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Old 08-12-2017, 11:07 PM   #1
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Good Choice, Skipper

Overheard an interesting exchange between a ship captain and a pleasure boat captain as we were exiting the Gulfport ship canal and entering the Intracoastal waterway headed east. We had been in the ICW about 20 minutes (out of the ship canal) when we noticed another pleasure craft on our radar about 5 miles behind us heading our way at a good rate of speed. I’m relaying this to remind folks not to put themselves in a bad place. This exchange occurred July 5, 2017.

We heard following exchange on the radio: “Pleasure boat headed eastbound on ICW coming up on the ship canal, this is the freighter inbound in Gulfport ship canal, do you read?” No answer. I thought he might have been talking to me but surely not! I was headed east but long past the ship canal and my AIS was on so he could have called me by name. Again : “Pleasure boat headed eastbound on ICW coming up on the ship canal this is freighter inbound in Gulfport ship canal, do you read?” Finally, “This is pleasure boat, what can I do for you, captain?” Ship captain says “Skipper, I need to know your intentions for crossing the ship canal”. Pleasure boat “I plan to beat you to the intersection and cross your bow”. Long pause, then ship captain says “Good luck with that skipper. My instrumentation says we will collide if we continue at our current speed. My boat is over 900 feet long and I’m currently traveling at 16 knots. It’s never a good idea to cross in front of a ship like you are planning. I cannot stop so if something were to happen to one of your engines or something happens to your drive train, there would be nothing I could do except to call the coast guard and have them pick up the bodies and pieces of your boat that are still floating. Just wanted to let you know”. Longer pause, then pleasure boat says “I’m slowing down and plan to pass you at your stearn”. Ship captain says “Good choice skipper”.
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Old 08-13-2017, 07:27 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this Tink!


My hat is off to the Captain for his actions to protect the welfare of his ship and crew as well as the skipper of the pleasure craft!


Cheers


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Old 08-13-2017, 10:40 AM   #3
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Too bad the ACX Crystal and the USS Fitzgerald didn't have that same conversation.
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Old 08-13-2017, 11:06 AM   #4
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Too bad the ACX Crystal and the USS Fitzgerald didn't have that same conversation.
It sure would have been. 7 sailors may be a live if they had!

Cheers

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Old 08-13-2017, 11:18 AM   #5
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I will tell you that it was very sobering hearing that conversation. It has made me think about my choices on the water.
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Old 08-13-2017, 12:26 PM   #6
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I think that some folks mistakenly think that if its a large ship that it must be moving slowly. In reality, as in the original post, some large ships can travel at relatively fast speeds.

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Old 08-13-2017, 12:53 PM   #7
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I will tell you that it was very sobering hearing that conversation. It has made me think about my choices on the water.

I bet it was Mate. I always give the large vessels a wide birth. I am just out playing, they are out working!

Cheers

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Old 08-13-2017, 02:22 PM   #8
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I don't have much interaction with large ships but now that I am retired my wife and I are venturing further and to more varied locations so I am sure I will see more large freighter and barge type craft. I am all for letting the big boys have the right of way. My question is about the wake or currents they create after the pass. How much of an issue can they be? I realize if I am playing proctologist all bets are off but what is considered an acceptable distance when crossing after they pass? Thanks.
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Old 08-13-2017, 06:38 PM   #9
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Sometimes on a narrow river or a narrow part of the ICW you feel the pull of the large vessels. I try not to get that close to them. It's most noticeable when you are coming up behind them and their big wheels are churning in 10 feet of water. A little bit like a mild roller coaster trying to keep my boat going in the correct direction. Usually by the time I feel the current they are creating I have contacted them and have a plan to get around them. Just be sure to stay under power and you won't be effected that much.
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Old 08-13-2017, 07:13 PM   #10
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About a week ago, as I was southbound, I was hailed by a freighter asking my intentions. He reported that he was off my port bow and that we were on a collision course. I was surprised to hear that, as between my AIS collision avoidance (which was set to alarm of any vessel on a course that would bring us within 1 nm, within 30 minutes), radar ARPA (which invariably reports the same collision avoidance data for AIS ships as AIS does), and visual observation, I had been comfortable that there were no collision threats.

It took me a little longer to figure out which target was the hailing vessel, in part because the ship name he used didn't quite match his AIS name (he gave a two word name, AIS was only reporting the second word), and in part because he reported being off my port bow, when in fact he was off my starboard bow.

In any event, I soon identified the vessel as being over 8 miles away, but more importantly (just) over 30 minutes from TCPA. My course had me passing in front of him by almost 1 nm. A small turn to port would have increased that separation, but instead I turned to starboard to pass about 1/2 mile behind him.

