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Old 08-02-2021, 17:53   #1
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Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outcome?

Yesterday we were broad reaching under gennaker and full main (145 TWA on starboard), heading towards our berth from a distant island. About 6 miles short of our destination we had a mid-sized RORO ship (180m long, roll on roll off car carrier) approaching from our windward (starboard) bow on a course that would cross ours at 90 degrees and with a 0.0nm closest point of approach (CPA) according to our AIS. Our boat speeds were roughly equal - 9.5kn for the ship and 9kn for us. Both of us were clearly visible and transmitting information over AIS, us class B and identified as sailing vessel and the RORO class A and commercial vessel.

We were outside of the harbour limits, there was no traffic separation scheme nor channel, and there was clear water all around with no obstructions within 3 miles.

We started watching the ship at about 5 miles distance from us. We determined that we were stand on as a sailing vessel and the RORO give way as a power vessel. The distance between us kept reducing with very little change in relative bearing, with the RORO just slightly bow forward of us. Note that our AIS continued to show 0.0 CPA.

At about 0.5nm separation, with no evident change of course or speed by the RORO, I called them on VHF 16 using their name (from AIS) and identifying ourselves as the sailboat on their port bow and our boat name. I asked what were their intentions for the crossing. A very relaxed voice replied that they were crossing our bow. I replied that we were currently on a collision course near their midpoint and that we would have to turn to starboard to take their stern. The relaxed voice came back and said to carry on, out.

We hardened up about 30 degrees and crossed their wake about 100 metres astern of them, then bore off back to our original course. Had we kept our original course and speed we would have hit them.

WTF?
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Old 08-02-2021, 18:21   #2
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

I would have called sooner while the RORO had plenty of time to adjust and commented on my status as standon vessel.
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Old 08-02-2021, 18:46   #3
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

Commercial ships have right of way in practice. I just adjust a bit to pass astern usually.

They often don’t even look at the “little boat AIS” when entering harbor areas. It’s just a crowded mess for them.

Source? My friend, a mate on ships like this.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:01   #4
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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I would have called sooner while the RORO had plenty of time to adjust and commented on my status as standon vessel.
Certainly this, a large commercial vessel is unlikely to be very interested in a drastic course alteration at that point (not withstanding who might be the standon vessel).

If the AIS already indicated a CPA of 0.0nm at 5nm distance then use that time and distance to get in touch with the ship in advance.

Having said that, the Auckland Harbour Master may be interested to hear about this vessel's actions, if you were looking to take it further.

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Old 08-02-2021, 19:05   #5
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

A 5 degree change in course when you FIRST noticed the issue would have avoided the whole problem. But you chose not to do that. It was a choice that YOU made.

What I have always explained to my students is that before there is a "risk of collision" there is no stand-on boat, and you can do whatever needs to be done to prevent a risky situation from developing with out violating your responsibilities as the "stand-on" vessel. When you are 5 miles away away from another vessel there is not a "risk of collision," and therefore you are NOT the stand on vessel. To create a risk of collision where no risk existed and was not necessary is just bad seamanship. Period.

You chose to force the issue. Now you chose to grandstand about how you were wronged. While you do that, we roll our eyes.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:19   #6
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pirate Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
A 5 degree change in course when you FIRST noticed the issue would have avoided the whole problem. But you chose not to do that. It was a choice that YOU made.

What I have always explained to my students is that before there is a "risk of collision" there is no stand-on boat, and you can do whatever needs to be done to prevent a risky situation from developing with out violating your responsibilities as the "stand-on" vessel. When you are 5 miles away away from another vessel there is not a "risk of collision," and therefore you are NOT the stand on vessel. To create a risk of collision where no risk existed and was not necessary is just bad seamanship. Period.

You chose to force the issue. Now you chose to grandstand about how you were wronged. While you do that, we roll our eyes.
Either a small course change or furl in some genny to drop off a couple of knots if the course was important to you in Tacking to a destination.
Bad call..
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:22   #7
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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A 5 degree change in course when you FIRST noticed the issue would have avoided the whole problem. But you chose not to do that. It was a choice that YOU made.
Well, unless I'm misunderstanding the situation of the two vessels, a course change to Port may not have been prudent (unless it was so far to port as to parallel the ship's course) as it may have just put oneself further into the ship's proposed track, if the ship didn't alter course.

And yet a course change to Starboard would make risk of collision worse if the ship were to take the sensible and appropriate action of altering to go behind the sailing vessel.

All that you say has some merit, but also applies to the ship too.
They should also have taken early and substantial action to make their intent clear.

