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Old 11-16-2018, 11:32 AM   #1
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Experience....

Just a little something I learned on my last trip down the coast.
I(Carver 35) was following a friend in a Sea Ray 47. We were coming up on a tow/barge and looking to overtake. He had 3 barges strung out and the wind was blowing hard out of the south so he was up into the wind taking up a lot of the ICW(we were just west of Port Oconnor...eastbound). We coordinated for a pass on a two whistle. So we wer going around him, tow on one side...jammed up close the shore on the left/north side. Sea Ray in front of me. The tow wanted a slow bell so we were creeping around but Sea Ray kinda got spooked as he was getting pinched between the barge and the shallower water on the north side so he powered up. I was just coming alongside the pushboat when the Sea Ray wake bounced off of the barge and back at me...it hit me on the stern first and turned me into the pushboat...right at the point of where that swirling eddy is right next to the pushboat and behind the barge. So I am damn near perpendicular to the pushboat and pointed right at it with full port rudder. I slam the left throttle closed and jam the right throttle for more power and FINALLY, the boat responds. Except now, I'm pointed directly at the shoreline in rapidly decreasing water depth. I slam both throttles closed and slow down. Realize, I am towing a dinghy on about a 60 tow bridle....I can't just back up. Anyway, the real danger is gone but I pivot the boat around and go for another (successful) run at it.

Moral of the story, if you are following someone around a barge in close quarters and they are capable of making a wake, be aware of their wake bouncing off of the barge and back into you. In this scenario, the wake spreads from the boat ahead and then bounces and comes back to you on the stern quarter. The boat in this case wants to surf/broach going in an unintended direction until the rudders(or assymetrical thrust from a twin engine boat) can correct it. There was also a lot of air in the water from the barge/pushboat diminshing rudder control even more along with the swirly eddy right next to the pushboat.

Wendy was there to pat me on the back on doing a great job handling the boat in that situation. I did handle the boat well enough to get us out of a sticky situation. But I will leave you with a little saying we use in aviation:

A superior pilot uses his superior judgement so he does NOT have to use his superior skill !!!

I think I fell short on the first part and ended up having to use the second part. Lesson learned and chock it up to experience! Next time I will just let the boat go ahead of me and wiat for awhile until everything calms down and I can make a clean run at it. Also realize just how much towing a dinghy restricts you in maneuvering. I like to think I have planned ahead in all scenarios...I didn't have this one in my "experience bank". I do now.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:04 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting. Very insightful.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker View Post
A superior pilot uses his superior judgement so he does NOT have to use his superior skill !!!
Priceless!
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the caution! Must have been one hell of a ride.

It's far better to learn from the experiences of others b/c we don't have enough time (or luck) to learn it all from our own mistakes.

I spent a good part of this week coming and going through my marina during dredging operations. It also was an education in maneuvering through tug propwash and dredging obstacles in very tight quarters. Maintaining good communications with the dredge Capt. and having plan A and plan B was my key to success.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:56 PM   #5
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Growing up in Europe there were a lot of canals, and large powered barges running them like 18 wheelers on an interstate..... Often the walls of the canals were steel and 10+ feet tall. When the barges were full they were often slow, but they moved a LOT of water. The "sea state" between the barge and the steel canal wall was often "interesting".....
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:44 PM   #6
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We had a similar sort of experience recently, traveling the ICW in the Port Everglades (Ft. Laud.) area, passing by the freight terminals. There was a large freighter that had just docked, with the 2 tugs still attending to it. To stay clear we were hugging the east edge of the channel. The Admiral was relieving me at the helm, and all was well. Then we entered the prop wash of the first tug which was being used to pin the freighter to the dock while lines were made fast. We were shoved about 40 feet to starboard into rapidly decreasing depths.

The force was enough that the helm could not respond. Very nerve wracking, but we were prepared for the same effect when passing behind the second tug performing the same function. This past weekend we were passing thru the Port Miami area, saw a freighter pinned to the dock by 2 tugs, and knew exactly what to expect. Those tugs flat out move some water!
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:45 PM   #7
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We have a canal here joining the Anisquam River to Gloucester Harbor that is only about a hundred yards long or but gets a TON of traffic because there's a bridge over it that has to be raised for most boats. Very touristy beachy area so car traffic is heavy over the bridge, and a big boating area on summer weekends near a busy boat ramp and a few marinas, so heavy boat traffic underneath the bridge. All the boats are anxiously waiting for the bridge and when it finally goes up, they all gun it to be first through the canal. The sterns all sink so wakes go up, prop wash gets crazy, and then, since the canal is only about 60 feet wide, the wakes bounce off the walls. All the outbound traffic goes first, then all the inbound. Sometimes there can be 10-20 boats in each direction from little bowriders to commercial lobstermen, and the big whale watching boats. At peak flow the current is 4-5 knots and it just turns into a washing machine in there. There can be standing waves 5 feet tall and at right angles to each other. Its the most nervewracking 100 yards of boating I've ever willingly gone through.

Oh yeah...and there are usually 25-30 yahoos fishing from the sides yelling at you to watch out for their line. Total Chaos. There were more than a few times where I just had to stay in the river for the day or come back later.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:52 PM   #8
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Missed it by that much!
Thanks for the reminder
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Old 11-16-2018, 03:28 PM   #9
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Had some fun on Monday loading 5 boats including three 40'+ and one 60', into the Moorehaven lock. It reminded me that I don't like to follow and like being closely followed even less. A friend with me just kept shaking his head.

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