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Old 18-09-2012, 04:10   #106
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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If by say 2 miles out, you are still on an intersecting course, then you need to make your own move. It should be one decisive move, and it should be a large enough course change that it is obvious to the other helmsman what you did. Tacking onto a reciprocal course is good (as long as you are 100% certain that the other vessel has not turned towards you!!!!); just heaving to to stay out of the way might be best of all. Do NOT call on the VHF if you are already two miles or less away -- it's already too late for chatter -- you will just waste time. Make a decisive move.

All this should be done before you are much less than 2 miles away -- one mile away is already close quarters and dangerous. If you find yourself on an intersecting course with a ship at less than one mile away, then you have screwed the pooch big time. Whether you were the stand-on or the give-way vessel already doesn't matter -- you screwed up if you end up that close. It should simply never happen.
Good post , but at 2 miles most ships have CPA rules less then that especially is TSS zones, so they will not act until you are closer.

In busy areas you will find it is not possible to cross and maintain 2+ miles separation. Areas like approaches to Gib, The channel around Dover, Lands end TSS etc. Crossing these can put you closer to large vessels than most sailors are comfortable with.

dave
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Old 18-09-2012, 04:25   #107
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

Bravo Dockhead. Second good post.

Most readers here either have never read the Colregs or didnt'*understand them, or read them so long ago they have forgotten.

In reality - you should never allow yourself to get in a situation where you are only a few cables lengths away from a collision. The only exception to this is fog (or very bad weather). And if it is foggy - you damn well better know and follow the Colregs - since everyone else out there in the soup will be
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Old 18-09-2012, 04:45   #108
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

Dockhead, a good analogy with driving a car verses being the master of a vessel as it pertains to the ColRegs. However, just a word of reason - not all commercial seamen are shining beacons of Seamanship & competence, although hopefully most are. Just as in any other profession, their are sub standard professional mariners, drunkards, incompetent & lacking in judgement or skills - the Italian cruise ship on the rocks is a recent high profile example. I have seen quite a few more.
And the reality is, due to competition and shipping companies wanting to cut costs, a lot of ocean going ships are undermanned or manned with cheap, under skilled third world crew. The other trap is the same trap that recreational cruisers have fallen into - relying on electronics to navigate, steer, warn of impending collision, etc. Proper Lookout by eyeball on an ocean going ship has been replaced with radar alarms, AIS alarms, etc. It is a foolish sailor who 'stands on' across the bow of a ship in open ocean..... and I know you are decidedly not advocating that.
I have been a professional skipper (prefer that to commercial) for quite a while and I have been teaching the ColRegs, Seamanship, sailing & power boating for many decades. I was also a Maritime Boating Officer for a number of years (sort of like US Coastguard) - involved in the investigation of many maritime incidents (including fatality & grievous bodily harm) - believe me when I say I have nearly seen it all.
You are quite right in your explanation of the concept of 'right of way' verses 'stand on' that many recreational boaters erroneously equate to driving a car. Which is why many maritime incident investigations end in a finding of partial responsibility by both Masters.....
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Old 18-09-2012, 04:51   #109
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Bravo Dockhead. Second good post.

Most readers here either have never read the Colregs or didnt'*understand them, or read them so long ago they have forgotten.

In reality - you should never allow yourself to get in a situation where you are only a few cables lengths away from a collision. The only exception to this is fog (or very bad weather). And if it is foggy - you damn well better know and follow the Colregs - since everyone else out there in the soup will be
given the very few rules ( not much more then avoiding certain turns) that exist in restricted visibility, knowledge of the COLREGS isnt neccessarily the first thing Id want, ( big F-off radar, and AIS TXer)

