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Old 24-09-2008, 23:59   #1
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Pilotage Paradox !

On the AIS thread… David M linked us to a good article about a ship hitting the San Fran Bay Bridge.

Inside that link was an article about working with Pilots; San Francisco | gCaptain.com


While it is mostly for the big commercial guys, there is a good lesson to be learned for even small yachts whenever you have a local pilot on board or even when you and your crew are planning a tricky approach to an entrance.

That is to review and share your plan ahead of time so that more than one person is aware of the planned track and can check to see if the guy in charge, is on top of it.

Remember,… Pilot’s advice, Captain’s orders! …so even if the Pilot screws up, the Captain is still to blame and is liable

Teamwork! (Insist on it)

Something to keep in mind if you ever find yourself needing a pilot.

PS…. I have used the Brisbane Pilots and they are the best I have ever experienced at going over the planned track before starting the route.

The positive changes happened right after the Pilotage Authority went private and the phased out all the government appointed pilots.
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Old 25-09-2008, 08:26   #2
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I was sailing on S.F. Bay during a weekday. A Maersk container ship was coming in the Gate. We were the only boat beside the container on the bay that I could see. The containers usually take the southside of Alcatraz, and then go on their merry way.

This container took the north side, and was headed directly for Angel Island. I swore he was going to drive straight up on the shoreline. What seemed like the last second the boat turned hard to strbrd with a dramatic list, and now headed straight for me.

I fired up the Atomic bomb, and headed straight for the backside of Alcatraz perpindicular to his course. The next day when I arrived to work I called Maersk, and got nothing but complete denial of the incident. After seeing this I was always much more cautious around the freighters. Like everybody else pilots are human too.
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Old 25-09-2008, 11:05   #3
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Imagine,
From your description, the pilot was doing what is normal for getting a container ship to the Port of Oakland.

The outbound lane, the one North of Alcatraz is the deeper of the inbound and outbound lanes. Therefore deeper draft vessels that are inbound sometimes take the outbound lane because of this. The Maersk ship was probably drawing a lot of water or there was a another ship in the inbound lane and the pilots agreed to do it this way.

The reason you saw the ship turn hard to the right is because they must get around Harding rock and start making their turn for the Precautionary Area. Besides, if they don't turn hard after rounding Harding they will soon be out of deep water and hit bottom.

Its always best to sail outside of the shipping lanes but if you must cross a lane then try to visualize where the lanes are so you can anticipate hard turns that the ships will need to make.

The area on the East side of Alcatraz is the Precautionary Area and is basically an intersection of the shipping lanes. Sailing in there can be very hazardous. Take a look at chart 18650. It will show you where the shipping lanes are in the central SF Bay.

The Port Captain has deemed that all ships in the SF Bay have the right of way because they are very limited in where they can go...mostly because of their draft and limited maneuverability.

http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/18650.shtml
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Old 25-09-2008, 14:05   #4
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David,

I understand their right away, because of their restrictions. An on going topic in Lat38. I sailed the bay for 15 years, and was once accused of being the most used boat in the marina.

I can see what you are saying by looking at the chart, refresher. This situation was extremely out of the ordinary. I have never witnessed a boat list this dramatic. Maybe he was right where he was suppose to be? I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and that it was just my perception.
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Old 25-09-2008, 22:04   #5
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Containerships do roll pretty significantly when they put the rudder over. I have seen it numerous times on the SF Bay and experienced it during my internship...coincidently, with Maersk. The ships are intentionally loaded with a minimal metacenter (GM) in order to minimize whats called "racking" or the unnecessary shaking of the cargo caused by faster rolling. Because of the minimal metacentric height, they can roll significantly when turning.

It could very well be that the pilot was trying to avoid you and felt that putting over a little more rudder than typical was necessary. I see ships having to alter their courses frequently to avoid sailboats.
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Old 26-09-2008, 10:24   #6
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I have always given those big boys lots of room. After he made his turn I still had plenty of room, and time to depart. I was of no concern to him. He knew this immediatley as I turned abruptly perpendicular to his patch, and motor sailed out of the way. Leaving him lots of space.
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