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Old 11-14-2014, 07:17 AM   #1
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School of hard knocks

I am new to this cruising game and on a regular basis I learn a new lesson in the school of hard knock. Wednesday we were cruising north on the Alligator River Pungo canal. We had just passed under the Fairfield Bridge. About 2miles up the canal were three sailboats in a line heading south. As they closed at about ĺ of a mile the 2nd sailboat decides to pass the first. The sailboat that was being overtaken didn’t slow and the passing boat gave them a wide berth. This forced me to slow to idle and move over as far as I could. Well I probably hit a stump while I was pushed out of the channel. The woman driving the sailboat was oblivious as she chatted with her mates and gave the other sailboat much more room than it needed. I now have a vibration in my starboard gear train and can actually see a small vibration in the stern tube at 1600 rpm. Boat speed isn’t affected. Best case I bent a prop. Worst case my shaft is bent.
Lesson learned, I will never be that accommodating again. I will hail other boats immediately when these situations occur.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:28 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear this. I have had similar experiences, only once with a prop getting nicked. I have learned to use the horn early and insistently.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:33 AM   #3
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I am new to this cruising game and on a regular basis I learn a new lesson in the school of hard knock. Wednesday we were cruising north on the Alligator River Pungo canal. We had just passed under the Fairfield Bridge. About 2miles up the canal were three sailboats in a line heading south. As they closed at about ĺ of a mile the 2nd sailboat decides to pass the first. The sailboat that was being overtaken didnít slow and the passing boat gave them a wide berth. This forced me to slow to idle and move over as far as I could. Well I probably hit a stump while I was pushed out of the channel. The woman driving the sailboat was oblivious as she chatted with her mates and gave the other sailboat much more room than it needed. I now have a vibration in my starboard gear train and can actually see a small vibration in the stern tube at 1600 rpm. Boat speed isnít affected. Best case I bent a prop. Worst case my shaft is bent.

Lesson learned, I will never be that accommodating again. I will hail other boats immediately when these situations occur.
I have been forced out of the channel myself more than once but never had any damage. Each time I swear I'll never do it again but it's a natural reaction to avoid a collision.

The other thing I've noticed is, when trying to hail these boats, they most often don't respond to VHF calls or even horn signals. I have an extra loud two trumpet electric horn but even that doesn't work. Sometimes I think the boat must be on autopilot.

I'm glad you posted what you did, it's a warning for all of us.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:51 AM   #4
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Communicate, communicate, communicate!
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:53 AM   #5
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Very sorry to hear that hoping it is just a prop job
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:06 AM   #6
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I had the same experience as described and did, in fact, bend a prop. Now If I am being crowded on the 1-whistle side, I communicate this and cross to the 2-whistle side.

Others have complained, but I find that as they don't share in my repair bill, they have absolutely zero say. I am NOT aggressive, but assertive when need be.

Larger commercial boats/tugs, etc get all the maneuvering room they need/want.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:08 AM   #7
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Near the same place a large tug and tow forced me over and I bumped, but the full keel did it's thing.

If in the same situation again, go to idle or even neutral a different immediately and try to make contact. Take a pic if you or crew can, video better.

If unable in a few seconds, make a call on 16 stating you have slowed or stopped and they are putting you in danger and briefly describe why. Hopefully the USCG radio system will record it. Start sounding the danger/doubt signal as soon as possible (continuous short blasts).

It's better if the blasts are during your radio transmission so they can be heard in the background unless too loud.

If I have to clear the channel, better to be slow and go bow first leaving the props in deeper water (if possible).

My guess is you bow looks massive as most sailboats on the ICW can't be too big cause of mast height, I think if you lay the horn with the danger/doubt signal, hard to imagine them not falling back know in line.
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Old 11-14-2014, 09:42 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=rwidman;283649]I have been forced out of the channel myself more than once but never had any damage. Each time I swear I'll never do it again but it's a natural reaction to avoid a collision.

The other thing I've noticed is, when trying to hail these boats, they most often don't respond to VHF calls or even horn signals. I have an extra loud two trumpet electric horn but even that doesn't work. Sometimes I think the boat must be on autopilot.

More likely on "dumbpilot"
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:04 AM   #9
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I had a trawler (bigger than mine and headed toward me) take the very center of a narrow canal on the AICW north of Charleston, SC. I called on the VHF, no response. I sounded the danger signal several times. No response. I sounded the danger signal on my portable air horn. No response. And of course he was trailing a wake so that when I pulled out of the channel and slowed to idle he rocked me pretty good.