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Old 18-09-2012, 04:56   #110
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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And the reality is, due to competition and shipping companies wanting to cut costs, a lot of ocean going ships are undermanned or manned with cheap, under skilled third world crew. The other trap is the same trap that recreational cruisers have fallen into - relying on electronics to navigate, steer, warn of impending collision, etc. Proper Lookout by eyeball on an ocean going ship has been replaced with radar alarms, AIS alarms, etc. It is a foolish sailor who 'stands on' across the bow of a ship in open ocean..... and I know you are decidedly not advocating that.
+ surfergirl, especially the "it is a foolish sailor who 'stands on' across the bow of a ship in open ocean" as I teach in my classes, "dont stand-on into danger, whatever you believe the COLREGS say"

Most cruisers have experience of both extremely efficient well run ships bridges and also of ships that virtually ignore the presence of sailing vessels ( either deliberate or not seeing you).

In the presence of big ships, ( and there the ones that scare me) , I now do feel AIS transponders are a HUGE help. Ive seen large ships at night change course 10 miles away to avoid close quarters situations with me , a bit like the elephant and teh mouse, they are even more determined to stay out of the way of WAFIs !!

AIS on a small boat in my opinion is far better at telling others where I am ( and what I am) then for me to use as a collision warning ( the eyeball does that)


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Old 18-09-2012, 05:09   #111
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

Dave, Please note that I said you should never allow yourself to end up in a situation where a collision is imminent. If it is foggy, then you do need to understand that you should avoid certain turns. Would I like to have a big radar? ya betcha! AIS - ya betcha! Do all boats have these gadgets? ya betcha not!
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Old 18-09-2012, 05:19   #112
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Good post , but at 2 miles most ships have CPA rules less then that especially is TSS zones, so they will not act until you are closer.

In busy areas you will find it is not possible to cross and maintain 2+ miles separation. Areas like approaches to Gib, The channel around Dover, Lands end TSS etc. Crossing these can put you closer to large vessels than most sailors are comfortable with.

dave
Hi Dave:

Yes, you are exactly right. I was thinking of more open water situations than that. Thanks for the correction/addition.

One clarification: I did not mean to say that the separation should always be 2 miles. I meant that if the distance between you and the ship is less than 2 miles and you are still on an intersecting course, then that would be about the time I would stop standing on. In my experience in open water, large commercial vessels will usually make their move -- if they are the give-way vessel, and if of course they make a move at all -- about 4 or 5 miles out. At that distance, the course correction is small, the crossing situation disappears, and there is no drama. Provided of course that you are holding your own course and speed as you are supposed to!

I am personally comfortable passing one mile behind a commercial vessel when there's room -- I would be interested to know how you and others do it. At two miles out, I can still manage that without a drastic course correction, which is why two miles is about my limit for waiting for the ship to make its move. Sometimes crossing the non-TSS part of the English Channel, you have ships spaced out two miles apart. In that case, of course, you have no choice but to pass behind one ship closer than a mile, but as long as its behind its usually not too dramatic.

TSS zone is a special case which I didn't go into.

Another useful point to add is that you do need radar or AIS to accurately gauge these distances. It's fairly hard to judge distances of 4 or 5 miles by eyeball even in good visibility.

AIS is of course the killer app for this situation, and everything we have discussed becomes much easier if you have it. You have exact course and speed of the other vessel -- not just calculated or guessed -- and you instantly see a change of course without having to wait to take the next bearing. And they have yours. You both have an exact CPA. So it becomes much easier to calculate a safe crossing from a safe distance away.
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Old 18-09-2012, 05:26   #113
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Dockhead, a good analogy with driving a car verses being the master of a vessel as it pertains to the ColRegs. However, just a word of reason - not all commercial seamen are shining beacons of Seamanship & competence, although hopefully most are. Just as in any other profession, their are sub standard professional mariners, drunkards, incompetent & lacking in judgement or skills - the Italian cruise ship on the rocks is a recent high profile example. I have seen quite a few more.
And the reality is, due to competition and shipping companies wanting to cut costs, a lot of ocean going ships are undermanned or manned with cheap, under skilled third world crew. The other trap is the same trap that recreational cruisers have fallen into - relying on electronics to navigate, steer, warn of impending collision, etc. Proper Lookout by eyeball on an ocean going ship has been replaced with radar alarms, AIS alarms, etc. It is a foolish sailor who 'stands on' across the bow of a ship in open ocean..... and I know you are decidedly not advocating that.
I have been a professional skipper (prefer that to commercial) for quite a while and I have been teaching the ColRegs, Seamanship, sailing & power boating for many decades. I was also a Maritime Boating Officer for a number of years (sort of like US Coastguard) - involved in the investigation of many maritime incidents (including fatality & grievous bodily harm) - believe me when I say I have nearly seen it all.
You are quite right in your explanation of the concept of 'right of way' verses 'stand on' that many recreational boaters erroneously equate to driving a car. Which is why many maritime incident investigations end in a finding of partial responsibility by both Masters.....
Fully agree.

