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Old 24-10-2021, 18:53   #16
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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I would appreciate thoughts and suggestions.


Susan

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Old 24-10-2021, 22:35   #17
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Re: Help around New Jersey

When trajectory is static an early and obvious course change is warranted.
And never assume another vessel can see you on radar or otherwise.
You used your flashlight and it did the job, but should have been a spotlight at a much greater distance.
You didn't panic, you changed course and communicated .
How long from time you spotted tug to passing?
(You were probably closing in at approx 15 knots/1500 ft per minute) things happen fast, screen time could become dangerous.
How far offshore/how deep water?
Could they have been turning into a nearby inlet?
Sure was no problem staying awake rest of night.
Happy all good now, thank you for sharing as will help many who follow.
Let us know how your cruise down coast goes.
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Old 25-10-2021, 06:26   #18
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Re: Help around New Jersey

First of all, congratulations! You did it! I will agree with Chotu. Eyes up and you might have seen the tug much sooner. Realizing that you were seeing the tugs Port side, your course change might have been better if you also changed to Port rather than turning to starboard into the oncoming path of a tug. You crossed the bow of the tug.

Also, were you hailing on channel 13 or channel 16? Channel 13 is the bridge to bridge communications although sometimes they monitor channel 16. Those boats move relatively fast, so even if you went 90° to Port it would only be for about 20 minutes and then the tug would pass and you could go back on course.

You had a very successful trip all things considered. Congratulations!
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Old 25-10-2021, 07:24   #19
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Re: Help around New Jersey

With initially only red/port light showing, turn to starboard made sense although could have been sooner/overt move.
Seems tug changed course to port to show starboard/green.
REAL GOOD he was not towing barge.
Is why you keep lots of distance day/night from them.
On Jersey coast find sweet spot outside tugs/barges and inside of ships.
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Old 25-10-2021, 10:06   #20
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Re: Help around New Jersey

My bad. I misunderstood the post. The tug was coming at you, not passing you. You made the right decision for sure to turn to starboard for a standard port to port passing.
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Old 25-10-2021, 13:15   #21
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Re: Help around New Jersey

We really appreciate all your input. We know now to communicate early as to other vessels' intentions/expectations; I think that was our biggest mistake, as based on the information we had (visual and electronic) we initially made the correct move to starboard (although it could have been more pronounced.) Another suggestion we've received was to get a radar reflector since we don't currently have one. That should help for the duration of the trip until we get our AIS installed in Florida.



Upon reflection (and with the perspective of distance), it was a "good" experience, as it taught us the things that can go wrong and what we can do in the future to mitigate issues. (I just thought of another aid: a horn?) At least we were wearing our vests!



Again, thanks for all your advice. I've been reading the Forums for years in anticipation of this trip (and have learned so much!), but never thought I'd be posting myself, especially about something like this. But if it helps, it's all good, right?
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Old 25-10-2021, 17:35   #22
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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We know now to communicate early as to other vessels' intentions/ expectations; I think that was our biggest mistake, as based on the information we had (visual and electronic) we initially made the correct move to starboard (although it could have been more pronounced).

Another suggestion we've received was to get a radar reflector since we don't currently have one.
If that's the main thing you learned, it's a good lesson!

Remember, also, that at midnight, we're all awake: their watchkeeper is up keeping watch; you're up keeping watch... if you hail them early, it becomes just a bit of housekeeping that you take care of - then you can have a bit of a chat. Ask them where they're going, what port they hail from, stuff like that. In the old days, I would often hail cruiseships and get their latest weather report because they CERtainly had more onboard electronics than we ever did!

Anyway, early contact to (a) ensure they've seen you; (b) confirm how you'll both alter course; then (c) say hello to a fellow mariner who might have an interesting story or weather/traffic info to keep both crewmembers alert in the middle of a dark night on a dark ocean. (Not on CH 16 of course!)

And yes. Get a radar reflector. Maybe also a bigger handheld flashlight that you can shine on your mainsail to make your main more visible in a crossing situation. Keep it near the companionway at night (also can be used for sail trim).

Well done,
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Old 26-10-2021, 05:26   #23
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Re: Help around New Jersey

In my original comment I ended my post with the admonition "Stay safe! Don't depend on electronics as nothing beats good old fashioned prudent seamanship." With the entire coast of New Jersey you found yourself dangerously in the path of a large vessel, possibly with a tow. Had you gone with your original plan to hire a professional skipper or more experienced mariner, you would likely have not found yourself in that position. The problem with "experience" is that the test always come first. As for Marine Traffic and AIS etc etc, I believe you were more concerned about electronics rather than "old fashioned prudent seamanship." All navigation tools ultimately depend upon seamanship on both vessels and AIS only works if the other vessel is transmitting properly and you are receiving and ACTING properly i.e. seamanship. Lookout, scanning the horizon, using binocular, making a proper and strong and deliberate course change in ample time etc etc. And remember that compass, binocular and depth sounder as well as vhf are now fairly "old" tools, but they are the best WHEN USED IN CONJUNCTION with other tools and SEAMANSHIP. And you mentioned radar reflector--that is a must for nighttime, coastal and offshore but for that to be useful, RADAR is required on the other boat PLUS..a good watch officer or lookout employing SEAMANSHIP. It all boils down to "good old fashioned prudent seamanship" and that can be taught, developed and improved upon but starting out by trying to learn it through your own experience may not be the best plan. Stay safe!
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Old 29-10-2021, 07:13   #24
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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We are a couple starting from Lake Champlain making our way south for the first time and have never made an overnight passage on our own boat. We will be in Atlantic Highlands, NJ this Friday and believe there will be a good weather window to make it around to Cape May this weekend. We are looking to hire a captain to help make this overnight passage with us. I'm sure more information will be needed so let me know if you are interested and we'll answer your questions.

