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Old 07-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #1
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Grand Banks run over by a freighter

I was just turned on to this article documenting a Great Lakes freighter running over a wooden Grand Banks 36 on the Detroit River a few years ago. For those of you that do the ICW and Great Loop and deal with freighter traffic like this, I cannot imagine going through this. We have our share of freighters in the PNW but fortunately there is more room for avoidance than these folks had. But regardless, conditions occur where this could happen everywhere. The need for safety and constant 360 degree observations remains the same.

I am guessing this might have been posted before but could not find it doing a search.

A Life-Changing Journey, Part 1 – The Adventure | Classic Boat News / Woody Boater
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:42 AM   #2
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Story worth reading and remembering.
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:55 AM   #3
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Unfortunately. This is not the first time things like this have happened in this area. Great story though for sure.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:47 PM   #4
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Gripping reading.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:02 PM   #5
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Great article! Thanks for posting it. I suppose that all of us who have at one time or another pulled out of the channel (as far as possible!) on the ICW to anchor for the night have had nightmares about the anchor dragging, the boat slowly sliding into the channel, and one of those humongous big barges coming along and plowing us under!

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Old 07-25-2013, 04:44 PM   #6
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That story makes me shudder. What he says about the wakes of the large freighters is so true. Not only the freighters, but all large ships traveling at speed throw huge wakes that have a lot of force.

I almost sunk a Bayliner 4588 because we had stopped in the Straits of Juan de Fuca to watch a Navy ship pass by. It was traveling at high speed, passing about 1/2 mile (or more) away from us. To make a long story short, we went up and over the first wave of the wake, then up and over the second, falling down a deep chasm on the back of the second wave, then the bow stuck into the third wave. That third wave looked to be taller than we were as we stood on the flybridge.

We took a wall of water about 1'-1.5' tall over the wind venturi on the bow. The boat shuddered to a stop then popped back out of that third wave. The water that came over the bow washed off everything that was on the flybridge...magazines, books, sunscreen, towels, etc.

We found out later the ship was headed to the middle east because the first invasion of Kuwait had happened. Having seen what a large ships wake is like when it's traveling at high speed, I know to run as fast as I can to get away from it.

Good tale Keith. Thanks for sharing that link with us.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:56 PM   #7
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just wow. I could not imagine the terror of going through such an event. We have a lot of barges and tows on the TN River and gets darn narrow in some places. Last year there was the 43 Defever that flipped down on the Ten Tom when having a tow pass them that a friend of mine did the salvage on. Note to self- stay very very far away from barges and freighters. My biggest fear on the river has been the anchor dragging and pulling us into the channel...which is why we only anchor in the most secluded and current free anchorages!
Here is an article about the 43 Defever on the Ten Tom (this boat had been at our home marina in Chattanooga not a couple of weeks before the accident):
Cause of trawler capsize unclear
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:01 PM   #8
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I might also add (from experience!) that in narrow places in the ICW, a large barge can not only throw a wake, but also drop the water level quite a bit for a boat coming by it. No real danger to life and limb, but good chance of running aground if you are in skinny water to begin with (such as the ICW in Georgia, South Carolina and places south of Jacksonville in Florida).
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:42 PM   #9
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On the TN river just last year a Defever 49 RPH like mine was rolled after cutting too close behind a tug pushing a load.

Those tugs can displace ALL the water behind them and if you are too close to their stern when trying to cross the river your boat will find itself at the bottom of the hole and pinned there when the river fills in the void as the tug moves away.

I am always cautious on the river and a captain I know with almost a million sea miles told me he has never been as nervous in the middle of the ocean has he has running a BoatUS towboat on the TN at times.

Here is a tug passing us as we wait to enter his space in the lock into Pickwick Lake.
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Old 07-25-2013, 06:02 PM   #10
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Always fun when tows get this close. Tow captain called on radio from around blind hairpin curve and advised he would be on our exact position in 4 minutes, and advised we hug our starboard bank due to tow swing to round curve, barge being 105' wide, and the Tombigbee River not significantly wider at that point. Fortunately had enough depth to hug bank and all fine but good reason to put AIS at top of Xmas list.

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Old 07-25-2013, 06:04 PM   #11
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This all sounds frightening. It makes my sense of awareness to what is going on around me that much more important when out cruising. I had not been aware of the water level changes mentioned by several people here as a large ship passes by. I watched a YouTube clip from the article I posted showing it and was amazed. I use to think tidal rapids were my biggest water concern out here but need to add a few more things to the list now.
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Old 07-25-2013, 06:35 PM   #12
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Large ships don't create large wakes in the San Francisco estuary. They never seem to go faster than 10 knots. (High-speed ferries are another matter, however.)

