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Old 20-09-2012, 10:37   #256
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

I'm still having trouble with this concept of changing course in a slow arc. COLREGS rule 8(b) states: "Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided."

It becomes all the more apparent that some of the arguments being made on this thread are being made by persons unfamiliar with the rules.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:08   #257
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Back to the main thread

@ Tony & sloopygirl

I half agree with you, there are many times that you don't have to get close in open water and yet there are times when getting close has distinct advantages. Let me relate two different real life events......

The point being that the CRs were followed to the letter (by us), we did not put ourselves into danger and we did not lose any real ground to our lee.

So it it horses for courses, the main thing is to be sure one has a good seaman-like reason for any action one takes when sharing the water with others.
Great post.
I agree with all of your above actions.

The radio plan did not work, the main CR plan did not work, so you ended up with the CR alternate plan which says, more or less do what you gotta do and you did. Some would say that the CR worked because you used the plan to change your course and speed when everything else fails. Here is a matter of interpretation. Technically, the CR worked because you took action to avoid the collision. In reality, my loose interpretation is that the CR failed. Taking a non-specified evasive action to avoid a collision any way you can, is not exactly what I call a written plan. Some will surely debate that. Thats like going into combat and the CO says "we are going to take that hill. The battle plan is 'dont get shot'." So for those that lived, that plan worked great. For those that didn't, they screwed up because they got shot and that was not the plan.


Some of the disagreement on here stems from what and when COLREGS kicks in. If I am going to cross the path of a freighter and estimate that I will cross the point of intersection 5 minutes before the freighter does, to me, COLREGS dont kick in because there is no chance of collision at that time separation. I am just crossing his bow. At what point CR kicks in is when the possibility of a collision exists. That will always be an on an individual basis, because each vessel's course and speed will be different from time to time. This makes me an Anti-CR person in some eyes. CR does not specifically state the use of a VHF for passing/crossing signals in open seas, again, that makes me a rebel.

I am not implying in that CR does not work. It does - just not 100% of the time. Refer to Wotnames post. In a sailboat, your options may be limited as compared to a power boat so you have to have the "What if?" attitude at all times.

Let the "Literal" people fire away.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:20   #258
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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I'm still having trouble with this concept of changing course in a slow arc. COLREGS rule 8(b) states: "Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided."
The arc will be almost inperceptable unless you were really measuring it. Without prior radio communications and agreement by both parties, it would appear that I was continuing on a collision course, that is how imperceptable the arc is.

It becomes all the more apparent that some of the arguments being made on this thread are being made by persons unfamiliar with the rules.
I guess you think radio communications are totally valueless. In the real world, bridge to bridge agreements will supercede any other rules.
I operate by COLREGS and radio.
You operate by COLREGS and telepathy.
Anyway, there is no point in discussing this with a very literal person, so this will be my last reply to you.
Have a great day.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:21   #259
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
I'm still having trouble with this concept of changing course in a slow arc. COLREGS rule 8(b) states: "Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided."

It becomes all the more apparent that some of the arguments being made on this thread are being made by persons unfamiliar with the rules.


I translate rule 8(b) into "Do it BIG, do it EARLY!"
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:25   #260
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

Tony

Colregs do not kick in.

They and the national modifications are in force at all times.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:27   #261
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

@ Tony B

In have no intention to accelerate a dispute, but leave it to the common sense of the sailor to use or not to use the vhf set if a situation becomes unclear.

And yes, it happens often that the called up ship does not reply because a watchman - if any - is on the bridge who does not manage the English language. Examples enough of the latter.

But a clear discouragement to use the vhf set is unwise, if not stupid. I understand that some people have inbuilt fear to speak in the mike because they lack experience and are afraid to show that. Or, they do not really know how to execute a proper approach and/or procedure.

The other side of the story is that very few commercial vessels keep a serious watch, save for the approaches where a pilot is obligatory.
In the open sea, in the middle of the pool, I doubt if there is any one on the bridge.

Viewing the stories of some serious accidents, collisions, you see what the very origin of the accident was. No watch or look out. Drunk captain and the lot.

So no hanky panky with large carriers, I stay out of their way as much as I can. And if in doubt, I call.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:28   #262
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

In the open ocean the rules are slightly different than inland, (the reason for the colregs line on the charts).

In open ocean collisions, and risk of collision is rare. IN most cases a watch with long range radar may have already altered course by the time you are even aware he is there. The afore mentioned conditions, IE. Constrained by draft are not there, and at 5 miles out he is just as maneuverable as a sailboat.

In that case standing on unless you are unable to raise the bridge, and have closed several miles with no apparent action by the freighter makes sense.

The acrimony in this "discussion" results from weekend sailers, (often new), asking, "how big a ship can I safely impede by tacking in front of his bow?".

The fact that there ARE sailers that practice this collision excercise on every weekend on a crowded narrow channel bounded by spoil shoals, makes this pertinent point.