Short of a shotgun, I don't know what to do with these people.
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:51 AM   #10
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My intent for the call and the whistle is more for documentation by the USCG just in case it ever goes further than a bad passing.

Sure some aren't paying attention, some don't know any better, some don't care and even some of the people feeling pushed over are not all that perceptive.

While things are sometimes bad...being to nice isn't the answer.

Then there are times grounding beats the alternative such as a dredge and trailing 1000 feet of pipe give you no choice.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:25 AM   #11
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This is a case where a really good horn makes a difference. I have been in the same situation in a narrow channel. Two sailboats trying to pass abreast, taking up the whole channel. Horns are pneumatic, running off a pancake compressor in engine room, 90psi. Pull the air valve partially, it sounds a mild tone. No response from sailboats. I slow to dead idle, hold course as I have no intention of running aground. Next, repeat full blasts, no stoppin until I see the sailboat altering, which he eventually did.

The key is that horn is extremely loud and impossible for a sailboat to ignore. There is something psychological about how loud the horn is.

Regarding tows in narrow channels, I have turned around and run ahead of them in order to avoid a pass. Fortunately I knew there was a duck-in spot about half mile back, so it was no big deal.

Alligator/Pungo canal is a bad spot. Center of channel is not always centered between banks. That can throw someone off. Got to be careful there.
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:10 PM   #12
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I try and never be forced out of the channel. You, as captain are supposed to everything reasonable to avoid a collision. I have crossed over a bow to get someone's attention. I find by moving VERY noticeably is needed at times. I always try port to port, but if I have to, I will cross them on the starboard side. I usually have a few "hand signals" as I pass! I have actually stopped in a channel, because I knew there was only 2 feet of water waiting for me. There is no cure for stupid!
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:18 PM   #13
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:40 PM   #14
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You, as captain are supposed to do everything reasonable to avoid a collision
This is True. There is no excuse for a collision and should be avoided at all costs.

BUT... I will NOT ground my vessel, due to the actions of another.
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:51 PM   #15
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I now have a vibration in my starboard gear train and can actually see a small vibration in the stern tube at 1600 rpm.
You might not want to run that shaft and prop until you can get the boat hauled or dove on to determine the cause of the problem. Continuing to use the starboard engine could make matters worse.

If your boat handles okay on one engine, it might be prudent to tie off the starboard shaft (if necessary-- it is on our boat) and continue on one until you can get to a yard you want to use. You can always start up the starboard engine (remembering to untie the shaft if you've tied it up) and use both engines for slow-speed maneuvering.
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Old 11-14-2014, 05:07 PM   #16
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Thanks for the advice Marin. I may do that for the last 100 miles up the Chesapeake home. I can run on one engine and allow the Velvet Drive S7000 series free-wheel. Not looking forward to the haul out.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:49 PM   #17
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Sorry about the penalty for your accommodating boatmanship, Dave. It could have been the same for me, ...probably would have been.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:52 PM   #18
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............ Regarding tows in narrow channels, I have turned around and run ahead of them in order to avoid a pass. Fortunately I knew there was a duck-in spot about half mile back, so it was no big deal..
Getting out of the way of a tug and barge or tow that is wide enough to take up most of the channel is expected and good seamanship. Often, if you monitor channel 16 and 13 you will hear their warnings.

Being forced out of the channel by some nimrod operating a pleasure boat and not responding to radio and horn warnings is something we shouldn't have to put up with.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:54 PM   #19
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We are on our last 2 days of our migration from CT to Stuart FL. After running for over 1,400 miles, I am stunned by the number of boats that either don't turn on their VHF radios or do not respond when you try to communicate. I am also amazed by the number of boats with their names obscured by dinghies hanging over them, have no names, or names that are illegible or unpronounceable. There are times I have been reduced to turning on the loud hailer. Oh well.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:57 PM   #20
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Saw a near collision on this same canal a month ago. I was south bound with a line on sailboats and trawlers when two 50 plus foot go fast yachts came blasting and weaving through the line of slower boats. When they approached the Fairfield bridge the first boat went around a Albin 36 at a modest speed and passed under the bridge. The second yacht sped up to get ahead of the trawler and through the bridge to keep up with his buddy. The trawler yelled on channel 16 for the yacht slow and allow him to pass since he was entering the fenders of the bridge. Fortunately for all concerned the yacht did yield and the trawler passed safely. The yelling on the VHF worked. Met the Albin that night in Belhaven and he said it was a close call and very unnerving for them. Moral of the story, the Alligator/ Pungo canal requires careful navigation. Many tugs with barges past through this canal also.
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