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Old 17-10-2009, 14:30   #46
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Hey, Johnar

Try not to take offense to a lot of different opinions. No harm meant, I'm sure.

I think the simple answer to your question would have been if you're not sure, ask...communicate with the ship. Ask him his intentions, ask him what he would like you to do, tell him your situation. Sometimes it's true, the big guys get frustrated with the little guys, but if you're straight with him, hopefully he'll realize you're trying and he'll work with you.

Anyway, interesting thread with a lot of "interesting" opinions on this, that's for sure. I for one think it's good that you posted this - I think it's happened to a lot more people than want to admit it. Good discussion.


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Old 17-10-2009, 14:37   #47
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P.S. Pelagic...I just saw your post, I should have just said "Ditto".

And Talbot, It would be a perfect world if everyone knew the appropriate dayshapes for CBD and everything else, knew the rules of the road and could determine right of way accordingly...but the chances of that happening? Hmmm...I'll buy a lotto ticket and win first


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Old 17-10-2009, 15:57   #48
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rule 9 is the law as is the 500 ft clearance the big ships have been granted since 9/11---sail , disabled, whatever---THEY are the owners of the channel when they are your rules and read the new will learn either the easy way or the hard way....try to learn the easy way.....this is something those who regularly share shipping channels with ships have to know stone cold...they own it--in the icw is a different story--you can communicate with them on the subject of passing---gooood luck-----.
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Old 18-10-2009, 05:42   #49
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There is the rules and there is common sense. Under the rules, you have the right to be there . You also have the obligation to follow the rules and give way to a vessel "restricted in it's ability to manouver". Under common sense you need to look at the reality of your situation. Staying in "the channel" isn't the idea. It's keeping your keel off the bottom. We were recently coming into Miami harbor after a rough crossing of the Gulf Stream. The entrance channel has a dogleg and I was cutting the corner to get into the harbor as soon as possible. My wife, who is obsessed with "rules", kept telling me I was "out of the channel". I kept telling her that I had 30 feet of water. You don't have to stay in the channel unless you're a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier. As long as you have enough water, get the hell out of the way.

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Old 18-10-2009, 20:25   #50
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Originally Posted by Dick Pluta View Post
. As long as you have enough water, get the hell out of the way.

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I don't think he had water. He saw rocks.
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Old 18-10-2009, 21:32   #51
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If you ever traveled the ICW in Georgia or some other places where the channel would make a snake jealous with its twists and turns - you need to understand that barges and other contrained vessels are not only constrained due to draft but constrained due to maneuvering within the channel. With a tide running the situation get even worse for the large vessel. Stopping going upriver on a flood tide (this situation) is not an option for the large vessel. Add to that the need to pivot across a corner and end up in a position so that an outbound vessel can pass severely limits the pilot's options. If a pilot's asks you to vacate the channel it is because his ship needs all of that channel to safely continue. He is in a much better and experienced position to evaluate how much of the channel he needs than you. Calling on Ch16 will be futile in some situations as the pilot is busy on Harbour channel 11-14 talking to other large ships and planning safe passings.
- - I have witnessed small sailboats in the ICW pull over to the side only to be physically shoved up on top of the island by the barge/tug push because they needed to put the bow of the barge in the island sand to pivot the corner. You do want to get yourself trapped on the shoal water side of a channel. Always plan to switch sides as necessary to get yourself some safe water outside a channel. And stay away from the inside of turns. The St John's River channel is cut right up to the shore with no water outside the channel in places due to the need for turning radius of the big ships. If you are lucky you will learn this from watching others being shoved out of the water or crushed rather than you being the crushee. It almost tearful to see a new shinny boat with a crushed side because it didn't vacate the channel in time or know how large vessel and tug/barges have to operate. it can sure spoil your day.
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Old 18-10-2009, 22:10   #52
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Rights and Dead Right

We sail in very close quarters in our channel. There is room for two ships to pass but that is about it. There is also plenty of depth for all yachts to be "out of the channel - defined as a line from one marker to the next.

These ships are often travelling at 7+ knots as running with the current + steerage requires it. No one really monitors radio but the ships doo blast long and early if they see boats in the center of the channel. There have been many cases of lasers and picos being becalmed in our channel. This is a scary thought as the ships can't practically stop or change course. If they were to stop without steerage they would be out of control.

We look ahead (and behind) and plan ahead and I always make sure the aux motor is working. This weekend we had to cross the channel and the winds were light. A ship was coming so I started the engine and left it in idle in preparation for evading if I needed to.

As for advice for OP? - you should always know the mechanical status of your boat and therefore know if the aux engine is not working - I appears you did. If your aux engine is not working and you are in a channel that creates a restricted situation for ships, plan ahead and stay well to the sides of the channel. Your channel must have room for two ships to pass as well as room for small yachts to hug the edges. Leave a downwind escape so that if it looks tight you can bear away. Finally if the wind is weak and no aux motor you should have ground tackle ready.

I had a close encounter a month or so back. Stupid mistake on my part and I learned a lot. Consider this just a lesson. I sense that "scaring" the admiral was the reason that you posted.

Now for a little thread drift - there's an aviation joke that goes - A private propellor driven airplane is cleared to land - which basically means he "owns" the approach path and landing runway until he is done. A commercial jet behind calls the tower and says, "Tell that little guy to huury up. I am catching up with him." The tower states, "The little guy is cleared to land. You will have to slow down" The commercial jet says, "I can't slow down and if I have to go around it wil cost my airline, $20,000 in fuel." The tower stated, "Commercial jet you are cleared for the $20,000 go around."

I respect commercial shipping as much as humanly possible. They are making a living and I am reducing stress. Dicing with a ship just raises my stress level.

PS - Added a shot of our boat "giving way" in the channel.
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Old 19-10-2009, 06:20   #53
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On a better note, I have been cautioned for the opposite of the situation we have been discussing a couple of times: Inbound in Brunswick (GA)/St Simons Island channel, I moved just outside of the buoy line to give way to a car ferry - the pilot was kind enough to call and warn me that his wake may push me on the bar north of the channel and to come in a little. How's that for comforting courtesy?...

When sailing in the ICW (TX, LA) it is common to call the barge captain and ask what side of the barge s/he wants you to pass - helps everyone involved.

Fair winds to all


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