The principle of COLREGS that the more maneuverable ship must give way to less maneuverable ships is because, simply a more maneuverable vessel can force a collision that the less maneuverable vessel cannot avoid.

Blithly tacking to and fro across a busy shipping channel will get you a personal meeting with the coast guard, no matter how many rules you quote.

In the middle of the ocean or large bay, you can drive your vessel, (sail, or power), in giant circles if you like, and no one will care.

The problems come when kayakers, hobie cats, midsized sloops, motor yachts, and bayrunners, and tugs, and freighters, are all trying to clear the same 100ft channel, at various directions, and speeds. Most major channels have a deep center, and barge shelfs 10-20ft wide, and 8-10ft deep on each side, outside the markers.

When I don't have a need for the draft the barge shelfs are adequate for my navigation needs. The freighters will never enter this area as they need depths of 20ft or more. I don't need COLREGS to know that my ship is safer in this area.

There is another thread about whether tacking upwind constitutes a "course change" under COLREGS. YES! any time your compass needle moves you just changed course, whatever your reason for doing so, (wind, current, channel bend, broke rudder, etc...).

It would be safer for all if in a crowded channel, if slower ships stayed to starboard, all ships passed to the stern of larger ships, (even if it's only a foot longer). And slower ships gave way to faster ones. It would result in less lost paint, less swearing, and fewer near misses.

Why do you want to impede a faster/larger boat? Once it has completed it's passing it is no longer a threat to the safety of your vessel.

One single large turn early in a crossing situation, is not willy nilly, and specified by the COLREGS.

I've found all comercial vessels I have called answered promptly when hailed by name. Most if I specified exact coordinates, and vessel description.

I would listen to TonyB. He has been at the helm of all three classes in this discussion, (sail, power, commercial), that gives him somewhat of a unique view of all sides of this discussion.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:33   #263
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

OK, I'm ready to report on my conversation with about 10 oceangoing commercial ship captains on these topics. I learned a hell of a lot of new things.

1. On the subject of VHF usage -- as we have been discussing, the MCA (a very important, very authoritative national shipping authority in the UK) discourage the use of VHF in collision avoidance. That is because they don't want chatter to be a substitute for systematic following of the Colregs -- if everyone knows the Colregs and does what he is supposed to, there is no need to chatter and no need to get into the risks of distraction, misunderstanding, misidentification which that engenders.

Now our captains categorically and unanimously disagree! They do want us to strictly follow the Colregs, stand on when we are supposed to, etc. But they really don't want us to be shy about using the radio, and they damn well want us to have the radio switched on. They want us to follow radio procedure and use brief, extremely to the point messages, but they would like to know our intentions and are glad to agree what everyone is going to do, especially if it involves a change of course on our part. "Don't be shy to use the VHF", was said.


2. An absolutely astonishing thing I learned was that they think in vastly longer distances and time horizons than we do -- there is a total disconnect between us. They manage crossings using ARPA and powerful radar and they have worked out and executed their course changes sometimes 20 or even 30 miles out, which is long before we ever know they exist.

So there is something of a paradox -- they want us to know the Colregs by heart and live by them. That was said over and over and over again by the captains I talked to. Yet since the Colregs kick in only when a vessel has sight of another and a risk of collision exists, we will often not, in open water, even have a chance to apply them. So even if we are the give-way vessel, they will usually not have waited for us to figure out what is going on, and they will have maneuvered themselves, long before we even know there's traffic.

My own manuevering horizon is two miles -- I will calculate my maneuvers to stay at all times at least two miles away from a commercial vessel. Two miles is the point at which I start maneuvering and switch over to giving-way if I am the stand-on vessel, if we are on 0-CPA courses, and the commercial vessel has still not altered course. This may not be enough as I now understand. Two miles is nothing for them -- too late already to really do anything. Thirty minutes TCPA is a critical point for them in many situations. 30 minutes!

3. We have not discussed the big difference in speeds between our vessels and theirs. This actually plays a very big role in managing crossing situations. In a crossing situation with a fast ship travelling at 20+ knots, it seems, there is nothing we can do once TCPA is less than about 30 minutes. If we are not visible to them in such a situation, we are simply road kill -- nothing we can do. Hope our insurance is paid up.

4. I got conflicting advice (even from the same guys in the same post!) about strictly following the Colregs versus using common sense and keeping clear. I guess they somehow want us to do both. But they definitely do NOT want us screwing up their calculated CPA and TCPA by changing course erratically -- which includes too little too late manuevers -- and too late may be several miles off. They need a steady course and speed from us in order to manage the situation -- no manuevers from us in close quarters unless they are demanded by Colregs and/or the situation, and then only a clear and obvious manuever which they can see and react to. Interestingly, one guy complained about our tacking -- how hard it makes for them to calculate a crossing.

