
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Old 09-04-2008, 19:03   #10
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Ready to go too

I would say one per day would be a good average if you took all the passages and averaged them. (that would be one of each possible reasonable passage that would take you 200 miles from land, that would be thousands of passages, worldwide)

Ready to go, I would have sent you a mail direct but you didn't have contact info, I've got a boat ready to go, not sure what your looking for, but asking this question it might be a fit. It's a good bluewater boat, I was planning on using it to cross the Atlantic, until I found my dream boat. Two boats is one too many, and I've just gotten done fixing it up so it is Ready To Go also. It's a 38 foot Hughes, you can see pics on my website. It's even priced to Go too. After I sell it then I am ready to go too.
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Old 09-04-2008, 19:13   #11
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I think part of the resaon for seeing so many boats is the advent of GPS. So many sailors seem to sail a rhumbline nowadays regardless of distance, weather patterns etc that the bearings between the popular cruising destinations seem to have become highways. A friend who does charter deliveries to Fiji said the planes from NZ to Fiji flew directly overhead every day and they were hardly ever out of VHF contact with another boat. Turn off the plotter, pick up the sextant and save overcrowding our oceans.
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Old 09-04-2008, 19:26   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrntlzrdking View Post
I am sticking with my estimate of a maximum line of sight being about 20 miles. (frome the top of my mast to the light on the top of his mast). We are both on the tops of large swells at moment of sight.
You then need to calculate his distance to the horizon and then calculate your distance to the horizon and then ADD the two distances. That would be the distance from mast top to mast top, just barely being able to see over the horizon...in perfect visibility of course which of course occurs only on rare occasion.
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Old 09-04-2008, 19:29   #13
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Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
I think part of the resaon for seeing so many boats is the advent of GPS. So many sailors seem to sail a rhumbline nowadays regardless of distance, weather patterns etc that the bearings between the popular cruising destinations seem to have become highways. A friend who does charter deliveries to Fiji said the planes from NZ to Fiji flew directly overhead every day and they were hardly ever out of VHF contact with another boat. Turn off the plotter, pick up the sextant and save overcrowding our oceans.
Or just do an intentional 20 NM XTE....that sounds like a smart thing to anyways.
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Old 09-04-2008, 19:37   #14
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Or just do an intentional 20 NM XTE....that sounds like a smart thing to anyways.
My sextant doesn't have an XTE function.
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Old 09-04-2008, 20:32   #15
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During our circumnavigation, it was extremely common to see ships while on passage, but you do have to look for them or you will miss seeing them in the haze.

When we did the 3000 plus miles between Galapagos and the Marquesas, we were out in the big empty, and we still saw ships. One night we saw six ships that were part of some fishing fleet most likely.

Even when you sail outside the shipping lanes, you still have to consider ships engaged in fishing that pop up when you least expect them.

We knew people who slept 8 hours at night and never saw a ship when sailing to the Marquesas Islands. We always had someone on watch, and we saw at least six ships on the same trip.

One of our friends was run down by a ship on the trip from Galapagos to the Marquesas, but fortunately his yacht did not sink.

For the majority of our voyage, we saw ships on most days when we sailed offshore.
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