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Old 23-06-2011, 07:23   #31
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It's not the 90% who have AIS that you have to 'watch out' for when you're offshore. I'll be out there and I currently have no plans for an AIS transceiver. As for the 'big boys' out there. Some radars might pick up rowboats in Penobscot Bay but I can guarantee you that when offshore, big ship radars don't generally pick up sailboats, with Reflectors even, offshore nearly as well as you might think or hope. It's customary to run on the 24 mile range while in a big ship offshore. As such, you pick up traffic about 18-24 miles out, depending on sea conditions usually (and the mate's ability to tune the radar periodically). Those targets are other big ships, now likely running AIS so tuning and radar watch is 'less' of a priority than it used to be (in practice, just sayin'). Sailboats seldom were picked up before 10 miles, usually around 8 miles and lost in the sea clutter or the sea clutter is dialed out from around 4 miles out! Exceptions may occur. Essentially the watch officer has to see you between 8 and 5 miles out on radar to know you're there. It's a small window of opportunity especially while back in the chart room plotting the hourly position and filling out the hourly wx/log book entry! Do NOT rely on being seen by the big guy.

I was one of them, I know and I kept a conciencious watch/lookout.
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Old 23-06-2011, 08:01   #32
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

Our ship being hastily repaired after ramming a barge in broad daylight in a shipping channel. Casualties: several SUVs and containers sunk; captain fired; ship soon retired.


(Ship Norwegian Dream, uh Nightmare)
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Old 23-06-2011, 08:52   #33
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
The AIS really reduces my stress level, because it separates the targets into problems and non-problems, then gives early and accurate information on the problem vessels. It also allows me to call the problem vessels by name if need be, which has raised their reply rate from near zero to near 100%.
That is why I use AIS. In the ICW barges are invisible until you are right on them, even on RADAR.

Life before AIS, drive along ICW keeping sharp lookout. coming up on S curves, call out general call on VHS giving mile marker number, or nearest bouy number. .......Wait for response....proceed around curve, woops a doublewide, no room to pass, emergency 180 and full throttle. Keep calling captain of barge, now you can call for a double wide, maybe he will answer? Find wide spot in channel, pull over, barge goes by, now you can see name painted on stern, Barge now answers call by name. Maybe warns you of others behind him. Repeat 2 or 10 times per day.

Life after AIS, look at AIS display see barges 20 miles away, with NAME, course, speed , and load. Look ahead on chart to see where good passing spots are. Call barges by name to coordinate speeds so you will meet in wide spots. They 100% answer by name. Adjust speed so you will not meet on curves. Repeat once, you can call all the barges you are likely to meet, and ask intentions. Look out for small boats that may not have AIS.

Offshore radar may be better use, but in clear visibility it generally can see no further than line of sight, same as your eyes.

AIS has reduced my stress level on ICW from high to low. Where I am the ICW has heavy commercial traffic with as many as 6 barges trying to pass each other at one time, without AIS you are like a blind man in a dodgeball game.
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Old 23-06-2011, 09:59   #34
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

I work in a very busy port and my rule of thumb is if I am not looking out on the water at least 3/4's of the time then I am too distracted by whatever it is I am looking at onboard and I need to adjust.

AIS is one more tool for the watch keepers bag and not a cure for anything.
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Old 23-06-2011, 12:33   #35
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

One might also heed a tip from page 16 of the Hewlett Packard Environmental, Health & Safety Handbook for Employees:
"Blink your eyelids periodically to lubricate your eyes."
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Old 23-06-2011, 14:37   #36
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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I work in a very busy port and my rule of thumb is if I am not looking out on the water at least 3/4's of the time then I am too distracted by whatever it is I am looking at onboard and I need to adjust.

AIS is one more tool for the watch keepers bag and not a cure for anything.
San Fransisco bay does not have narrow winding channels. The ICW is more like river traffic. You cannot see what is coming around the bend, which means the first indication of a large ship, maybe pulling a string of tows, is 20-30 yards. They cannot stop, usually cannot maneuver, usually take up the whole channel, especially on curves, sometimes lose control and run aground simotaneously on both sides of channel.

I still watch constantly, but the AIS see's things I can't.
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