There are a few ships which maneuver erratically and don't keep a proper watch, and we are obligated to make our own moves to resolve an intersecting course in plenty of time if a give-way ship doesn't makes its move in time. I think we all agree about that.

But in my experience, 90% of large commercial vessels are well run and keep a sharp watch, and they do see you, at least if you are a mile or more off and not right under their bows. The problem in 90% of cases of close encounters between large commercial vessels and sailboats is the WAFI at the helm of the sailboat, unfortunately.
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Old 18-09-2012, 05:32   #114
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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I am personally comfortable passing one mile behind a commercial vessel when there's room -- I would be interested to know how you and others do it. At two miles out, I can still manage that without a drastic course correction, which is why two miles is about my limit for waiting for the ship to make its move. Sometimes crossing the non-TSS part of the English Channel, you have ships spaced out two miles apart. In that case, of course, you have no choice but to pass behind one ship closer than a mile, but as long as its behind its usually not too dramatic.

Yeah I agree, but as you say ships spaced two miles means you are crossing the bow of the ship a good bit closer then two miles.

I would say, that my experience is that , without AIS, ships leave it almost till you are upon them to react. Talking to the ships bridges, at night few can see you and in the day, I was told that junior bridge crew are reluctant to order an autopilot course change as often standing orders require a senior officer to be informed. They simply "expect" you to change course.

I was given a "thank you" re this recently when sailing in Biscay my path , was crossing the path of a car carrier bound for Bilboa. I altered course several miles away to pass well clear of his stern and was contacted and thanked over the VHF by a junior bridge crew who was glad not to have to inform the "old man".


Mind you after 30 years I now beleive sail boats have a magnetic attraction to ships, what are the odds that in a empty ocean the only visible ship is on a collision course. Yet it happens again and again.

Dave
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Old 18-09-2012, 05:47   #115
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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Yeah I agree, but as you say ships spaced two miles means you are crossing the bow of the ship a good bit closer then two miles.

I would say, that my experience is that , without AIS, ships leave it almost till you are upon them to react. Talking to the ships bridges, at night few can see you and in the day, I was told that junior bridge crew are reluctant to order an autopilot course change as often standing orders require a senior officer to be informed. They simply "expect" you to change course.

I was given a "thank you" re this recently when sailing in Biscay my path , was crossing the path of a car carrier bound for Bilboa. I altered course several miles away to pass well clear of his stern and was contacted and thanked over the VHF by a junior bridge crew who was glad not to have to inform the "old man".


Mind you after 30 years I now beleive sail boats have a magnetic attraction to ships, what are the odds that in a empty ocean the only visible ship is on a collision course. Yet it happens again and again.

Dave
I suppose they behave differently in the English Channel -- busiest shipping lanes in the world -- than they do in a big open space like Biscay. The bridge doesn't ask anyone about changing course because they're doing it constantly.

Another moral of your story and another good tip for the beginners here is that avoiding a crossing situation with a large commercial vessel is that the further ahead you do it, the less dramatic it is. For that of course you really have to be able to detect the intersecting course from a far enough distance -- a good radar with MARPA and/or proficiency with the HBC, or AIS.

