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Old 23-08-2013, 02:46   #1
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Sailing close to an anchored ship

I'm wondering what are the guidelines or rules for sailing close to large anchored vessels. A few months ago, I took us for a close look at an unladen anchored tanker, probably to less than 100M on the windward side.

As we approached we could hear an alarm sounding and a couple of the crew were making their way to the bow. So we promptly changed direction to put a bit of distance between us. The crew did not seem annoyed and we exchanged what appeared to be friendly waves. But obviously the alarm indicated we were too close. Perhaps it's an automatic response to see that there is no terrorism threat (or pirating in some parts of the world).

So what is an acceptable distance to approach without having the crew come out to check?
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Old 23-08-2013, 05:44   #2
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

I don't think it's obvious at all that the alarm indicated that you were too close. It could simply have been the ship weighing anchor. Just because an apple fell from a tree when you looked at it does not mean you were responsible for it falling.

Here in the US there are no guidelines (COLREGS, that I know of) regarding restrictions regarding proximity to an anchored vessel other than the ones in your head that sprout from common sense.
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Old 23-08-2013, 05:52   #3
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

it is a good idea to give anchored ships a wide berth,as if there is a wind change,they can swing faster than you can motor or sail out their radius of swing.
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Old 23-08-2013, 05:58   #4
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

No rules for that unless its a military vessel.

National Security

Current world events are touching our lives as never before. As a boater, you may be placed in a situation
that may put you in legal jeopardy, if not at risk of injury or worse.

Knowing how to act in certain areas or situations can not only make your trip more enjoyable, it can help
protect our country.

Naval Vessel Protection Zones

One thing you must contend with if you boat in certain areas of the country are Naval Vessel Protection Zones.
These zones are designed to prevent attacks against our navy by placing restrictions on how closely you may
come to a naval vessel.

The requirements are:

You may not approach within 100 yards of any U.S. naval vessel. Sometimes this is an impossible thing
to accomplish. If you need to pass within 100 yards of a U.S. naval vessel in order to ensure a safe passage

in accordance with the Navigation Rules, you must contact the U.S. naval vessel or the Coast Guard escort vessel on your VHF radio. (Channel 16).
  • You must operate at minimum speed within 500 yards of any U.S. naval vessel. You must proceed as
    directed by the vessels' commanding officer, or the official patrol.
Violations of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone are a felony offense, punishable by up to 6 years in prison
and/or up to $250,000 in fines.

And don't forget, both the Navy and the Coast Guard are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves...
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:39   #5
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

Cotemar,

I might add that not all navy or coastguard vessels are obviously marked as such....an alarm going off most likely means the OP got too close.
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:43   #6
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Keep your distance around large passenger vessels like cruise ships too. The Coasties often set up perimeters around them at dock/anchor as well, in places like Miami and Key West.

I passed through the anchorage outside the break water on the Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal recently. Lots of ships anchored there and they move frequently so you really have to pay attention. No way not to be in close proximity. Good idea to have your VHF scanning the traffic control and working channels for the area when in proximity big traffic so you can be aware of their intended movements.
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:45   #7
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

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Originally Posted by WebWench View Post
Cotemar,

I might add that not all navy or coastguard vessels are obviously marked as such....an alarm going off most likely means the OP got too close.
Or it could also mean that the OP just happened to be their when they were going through a fire drill.

We will never know for sure unless the OP was inquisitive and tried the same move a few hours later with the same result.
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:50   #8
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

Why not call the ship on the VHF and ask if its okay? Generally they are less nervous about this type of thing if you let them know your intentions ahead of time.
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:54   #9
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

I was sailing in near gale conditions in New York harbor one day. Ducked behind an anchored empty tanker to get a little respite. But, I was a little nervous about getting too close to the ship before I tacked. I wondered if those on the bridge of the tanker felt the same? Now with the AIS transponder on board I might be able to call them directly to let them know my intentions.
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Old 23-08-2013, 07:02   #10
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
I wondered if those on the bridge of the tanker felt the same?
I doubt it. If you sailed into the side of them it would barely scratch their paint. On the other hand, it might well damage your boat enough to sink it. And any follow-up investigation--if there even was one--would put you 100% at fault, since they were anchored at the time.

As to the OPs incident and the alarms, unless the ship was carrying hazardous and/or sensitive materials, and was therefore operating under some sort of national security guidelines, I suspect that the timing of the alarm was just a coincidence. I really doubt that they care very much if some small boat is stupid enough to sail into the side of them when they are anchored.
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Old 23-08-2013, 07:34   #11
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

I agree with those who believe the alarm had nothing to do with the OP's approaching the ship. If there had been a real concern or a restricted area around the ship the OP would have heard the warnings broadcast on the VHF.
Normally if there is a restricted area around a ship it will be enforced by small USCG, Navy or HS vessels with repeated warnings on the VHF.

John
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Old 23-08-2013, 07:44   #12
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

In harbour waters and approaches there can be moving mandatory exclusion zones around commercial vessels , especially certain classes of vessel. This can extend to anchorages within controlled zones.

Ive had the alarm thing too , when I approached a tanker in Gib, !

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Old 23-08-2013, 09:23   #13
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Keep your distance around large passenger vessels like cruise ships too. The Coasties often set up perimeters around them at dock/anchor as well, in places like Miami and Key West.
SFPD chasing away errant boater away from passenger ship Grand Princess:

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Old 23-08-2013, 09:27   #14
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

The authorities close the main shipping channel when an ammunition ship approaches Port Chicago.

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Old 23-08-2013, 09:34   #15
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Re: Sailing close to an anchored ship

A patrol boat will make a boat move if believed to be too close to the Suisun Bay reserve fleet.



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