What I am wondering was 1) how do you all set your AIS / ARPA alarms in coastal waters -- should I expand to over 30 minutes / 1 nm? And secondly, what is a comfortable distance to pass in front of a large freighter making 10 - 20 knots?
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:11 PM   #11
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Those "what are your intentions?" calls don't happen much around here because we usually give the tugs/barges plenty of room.


We were out a month or so ago, headed upstream, approaching a narrow stretch of the Columbia between an island and the north shore. A dinner cruise boat about 90' long was headed downstream into that same narrow stretch .


I made a turn to stbd to show my intentions. He made a similar turn to his port which again put us on a collision course.


I radioed him, mentioned my turn and asking his intentions. The reply: "Not to run into you. Sorry about that. Just a moment of inattention on my part" and then he made a turn to his stbd away from our collision course.


I just chuckled.
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Old 08-13-2017, 10:52 PM   #12
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Today leaving Nanaimo out of Departure Bay, I was crossing the bay as a BC ferry was coming in. The ferry just chose to give a long blast and while I felt I would have been well clear, I altered course to pass astern. Those ferries can be deceptively fast and I'd feather be behind them than in front of them.
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Old 08-14-2017, 04:45 PM   #13
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I was on the Mississippi River just down from St. Louis last year. I rounded a bend and sighted a towboat pushing 4 abreast about 2 miles away. I hailed the towboat on his channel asking how best I could stay out of his way. He said, "Crawl up on the f****** bank and wait till I pass." So I did.
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Old 08-14-2017, 06:30 PM   #14
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I guess you opened the door with that question, and admittedly that's a pretty wide barge string- but he could have been more professional. Esp. since you asked at 2 miles. Plus, he's bound to have that situation with other wide tows all the time. These days I usually hear the captains on the radio just say, "One whistle" or "Two whistles" to each other. Not so many blasts. They can be a little disdainful of pleasure boats. I'm sure that is somewhat deserved.
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:43 PM   #15
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Find some recreational trawlers and fifty-some-feet USCG boats make greater wakes than ships.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MYTraveler View Post

What I am wondering was 1) how do you all set your AIS / ARPA alarms in coastal waters -- should I expand to over 30 minutes / 1 nm? And secondly, what is a comfortable distance to pass in front of a large freighter making 10 - 20 knots?
Two things:
1. You don't want to set the AIS so rust you get too many false alarms.
I actually set mine for 15 min or sometimes 6 min.

2. If I were to pass a big ship 1 nm in front, that seems like a lot. But the math tells a different story.
At 16 knots, big ship is doing 0.26 nm/ min. At my 6 knots, Dauntless is doing 0.1 nm/min

Therefore if I'm a mile in front, passing at a right angle, big ship will buzz by my stern in 4 min, but I'll only be 0.4 nm away.

So instead of having a mile clearance, it's less than half a mile.

My rule now is I'll pass in front if greater than 5 nm.

Otherwise, change course or slow down to pass behind.

At night, if see them in the radar, it's ALWAYS behind.
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Old 08-15-2017, 07:06 AM   #17
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Two things:
1. You don't want to set the AIS so rust you get too many false alarms.
I actually set mine for 15 min or sometimes 6 min.

2. If I were to pass a big ship 1 nm in front, that seems like a lot. But the math tells a different story.
At 16 knots, big ship is doing 0.26 nm/ min. At my 6 knots, Dauntless is doing 0.1 nm/min

Therefore if I'm a mile in front, passing at a right angle, big ship will buzz by my stern in 4 min, but I'll only be 0.4 nm away.

So instead of having a mile clearance, it's less than half a mile.

My rule now is I'll pass in front if greater than 5 nm.

Otherwise, change course or slow down to pass behind.

At night, if see them in the radar, it's ALWAYS behind.


I go for 3-5 miles depending on their speed. 20 kts is very different from 12 kts. even crossing traffic lanes, it's amazing how quickly they come up on your. I've had to carefully calculate out a crossing for a ship that I can't even see, yet 60 minutes later, there you both are within a couple of miles of each other.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:06 AM   #18
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The first time I realized how fast those guys go was many years ago when I was paddling my kayak from Portland, down to Astoria on the Columbia River. I was blissfully minding my own business paddling downriver when an incredibly loud horn blast from behind just about knocked me out of my boat. I turned and saw a huge freighter quickly bearing down on me, throwing up a very large bow wave. The adrenaline from the horn and the sight of that bow wave saved me from becoming salmon chum...
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