I am always happy to oblige if the ship prefers me to make the course alteration, as in your case, but as we have been discussing, it's important not to preempt his move, if he intends to make one.
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Old 18-09-2012, 06:00   #116
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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The problem in 90% of cases of close encounters between large commercial vessels and sailboats is the WAFI at the helm of the sailboat, unfortunately.

Absolutely. It is the unfortunate by product of the 'sailing dream' that we all share on this forum. I hate bureaucratic meddling and over regulation as much as the next man but in most countries around the world, there is no requirement to have any training or licensing to skipper recreationally a 40ft, 10 tonne keel boat and point it out to sea. Of course, most prudent people who understand their mortality and understand that safe = fun, will gain their experience slowly, progress to keel boats from dinghys, read a lot of good sailing books, join a yacht club, crew with friends, take a competent crew, navigation and/or inshore skipper course, etc - before slipping the dock lines and pointing the bow towards Jamaica.....

BUT, there is no requirement to do those things! And therefore you have a situation where there are many sail boats (and power boats) with people at the helm who are gooses.

Now, since I was a lad I read all the books and got carried away with the sailing dream of freedom and adventure and being the Master of your own universe in far away lands, just as I suspect a large majority of CF members have too - And I still have that dream And I like that sailing recreationally doesn't have too much over regulation....

But I wish a lot more keel boat sailors would learn, read, attend a professional course or have a competent friend teach them, etc AND keep striving for that beautiful skill set, knowledge, history and folklore of the sea & competence that is called Seamanship!

Because Seamanship is what will let you realise your dream of sailing free!!!
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Old 18-09-2012, 06:14   #117
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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I was given a "thank you" re this recently when sailing in Biscay my path , was crossing the path of a car carrier bound for Bilboa. I altered course several miles away to pass well clear of his stern and was contacted and thanked over the VHF by a junior bridge crew who was glad not to have to inform the "old man".

Dave

Dave, that is very nice to hear and gives me faith. That polite & courteous 'junior bridge crew' will be a Captain one day......
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Old 18-09-2012, 06:18   #118
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

I sail in Denmark. The area between Helsingborg and Helsingeor is narrow and has (at latest count) 3 separate ferry lines crossing, with ships going both ways. Additionally a lot of heavy traffic entering the Baltic comes through here and lastly innumerable pleasure boats, going in all directions.

We often have to cross between large ships that have less than 2 miles between them. If you clearly and as early a possible indicate your intentions to the ships, you don't have any problems. Note the clearly and early.
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Old 18-09-2012, 06:23   #119
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Re: Freighters vs. sailboats

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I suppose they behave differently in the English Channel -- busiest shipping lanes in the world -- than they do in a big open space like Biscay. The bridge doesn't ask anyone about changing course because they're doing it constantly.

Yes, the English Channel is definitely a different ball game. Many years ago, my girlfriend & I left Hythe Marina in our 24ft sloop for the 24 hour crossing to Le Havre. We weren't lonely during the night....

The 180 locks we traversed between Le Havre and Sete to get to the Med was a fantastic experience and totally free back then but that's another story.....
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Old 18-09-2012, 06:51   #120
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Re: ROW vs. Stand On

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........When you have the right of way, it means that you can drive with impunity, It Does? and the responsibility is 100% on other vehicles without the right of way to avoid you. You are getting way too literal. The Stand-on vessel doesn't have to do anything. He just maintains course and speed. To me that is the right of way. The Give Way vessel shall alter course whether in a passing or crossing situation. He is yielding. A rose by any other name. Tony B
So if you are rolling down the highway The you are not required to keep an eye on every car standing at a stop sign waiting to drive into the highway. What ?Of course the principle of defensive driving means you should always have one eye open in case someone pulls out in front of you, in case you might somehow swerve and avoid him, but in reality if you are making 100 km/h down the highway there is almost nothing you can do -- it is really up to the other guy not to pull out in front of you. That is right of way. So, if we apply this to boats you are saying that in reality if you are making 30 kts down the channel or in a straight path in the open, there is almost nothing you can do -- it is really up to the give Way not to pull out in front of you. That is right of way?

