I know that feeling: A few years ago we were transiting the Corinth Canal in Greece
- 70' wide with 200'+ canal walls - in a 27' yacht, when a tug-boat that'd arrived late, got irritated at our inability to do barely more than the 5 knot
minimum speed; he 'bounced' us on his bow wave four or five times and when this finally slewed us toward the side, he muscled past and roared away; there was deal of shouting (In Greek) coming over the VHF radio
throughout the incident too - from two transmitting stations?
We reached the canal office's dock
at the eastern end about a 45 minutes later, suffering nothing more than a couple of scratches to the hull
, a gouge in the keel
and some soiled underwear. When I went ashore to pay our transit fees
there, I was surprised to meet the tug's Captain
on the dock
- I thought he'd be long gone by then? - who gave me a heap of abuse (I assume? It was all Greek to me) and looked like getting physically violent too, until one of the canal officials intervened and sent him on his way; what had I done wrong?
Inside the office whilst paying our fees
, the officer there spoke fluent English
, so I enquired as to what, if anything I'd done wrong, why was he p1ssed at me? His response was "Not your fault, he's just having a very bad morning." He went on to explain that the tug had paid to make a transit from east to west to pick-up a contracted tow there, but because he was an hour late in arriving, that ship had given the job to a competitor. This meant he now had to pay for another 'empty' transit back to pick-up his next contracted tow at the east end. He was then frustrated that our slow progress might making him late for that job too, so he'd overtaken us.
When I assured the officer that we'd definitely been keeping above the 5kt minimum speed he said: "I know, we were tracking you on the CCTV system and have recorded the whole incident; if he'd stayed behind you as we repeatedly instructed him to over the radio
, he would have picked-up his tow with plenty of time for the next westward convoy. But now, he has lost
that tow too, because we called him into the office here to reprimand him for his behaviour. It is illegal in the canal to encroach on vessels ahead of you, he didn't drop back when we radioed him, for this the fine is €1000, when he then overtook you, that was more illegal and the fine will be €6000; he must pay these before the end of the month, or is banned from the canal.
I never discovered whether the guy had to pay both fines, or just the second/larger one, but the Officer was right, it'd turned into a bad morning for that skipper