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Old 22-06-2011, 08:32   #1
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On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

Yesterday the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) held a hearing in which the results of a long investigation were presented. The incident in question took place last year near Philadelphia, involving an amphibious duck carrying passengers being run down by a tug pushing a barge. Two persons died in the incident.

The investigators came down VERY hard on the tug's Mate who was on watch at the time of the collision (the Captain was asleep below). The mate had spent a long time on his cell phone on several calls and, at the time of the incident, was apparently below on a computer connected to the Internet. He failed to respond to frantic VHF calls from the Duck which was broken down and anchored in the channel.

The Duck was not without fault: they had failed to do several things they might have done.

Bottom line: be very wary of distractions when you're on watch, especially from the variety of electronic gadgets now normally carried onboard. If it ain't directly related to and necessary for the safe navigation of your vessel, you could be held liable in the event of an accident.

Bill
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Old 22-06-2011, 08:51   #2
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

It is also irresponsible to be below deck while anchored in a channel with passengers onboard, meaning the Coast Guards definition of a passenger, which is someone who is paying to be onboard.

Passenger and other commercial vessels are also required to maintain a proper radio watch.
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Old 22-06-2011, 08:53   #3
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

David,

I'm not sure what you mean by this. It's pretty hard to be "below deck" in a Duck....I don't know that the crew wasn't alert and "on deck"; they made several emergency VHF calls to the oncoming tug/barge.

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Old 22-06-2011, 09:00   #4
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Yesterday the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) held a hearing in which the results of a long investigation were presented. The incident in question took place last year near Philadelphia, involving an amphibious duck carrying passengers being run down by a tug pushing a barge. Two persons died in the incident.

The investigators came down VERY hard on the tug's Mate who was on watch at the time of the collision (the Captain was asleep below). The mate had spent a long time on his cell phone on several calls and, at the time of the incident, was apparently below on a computer connected to the Internet. He failed to respond to frantic VHF calls from the Duck which was broken down and anchored in the channel.

The Duck was not without fault: they had failed to do several things they might have done.

Bottom line: be very wary of distractions when you're on watch, especially from the variety of electronic gadgets now normally carried onboard. If it ain't directly related to and necessary for the safe navigation of your vessel, you could be held liable in the event of an accident.

Bill
You said "asleep below" so I was wondering the same thing thinking there might be a little place somewhere on one of those boats. I have been on one once but don't remember exactly how they are laid out.
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Old 22-06-2011, 09:07   #5
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

i think operative word should be BELOW DECK while on watch--somehow that does not compute in an inland watrway...... how can ye be ON WATCH and BELOW DECK simultaneously-- doesnt copy. especially when preoccupied for more than just making coffee.....LOL... i think the cell fone is a distraction for making more anti fone laws. fone from in cockpit-- puter from in cockpit--LOL--always keep an eye open especially in inland waterways. geeez. COMMON SENSE-- where did it go.
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Old 22-06-2011, 09:12   #6
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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Originally Posted by David M View Post
You said "asleep below" so I was wondering the same thing thinking there might be a little place somewhere on one of those boats. I have been on one once but don't remember exactly how they are laid out.
Captain of the TUG was asleep below not the captain of the Duck with passengers, if I'm reading correctly
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Old 22-06-2011, 09:14   #7
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

Correct. I thought that's what I said.

Bill
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Old 22-06-2011, 11:58   #8
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Bottom line: be very wary of distractions when you're on watch, especially from the variety of electronic gadgets now normally carried onboard.
Bill,
Good advice for all.....I couldn't agree more.....

I feel like I should preface the next part with the disclaimer: "Professional Driver on Closed Course.....Don't try this at home"....

I wish to confess that over my many years of sailing/voyaging, I have occassionally done somethings on watch that weren't 100% essential to veseel operation/safety.....

I truly enjoy sailing at night, and love long night watches......and sometimes I've combined some ham radio operation into a long night watch.....BUT...but, I've got both mic and headphone extension cables from my M-802 rigged up, allowing me to be in the cockpit / at the helm / on watch at all times, and I can use the up/down buttons on the Icom mic to qsy thru the band (say 75m) and listen 'til I find someone to talk with, or a clear spot to call CQ on.....
This is NOT something I do all the time, nor do I recommend it to others as it takes discipline to do it without sacraficing safety.....
But, I am confessing to doing something
on watch that wasn't 100% essential to vessel operation / safety.....

Okay, I'm done confessing.....


BTW, I do recall reading a few years back that someone was below on their SSB, waiting for their turn to talk to Herb on 12.359mhz, when they were rundown by a freighter.....
They survived, but lost their boat.....all for lack of a cockpit speaker or pair of headphones..... (Makes 'ya think???)


John
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Old 22-06-2011, 12:14   #9
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

IMO being on watch means WATCHING!
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Old 22-06-2011, 12:28   #10
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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IMO being on watch means WATCHING!

I agree, if you can't watch, you need to inform next watch, especially if within 100 miles of coast, or shipping channel.

The tug ran over the duck, because no one was at the helm in a busy channel.