5. THE paramount issue in a crossing situation is the ability to identify a collision risk -- and of course keeping a good lookout so that this ability can be put to use. The "I" in WAFI comes from (a) ignorance of the Colregs; and (b) inability to use a radar and/or HBC to identify a collision risk at a safe distance. They implore us to take radar courses -- they say you can't learn it on your own [I confess that I learned on my own]. Radar, as I understood, is THE tool for dealing with crossing situation, for them. But they say situational awareness -- which they complained many times we lack -- is even more than being a competent radar operator -- we should be using stanchions as transits and using our eyeballs to guess at collision risks all the time.

6. They do make allowances, assume we are idiots prone to making unexpected manuevers, and generally try to steer to give us a wide berth. However, they remind us that a certain percentage of commercial vessels do not keep proper watches, and might even willfully ignore a sailing vessel.

7. All this above concerns open waters. In channels, they say assume they are like a freight train incapable of any kind of avoiding action and just keep well out of the way [note -- this is exactly what the Colregs require anyway]. "Give us room", they said. They complained many times that we use narrow deep water channels and crete problems for them there is plenty of depth for our draft outside the channels. They are concerned that many of us don't know the Colreg about vessels constrained by draft and navigating in a narrow channel.

8. They complain that many of us do not have transmitting AIS [I confess that I do not to this day! But installing this winter.] They are astonished that we would not invest $1000 in this and yet still venture out to sea where we can encounter ships, to get run down like roadkill because they can't see us. They consider this an essential tool and as I understand they rely on it heavily.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:43   #264
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

One P.S. --

One captain recommended the maneuver which Tony was talking about.

He said that at a certain point if you are still on a 0 CPA then you should step away from the radar set and simply aim the bow of your boat at the stern of the ship, and keep it aimed there -- noting that we will be changing course in an arc during this time.

A simple, safe manuever to pass behind another vessel without having to do any kind of calculations -- something which won't overload our pea-sized WAFI brains, I guess.

Sounds like a good tip.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:48   #265
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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@ Tony B
.....And yes, it happens often that the called up ship does not reply because a watchman - if any - is on the bridge who does not manage the English language.....
Quite true, and if that be the case, then obviously all of the usual COLREGS will apply. Tony B

The other side of the story is that very few commercial vessels keep a serious watch, save for the approaches where a pilot is obligatory.
In the open sea, in the middle of the pool, I doubt if there is any one on the bridge.
Unfortunate, but true

Viewing the stories of some serious accidents, collisions, you see what the very origin of the accident was. No watch or look out. Drunk captain and the lot.

So no hanky panky with large carriers, I stay out of their way as much as I can. And if in doubt, I call.
Be careful, this whole cluster-F started because I mentioned staying clear and then evolved into a crossing the stern arguement.
Thanks for the input.
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:58   #266
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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OK, I'm ready to report on my conversation with about 10 oceangoing commercial ship captains on these topics. I learned a hell of a lot of new things.......
Great post, really good the hear from "the other side".

Pretty much tallys up with a lot of this thread. Use the col regs! Always!

AIS was interesting, Anything else about lights?
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:14   #267
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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But a clear , if not stupid discouragement to use the vhf set is unwise.........


......
The other side of the story is that very few commercial vessels keep a serious watch, save for the approaches where a pilot is obligatory.
In the open sea, in the middle of the pool, I doubt if there is any one on the bridge.
Couple bits.. Not sure where the "clear discouragement to use the vhf set is unwise" came from, the MCA report looked at a lot of accident data and came up with "Although the use of VHF radio may be justified on occasion as a collision avoidance aid, the provisions of the Collision Regulations should remain uppermost". Use the col regs, not the radio.

The "serious watch" is quite hard to get a good handle on, as mentioned elsewhere, a month at sea you might go a week without seeing anything so data is sparse. But in my limited experience across the Atlantic the ships I came across appeared to be run very professionally. Many times on AIS I would see them alter course 5 miles or so away to give me more sea room, on the few occasions when i radioed up to say thanks and speak with another human being they gave the impression of being very aware of what was going on. They'd have me on radar from a long way off.

It would be interesting to hear others experience of this, offshore. it's heartening out there to think that they know what they're doing
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:19   #268
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Thanks Capt Bill and Dockhead

I feel vindicated.
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:24   #269
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

What they mean by knowing how to use the radar is to understand rapid radar plotting and using it. I have to get my radar endorsement on my unlimited license renewed once every five years and rapid radar plotting of two contacts is what is required.

One way a yacht could do this without having ARPA or MARPA or without having to learn the entire technique would be to plot the ships position on the radar screen with a grease pencil once per minute for a few minutes. You must do this on the same course if you your radar is on the heads up setting. North up and it does not matter. This gives you a relative motion line which will give you a rough idea of the ships CPA at your current course and speed. This is not the entire technique but it does let you know just how close that ship is going to get at yours and their current course and speed.

I agree that once close that there is nothing a sailboat going 5 knots can do to create a minimum CPA versus what a ship going 20 knots can do. (no solution with a rapid radar plot) The best thing you can do is to get them to acknowledge that they see you and don't keep changing course/speed which could result in confusion.
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:32   #270
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

And therefore the vhf communication ........
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