Being the stand-on vessel is really very different. You don't have any "right of way" at sea -- that means, you have no right to just proceed with impunity and just expect give-way vessels to be 100% responsible for getting out of your way, as they would if they were cars and on land. I think you are inventing a situation that I never implied. I never stated that the Stand On vessel can travel with impunity.

That is because the Colregs are different from traffic rules on land -- both helmsmen are always responsible for avoiding a collision. Being the stand-on vessel means you are supposed to hold your course and speed at first to give the other helmsman a chance to work out a maneuver and make the first move. But since we are not talking about right of way, what happens next is different -- if the other helmsman does not or cannot execute a maneuver which resolves the situation, then you must maneuver yourself. And if you don't do it -- then you are also at fault.
So, in cars, you are saying it is different because I can cream without responsibility of using my brakes or veering away because I have the right of way? Also In a car I can drive willy nilly all over the road? Dude, you need to go back to driving school.

You have no right to just start maneuvering willy-nilly if you are the stand-on vessel -- you screw up what the other helmsman is doing. By "willy-nilly", I mean however you feel like manuevering, without regard to the Colregs, in a way which the ship helmsman cannot predict. You talk
about responsibility, where are you coming up with this? Where have I said this?
Some people are recommending this, They are?, I must have missed that. and I am obligated to say that this is wrong, unseamanlike, and dangerous. "Just ignore the Colregs and get the hell out of the way" is poor seamanship and contrary to the rules, and the kind of behavior which this attitude engenders is why commercial seaman call us "WAFIs". That is the classical WAFI attitude. I guess a typical scenario would be like this:

"Oh, Joe, did you see that big ship right there?" "Oh f*ck! Where did he come from! Turn! Turn!" "I am turning!" "No! No! Turn the other way! The other way! Quick! No, no! Turn harder!" "Oh hell, he's turning too!" Crunch.

It occurs to me that one gap between the WAFI faction here and those arguing for the importance of the rules, is that these two groups are thinking about entirely different distances. The Colregs faction is talking about what you do 4 and 5 miles out; the WAFI faction is talking about one or two cables -- entirely different situations. Maybe it would be worthwhile to put the whole discussion into the context of our tactics in general to avoid other traffic.

Let's start with one question: Do you have a hand-bearing compass in your cockpit at all times, and do you know how to use it to determine whether you are on a dangerous intersecting course with another vessel from a safe distance away? If you don't, then you are a menace if you sail anywhere you might have to share the ocean with big ships. It means that you won't even notice you have a potential problem until it's too late to do anything seamanlike to solve it.

Avoiding ships typically starts 5 or 6 miles out. Large commercial vessels travel at different speeds, but 20 knots is not uncommon. 5 miles is 15 minutes at that speed; 2 miles is 6 minutes. The vector created by your own boat's motion may reduce this amount of time. In open water, large commercial vessels will see you 90% or more of the time (you do have a radar reflector, don't you?), and the guys on the bridge will start calculating the crossing situation about 5 or 6 miles out. They will typically use a system called ARPA, which will automatically calculate a CPA using their radar data. And they WILL maneuver if they are the give-way vessel. You will make their lives a lot easier if you will hold still and let them do their jobs. At 5 or 6 miles out, it's not any big deal for them -- it might be a course correction of just a few degrees to pass safely behind you.

Most WAFIs never even know this is happening, because they don't pay attention to ships that far away, never know they are on a dangerous intersecting course, and never know that the ship has made a subtle course correction to resolve the situation. They just bob along in blissful ignorance -- and provided they happen to be the stand-on vessel AND if they don't make any unexpected manuevers, then that's ok, I guess -- in any case, it's better than if they start turning this way and that, making it impossible for the commercial seaman to calculate a safe course.