Thank you!

Susan & Jim

P.S. We have a cat onboard
Hello from NJ.. You may wish to await a better window of very late Sat into early Sunday with winds shifting from the South at 20+, to Westerly at 10 to 15. Unless you want a real ride Sat and Sunday with Eastelry above 20 with gust predicted at 48 to 50. Its normally an easy cruise on a westerly and have done it many times down to Cape May.
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Old 29-10-2021, 07:42   #25
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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Hello from NJ.. You may wish to await a better window of very late Sat into early Sunday with winds shifting from the South at 20+, to Westerly at 10 to 15. Unless you want a real ride Sat and Sunday with Eastelry above 20 with gust predicted at 48 to 50. Its normally an easy cruise on a westerly and have done it many times down to Cape May.
They completed the trip 4 days ago.
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Old 29-10-2021, 11:11   #26
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Having made that trip several times, always leaving Atlantic Highlands early in the morning and arriving at Cape May breakwater around midnight, my reaction to seeing another vessel is to get on the radio and ask if they see me. Often they are fishing boats with gear in the water, so they may not steer a steady coarse. It's comforting when they answer up and we decide "Port to Port".
Fair winds.
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Old 29-10-2021, 11:21   #27
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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Well, we made it.
Susan,

A few more thoughts from a marine professional (naval architect, marine engineer, now a delivery skipper).

It's worth noting that those who dismiss AIS don't have it. The MarineTraffic app is NOT a substitute. Fifteen years ago you would get different advice from me. Today it is clear that both receiving and sending is a major safety technology. Yes, not everyone is transmitting. Yes, you still have to keep your eyes outside the boat. You were fortunate that the tug came back to you based on "tug, tug, tug" - calling them by name, early, would have made the crossing a non event.

AIS is sufficiently important that I carry an AIS receiver with my nav kit on deliveries. When I figure out how to carry a transponder I will.

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We’ve discussed it since then and think maybe his course was set on his plotter, and we coincidentally turned into his preset path?
Unlikely. I don't know any professionals who let their chart plotter follow routes. It's unsafe and irresponsible. He certainly had a plan. More likely he just didn't see you until you started yelling at which point he looked more carefully at his radar.

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I won’t say I’ll never make another overnight passage again, but if I do it won’t be without AIS. Not that that would have solved the issue if he wasn’t paying attention. Also, we realize we should have hailed him sooner to acknowledge our intention to avoid him.
There is no substitute for communication. Rules are fine, but talking to someone and confirming intentions is irreplaceable. The real benefits of sailing at night are that: it's beautiful, the marks are lit and easier to see, and most of the recreational boaters (the second biggest hazard for recreational boaters is other recreational boaters) are home in bed. All you have to deal with are professionals.

N.B. the biggest hazard to recreational boaters is dockhands.
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Old 29-10-2021, 11:24   #28
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Congrats on the trip. Nothing can replace/displace experience.

These are all excellent and respectful responses to your concerns. Makes me appreciate this community even more.

I come to sailing with an aviation background so I like multiple sources of information, I.e. redundancy, as well as paper charts. My significant other, on the other hand, would just as soon deep-six the electronics and substitute them with a sextant and ball of yarn. But, as mentioned, here, there is no substitute for the human eye and the gray matter behind it (them). Making obvious heading and course changed is smart and recommended in the regs. Make a decision and be deliberate.

As for AIS, it’s a great tool and offers advantages by showing the other vessel’s name, speed and course. This allows you to call them directly, by name, on the VHF. But, it’s just one tool and is not good for all circumstances. We’re really glad to have it but it only lets us relax a bit but not sleep.

Keep us all posted on your progress.

We’ll done!
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Old 29-10-2021, 11:48   #29
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Re: Help around New Jersey

We’ve been cruising full time for four years now and in our opinion AIS is the most important piece of safety gear you can buy, with the possible exception of life jackets. We think its nuts that some boats still don’t have it.
If you had AIS you would have shown up on his chart plotter as a flashing red light. Often big ships can see you and their radar may miss you. Also with AIS you could have hailed them by name, which almost always gets their attention. I also find that when I know their name I tend to hail them earlier.
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Old 29-10-2021, 12:53   #30
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Re: Help around New Jersey

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We’ve been cruising full time for four years now and in our opinion AIS is the most important piece of safety gear you can buy, with the possible exception of life jackets. We think its nuts that some boats still don’t have it.
Although not my strong point I was trying to be tactful. You were more clear. Not having AIS in the modern world is just not smart.
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