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Old 08-02-2021, 19:31   #8
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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What I have always explained to my students is that before there is a "risk of collision" there is no stand-on boat, and you can do whatever needs to be done to prevent a risky situation from developing with out violating your responsibilities as the "stand-on" vessel. When you are 5 miles away away from another vessel there is not a "risk of collision," and therefore you are NOT the stand on vessel. To create a risk of collision where no risk existed and was not necessary is just bad seamanship. Period.
Very well put. When I come across commercial boats I try to remember that I'm out here playing, and they're out here working. That may not exactly apply to the OP's situation, but still...
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:35   #9
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
A 5 degree change in course when you FIRST noticed the issue would have avoided the whole problem. But you chose not to do that. It was a choice that YOU made.



What I have always explained to my students is that before there is a "risk of collision" there is no stand-on boat, and you can do whatever needs to be done to prevent a risky situation from developing with out violating your responsibilities as the "stand-on" vessel. When you are 5 miles away away from another vessel there is not a "risk of collision," and therefore you are NOT the stand on vessel. To create a risk of collision where no risk existed and was not necessary is just bad seamanship. Period.



You chose to force the issue. Now you chose to grandstand about how you were wronged. While you do that, we roll our eyes.

Force the issue???!!!??? ROTFLAPM

I simply waited to give the ship opportunity to do what it should to avoid collision. Note that 5 miles, if the ship was making its usual 20 knots, is not very far at all and certainly within risk of collision time.

Note that the correct action for the ship was either to alter course to port to go behind us, or to slow down to allow us to pass ahead, or to speed up and go ahead. I guess the ship decided on option three and we sped up as the breeze increased. Shows why crossing ahead is not the best choice.

But what if I changed course 5 degrees to starboard well ahead as you suggest? That would put me into the area into which the ship would turn if they turned to port to avoid us. Oops.

As well, a 5 degree change of course is not large enough to be clearly visible to the other ship - a course change should be large enough that it is readily visible on radar - typically 30 degrees.

Many times on this forum people with connections to ship’s masters and navigation officers have said that a stand on sailboat should respect the rules and stand on and the ship will take the correct give way action. If the sailboat takes premature action that does not accord with COLREGS, then the ship that needs to give way doesn’t know what other movements the boat could make and that makes the situation more dangerous for them.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:42   #10
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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Very well put. When I come across commercial boats I try to remember that I'm out here playing, and they're out here working. That may not exactly apply to the OP's situation, but still...
That is exactly the type of ad hoc attitude to the COLREGS that should be avoided.

Just follow the COLREGS. No judgement is required in relation to whether a vessel is working or playing.

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Old 08-02-2021, 19:44   #11
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

I would have called sooner just to check their intentions (and make sure that someone has seen you on AIS, radar, visually. Can't hurt.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:45   #12
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

The rule of tonnage always applies
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:48   #13
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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The rule of tonnage always applies
Despite many people on this forum loving to post that - NO IT DOES NOT.

There is no such rule, except in specific (normally localised) situations.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:49   #14
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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Well, unless I'm misunderstanding the situation of the two vessels, a course change to Port may not have been prudent (unless it was so far to port as to parallel the ship's course) as it may have just put oneself further into the ship's proposed track, if the ship didn't alter course.

And yet a course change to Starboard would make risk of collision worse if the ship were to take the sensible and appropriate action of altering to go behind the sailing vessel.

All that you say has some merit, but also applies to the ship too.
They should also have taken early and substantial action to make their intent clear.

All those concerns can be completely cured by a short and sweet radio call while everything is still 30 minutes away to make passing arrangements if you have any fear about something developing in an unexpected way. The idea that I should hold my course while a steady 0.0 CPA continues on and on is just anathema to me.

It's pretty routine for us to hail a larger vessel and confirm a port-to-port passing, or a starboard-to-starboard if that make more sense. It has always been well and politely received.

Waiting until you are minutes away from disaster (at least in your eyes) to do anything, or worse to suddenly insist that somebody else do something, is either arrogant, stupid, or both.
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Old 08-02-2021, 19:55   #15
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Re: Sailing vessel and RORO ship on collision courses - what do you think of the outc

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All those concerns can be completely cured by a short and sweet radio call while everything is still 30 minutes away to make passing arrangements if you have any fear about something developing in an unexpected way. The idea that I should hold my course while a steady 0.0 CPA continues on and on is just anathema to me.

It's pretty routine for us to hail a larger vessel and confirm a port-to-port passing, or a starboard-to-starboard if that make more sense. It has always been well and politely received.

Waiting until you are minutes away from disaster (at least in your eyes) to do anything, or worse to suddenly insist that somebody else do something, is either arrogant, stupid, or both.
That's a much better post that I mostly agree with - and in fact I mentioned in my first reply:

"If the AIS already indicated a CPA of 0.0nm at 5nm distance then use that time and distance to get in touch with the ship in advance".

However the prudency of taking early and substantial action should have been applied by the ship too, especially since this appears to be a fairly clear and simple power vs sail situation.

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