What you should be doing, if you want to graduate to non-WAFI status, is the same thing the commercial seamen are doing -- calculating the encounter from a safe distance away, using your hand bearing compass, and figuring out who is give-way and who is stand-on, and what the appropriate maneuver should be. If you are the give-way vessel, then you should initiate a course change by 3 or 4 miles out, preferably to take you safely behind the other vessel (passing ahead is not good unless you have a much larger margin of error -- preferably more than a mile).

If you are the stand-on vessel, you should hold your course and speed as you are REQUIRED to do by the Colregs, and give the other guy a chance to make the first move. Meanwhile, you are taking bearings every two or three minutes in order to verify that the other guy actually did initiate a course change. If by say 2 miles out, you are still on an intersecting course, then you need to make your own move. It should be one decisive move, and it should be a large enough course change that it is obvious to the other helmsman what you did. Tacking onto a reciprocal course is good (as long as you are 100% certain that the other vessel has not turned towards you!!!!); just heaving to to stay out of the way might be best of all. Do NOT call on the VHF if you are already two miles or less away -- it's already too late for chatter -- you will just waste time. Make a decisive move.

All this should be done before you are much less than 2 miles away -- one mile away is already close quarters and dangerous. If you find yourself on an intersecting course with a ship at less than one mile away, then you have screwed the pooch big time. Whether you were the stand-on or the give-way vessel already doesn't matter -- you screwed up if you end up that close. It should simply never happen.

I'm afraid that our anti-Colregs faction here are thinking about encounters at two or three cables distance. And so in such cases, they are actually right -- it's already too late for seamanlike manuevers and time to save your a$$ however you can. By this distance you can forget being the stand-on vessel, because a large commercial vessel cannot stop or turn fast enough to do anything at such a distance. And if because of some idiotic sailing by some WAFI a large commercial vessel finds itself on an intersecting course with a sailboat at two or three cables away, it WILL hold its speed and course -- exactly to allow the sailboat to use its greater maneuverability to resolve the situation, since the large commercial vessel already can't do anything about it at all, and by this distance may not even be able to see the WAFI.

So maybe like this we can bridge the gap a little -- once you are a couple of cables away from a commercial ship on an intersecting course, then forget about being the stand-on vessel. You have already long since screwed the pooch, and you need to get away however you can. I think that is what some of the anti-Colregs faction were trying to say, and they are right -- to this extent.

But dealing with ship encounters properly starts far earlier than that. And requires a lot more knowledge and technique than just one rule like "Screw the Colregs! Just get the hell out of the way!".


It's a shame we don't have more commercial seamen on here. I know a few, and their complaint about us WAFIs is always the same -- that we don't know the rules, and that we manuever erratically and unpredictably. They avoid other ships and boats all the time -- it's what they do on the bridge day in and day out. If we would only follow the rules, maneuver predictably, the way we are supposed to, and hold still when we are supposed to so that they can work out their own maneuvers, we will make their lives much easier, and ours much safer.
I was a commercial seaman, I had a USCG 100 Ton Masters. I know what I am doing. I also know that you are fabricating an arguement based on what I did not say nor imply. You have no idea what the difference is between staying clear and maneuvering willy-nilly is. You also have no idea when COLREGS applies. A very slight change in heading well in advance can preclude any need for even exchanging passing/crossing information. Do you radio a ship 5 miles away in the open sea, that you are going to pass him on one whistle when the 2 boats pass each other a mile apart?

You are creating an anti COLREGS faction in your own mind.
Show me the quotes where I infer having impunity, where I steer a vessel willy-nilly, am anti-COLREGS and any of your other accusations. I have many posts in this thread. Look them up and feel free to cut and past and explain each one. 3-2-1 GO!
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