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Old 07-25-2013, 07:15 PM   #13
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This book has a cult following:

Be sure to read the reviews such as:

I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer's other excellent titles: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational as it is informational. After reading them I haven't been hit by anything bigger than a diesel bus. Thanks captain!

I actually saw a ship run over a 16 foot fishing boat carrying two Canadians the day before yesterday. All survived. Even the boat.

Amazon.com: How to Avoid Huge Ships (9780870334337): John W. Trimmer: Books

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Old 07-25-2013, 07:28 PM   #14
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This photo in the article is actually of my boat captured off the internet when she was for sale.

Kind of eerie being in an article like this

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Old 07-25-2013, 09:32 PM   #15
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Well, if that story doesn't sober one up, I don't know what will. It should be standard reading for freighter captains as well as pleasure boaters.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:25 AM   #16
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Interesting story.

But there's a very serious missing link.

Why didn't they see the freighter? It was broad daylight w three guys lounging about in the cabin w windows all around them. looks to me that there's a good chance the Captain of the freighter had every reason to say "why did you cut in front of me". I'm wondering what on earth they were doing there but more importantly why they didn't see the freighter?

They sound like a foursome of charming and competent older men minding their own business and I don't think they were idiots but w three guys on the bridge (in the pilothouse) not seeing something as big as a freighter I can't even begin to think of them as competent. Even w one guy at the helm it's hard to imagine their not seeing the freighter.

What did I miss?
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:59 AM   #17
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Eric episode three talked about the "why's". You are right, they should have seen the freighter, no excuses in my book. In their defence, the freighter should have been signaling and after pulling all those watches, not being young men, I'm sure fatigue was a factor. With the poor visibility to the stern on that boat, I can appreciate how it happened. But they knew they had poor visibility aft and that second person on the watch should have been watching their "6". Being so close to their destination after a long trip, there was possibly a lap in concentation as well

I was a guest on a 1968 42' Tolycraft tricabin and it had the same sight limitations to the stern. (One small stern window which is high and of little use.) We were on a day cruise from Anacortes to San Juan Island and back. Operating the boat from the cabin with no stern sight unnerved me so much that I had to go up on the flybridge even though the weather was not the greatest, it was a cold early Spring day.

A lot of coulda..shoulda...woulda's. But the bottomline, is a combination of errors on the part of both crews lead to a near fatal accident.

IMHO
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:18 PM   #18
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I can agree with Eric as well as to what others said about not seeing the freighter, to a point. Since I own the same model GB, I am very aware of the blind spot from the interior helm, which is why I always have my radar on as a rear view mirror monitor as well as forward scanning. That is how I tracked the approach of three Washington State ferries when I brought the boat up to Anacortes. I happen to be driving from the inside because of rain and watched the radar. But once again, due vigilance is paramount for all vessels and the GB and Freighter seemed to share some level of fault. 10 minutes of not looking behind could easily have a fast vessel overtake the GB. For us, it is another reason we prefer driving from the Flybridge and we always have someone checking our rear view for approaching vessels. I am looking in to having radar up there as well, currently we do not. Thinking about the digital radar......
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:57 PM   #19
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I also can't help pondering "why". So far all I've come up with is improper lookouts.

The facts aren't kind to the GB crew. You just CAN'T "miss" a freighter bearing down on you if you're keeping a proper lookout.

The author mentioned the freighter bow watch leaving his post before his relief arrived, and that's certainly an issue, too. It's understandable that the bridge crew thought there was only one small boat, and they had a good visual on it at all times. But it's not an excuse. So they broke the rule on lookouts too.

Assuming the freighter crew never even know the GB was there, it's hard to imagine how they would be expected to make passing arrangements with it via sound signals or radio, so I'm not faulting them there.

It's just a fact of life that a big freighter crew will have trouble keeping track of all the little boats buzzing around them. So if you're on a small vessel going that slow in a commercial channel, you have a higher obligation to keep proper lookout. To yourself and your crew, if not technically by any rule.

I wonder, assuming the GB had their radio on, why they never heard this ship making arrangements with other vessels. Generally you get a feel for who's around you if you listen for a while. Radar would also have helped, knowing they had a blind spot behind.

I'd have the same blind spot running from my lower helm. Which is why I've only run from the flybridge so far.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:15 PM   #20
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My monk 36 had the same aft visibility issue. It always bugged me. I drove regularly from the lower helm but when doing so I constantly was craning my neck around looking through the small back window, opening the side window immediately next to the helm and looking aft as I poked my head out, etc. Our 45 has pretty much the same limited visibility aft from the pilothouse as does pretty much every boat with a lower helm. If I do a long trip I think an AIS is mandatory equipment...can't put a price on safety as the end of that article said.
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