A few years ago a freighter collided with a fishing vessel in broad daylight in clear conditions within 1 mile of a channel entrance, because no one was on the bridge in either vessel.
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Old 22-06-2011, 13:31   #11
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

The NTSB Chairwoman, Debora Hersman, and her staff warned that this problem of distraction is an epidemic, not only on boats but on other forms of transportation, including airplanes, cars, trucks, trains, etc.

And, she said, it's only likely to get worse (as the electronic gadgets proliferate).

BTW, my own personal bugaboo is AIS. Used by a skilled and experienced navigator it can be a help. However, all too often it's merely a compelling but unnecessary distraction from the duties of a watch keeper. And, it sure as hell will spoil your night vision. IMO.

A change in the culture is needed, the NTSB said, just as was true with DUI, seat belts, etc.

NTSB blames distracted operators in Ride the Ducks accident | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/22/2011

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Old 22-06-2011, 15:19   #12
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

That's why I like my cordless headphones for the SSB.

I don't know why Bill is so down on AIS. My Vesper watchmate has the lighting down low enough to preserve night vision, and I sleep much better off watch knowing that its external alarm will wake the entire boat with plenty of time to avoid being run down by a ship. I sometimes turn the thing off in crowded harbors, but that's also the time that I'm keeping a fulltime watch (and not texting or playing solitaire).
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Old 22-06-2011, 16:30   #13
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

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.......
I don't know why Bill is so down on AIS. My Vesper watchmate has the lighting down low enough to preserve night vision, and I sleep much better off watch knowing that its external alarm will wake the entire boat with plenty of time to avoid being run down by a ship....... .
Two reasons, Don:

1. AIS represents only a fraction of the things which can run you down or which you can hit; it is not synoptic. Near shore, it's a tiny fraction, because most of the yachts, fishing boats, buoys, floating debris, etc. don't have AIS transmitters. Even offshore there are lots of things which don't have AIS. There is a tendency to believe that if it isn't reflected on the AIS screen, it doesn't exist.

W R O N G!

2. It's far too easy for an inexperienced navigator to become mesmerized and fascinated by the information which can be called up on AIS. Wow, there's the Maersk Voyager enroute from London to Sydney, making 16 knots on a course of 175M, etc., etc. All the while you're exploring all this great (and most of it irrelevant) information, you're NOT concentrating on the other things which can hit you and which you can hit...those NOT showing up on AIS.

Yes, I know. In the right hands AIS is fun and can be an additional navigational aid. But, in the spirit of the NTSC statements, it can be a DISTRACTION from what you ought to be doing.

You gotta pay attention to the factors noted above.

JMO,

Bill
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Old 22-06-2011, 16:41   #14
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Two reasons, Don:

1. AIS represents only a fraction of the things which can run you down or which you can hit; it is not synoptic. Near shore, it's a tiny fraction, because most of the yachts, fishing boats, buoys, floating debris, etc. don't have AIS transmitters. Even offshore there are lots of things which don't have AIS. There is a tendency to believe that if it isn't reflected on the AIS screen, it doesn't exist.

W R O N G!

2. It's far too easy for an inexperienced navigator to become mesmerized and fascinated by the information which can be called up on AIS. Wow, there's the Maersk Voyager enroute from London to Sydney, making 16 knots on a course of 175M, etc., etc. All the while you're exploring all this great (and most of it irrelevant) information, you're NOT concentrating on the other things which can hit you and which you can hit...those NOT showing up on AIS.

Yes, I know. In the right hands AIS is fun and can be an additional navigational aid. But, in the spirit of the NTSC statements, it can be a DISTRACTION from what you ought to be doing.

You gotta pay attention to the factors noted above.

JMO,

Bill
100% agree with this. AIS is not perfect. Lots and lots of things out there not on AIS. To be honest I really don't see the need for AIS. I've been sailing for 35 years and been in some very high traffic areas and never had a problem avoiding collisions using nothing more than my eyeballs.
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Old 22-06-2011, 16:51   #15
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Re: On Watch: Stay Off the Cell Phone & Computer

I'm with Bill on this one. Too many voyagers have too much going on in the cockpit or at the navigation station, especially at night. I see boats sailing along where the people in the cockpit are brightly illuminated by all the gadgetry supposedly showing them everything they need to see. It leads to things like my friends nearly getting run down by a cruise ship well north of the San Blas Islands at night. The cruise ship saw me (after I called them and alerted them to my location) and was talking to me and we discussed how we were going to pass each other, but they didn't see my friends on a cat coming up fast behind me, and my friends were down below doing something and not watching and the cruise ship turned to avoid me but nearly ran them down until I told them to watch out for the cat coming along too. I suspect that the folks on the bridge of the cruise ship couldn't see a darn thing, despite the crystal clear conditions, and they were relying solely on radar, which for some reason wasn't picking up the cat in the rough conditions. This was compounded by the folks on the cat either not paying attention or not being able to see anything because they routinely sailed at night with all sorts of lighted stuff on in the cockpit. I go so far as to turn off all lights on the boat at night if the horizon is completely black and I am well away from land. My night vision is much better this way, and someone on watch on my boat is supposed to be "on watch." It takes a long time for your night vision to return after looking at a bright navigation screen for a few moments.
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