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Old 03-04-2018, 02:18 PM   #1
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Collision! What if?

OK, another vessel (40' Searay(?)) missed hitting me by less than 2' last week.

I was really shook up but relieved he missed me. Close calls are great learning experiences and I've given a lot of thought on avoiding similar situations.

Here's what happened: In an urban no-wake zone, Naples, Florida, I got trapped between a steel day mark and an oncoming vessel, with wind setting us both toward the day mark. 30-40 yard wide channel.

I believe that the captain of the oncoming vessel, seated starboard in his lower helm, was only focused on a very small and very slow rental, which was traveling in his direction, only 10-15' ahead of him. As I had just committed to pass the day mark to my starboard, with only 5-8' to spare, he decided to overtake the rental on his starboard side. Now, I had ZERO room to spare due to his maneuver and the wind. No time for a horn or anything!

I thought sure he had me but we somehow missed, probably because I turned full to port the instant his stern was going by. Not sure if he ever did anything to avoid me because I was too busy looking for an escape.

Anyway, no crash!!! A true miracle. It was sooo close, certainly less than 2'.

If if anything like this ever happens again I'm likely going to simply stop the boat before getting trapped. The guy behind me had better be alert, and I'll sound 3 blasts, but it's either that or taking my chances on the wrong side of the ATON.

I understand that "it takes 2 to tango".

OK, now the question:

What should I have done if there was a collision?
1) Assess condition of passengers.
2) regain situational awareness (any other dangerous vessels or obstacles?)
3) check for any hull breech
4) pan-pan VHF message (or may-day, if applicable)
5) get in touch with the other vessel, probably by VHF

I've had a lot of training (but less than 1,000 hours as captain) but I don't recall being taught about what to do. I guess most of it should be obvious but I'm interested in learning.

Thanks for your comments!
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:19 PM   #2
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boating is like chess...with weather, wind and waves.

as the pieces move, they dont always stay in the square they were minute ago.

as a boating instructor and instructor pilot, you have to be keen on how far things go till you take over, same for any captain for the most part being squeezed in a situation like yours.

You have to see potential hazardous situations before they develope. Like some chucklehead deciding to pass when you were squeezed by a mark.

Cant say for sure in your situation, but over the last few weeks in narrow, busy ICW areas, I have turned towards a slower vesselif it looked like that vessel was going to be passed by an impatient boater behind them....thus cutting off the narrow passing area way ahead of any upcoming obstructions.

Again its just more feel than a rock solid suggestion...but it works if you dont mind pissing off the chuckleheads.
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Old 03-04-2018, 04:00 PM   #3
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RC,
Glad to read you did not get hit! I agree, next time hit the horn early. Better to be noticed and scowled at then lose room to maneuver. And most of the time I get a wave back of acknowledgement. I "practice" with the horn when leaving the marina and entering the channel so I know it works and muscle memory for where the button is. Backup freon for mate on deck, in case mate sees something before I do.

As to whether to come to a stop, for me that is a case-by-case basis. It means giving up some ability to maneuver vs. trying to buy clearance/space.

I used to road race motorcycles at very high speeds and close quarters with no incident, but how boats can get in each other's way at 8 knots still catches me out once in a while. Dingys in harbor are the worst.

My boat got hit last spring at the dock and I wasn't even on it! Guy lost propulsion, bounced off me and near-totaled the boat just behind mine.
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Old 03-06-2018, 07:54 AM   #4
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FIVE horn blasts according to rules of the road signal danger
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Old 03-06-2018, 08:13 AM   #5
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Right, 5 blasts for danger, but I was referring to 3 blasts when suddenly stopping boat, as I'd be giving stern propulsion.

Gotta paint that switch orange or red so I can hit it fast!
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Old 03-06-2018, 08:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclarke246 View Post
OK, another vessel (40' Searay(?)) missed hitting me by less than 2' last week.

I was really shook up but relieved he missed me. Close calls are great learning experiences and I've given a lot of thought on avoiding similar situations.

Here's what happened: In an urban no-wake zone, Naples, Florida, I got trapped between a steel day mark and an oncoming vessel, with wind setting us both toward the day mark. 30-40 yard wide channel.

I believe that the captain of the oncoming vessel, seated starboard in his lower helm, was only focused on a very small and very slow rental, which was traveling in his direction, only 10-15' ahead of him. As I had just committed to pass the day mark to my starboard, with only 5-8' to spare, he decided to overtake the rental on his starboard side. Now, I had ZERO room to spare due to his maneuver and the wind. No time for a horn or anything!

I thought sure he had me but we somehow missed, probably because I turned full to port the instant his stern was going by. Not sure if he ever did anything to avoid me because I was too busy looking for an escape.

Anyway, no crash!!! A true miracle. It was sooo close, certainly less than 2'.

If if anything like this ever happens again I'm likely going to simply stop the boat before getting trapped. The guy behind me had better be alert, and I'll sound 3 blasts, but it's either that or taking my chances on the wrong side of the ATON.

I understand that "it takes 2 to tango".

OK, now the question:

What should I have done if there was a collision?
1) Assess condition of passengers.
2) regain situational awareness (any other dangerous vessels or obstacles?)
3) check for any hull breech
4) pan-pan VHF message (or may-day, if applicable)
5) get in touch with the other vessel, probably by VHF

I've had a lot of training (but less than 1,000 hours as captain) but I don't recall being taught about what to do. I guess most of it should be obvious but I'm interested in learning.

Thanks for your comments!
Glad it worked out for the best for you ..... respectfully, are you you using the term " Captain " loosely ? IMO, just because one is at the helm of a small boat, it does not qualify one to be or be called a Captain ....... fb
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Old 03-06-2018, 09:07 AM   #7
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Yes, I was informally using the term "Captain"...
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:17 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by soggy View Post
FIVE horn blasts according to rules of the road signal danger
Correct but,

1) Most stock boat horns can't be heard far enough away to be effective. If yours is one of these, switch it out to something really loud or buy one of the portable canned air horns and keep it within reach at all times.

2) The knucklehead that's headed your way may not be paying attention or even running on auto pilot. Even if he is at the helm, it's going to take him/her a certain amount of time to realize what the signal is and why you are signaling. And they, he or she has to decide what to do and actually do it.

I think the safest thing to do is to have the frame of mind that the other guy doesn't know what he is doing and be prepared to take evasive action yourself.
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:48 AM   #9
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Remember that the danger signal is 5 or more short blasts. You dont have to stop at 5. You can keep going if you need to in order to get the other skippers attention. You should also alter course if necessary even if you are the stand on boat. You should do whatever is needed to prevent a collision. You dont want to be dead right...
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:06 AM   #10
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Along with the above advice of lots of horn (hand air horn) did you try to hail him on VHF Ch 16?
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:07 AM   #11
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First make sure you and your passengers are safe, make sure the passengers are safe then save your boat, if possible.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:12 AM   #12
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A lot of advice on after the fact stuff, some may work or not.

Some situations are like flying into a box canyon, you are screwed if you dont recognize it and get out fast.

No real answer other than luck once you go past the point of no return.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:15 AM   #13
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Remember that the danger signal is 5 or more short blasts. ..
And remember that many people operating boats don't actually know that.

The point is to get his/her attention and hope they realize that they are in a dangerous situation and need to take action now.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:26 AM   #14
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heck, they dont even realize the situation they are creating.... so just an alert may result in nothing.

for me blowing 5 or more blasts has just resulted in apathy or insulting me...many times when towing.

most dont understand the different profiles of operating their boat and how it affects their wake.

thats why one needs to think 2 or 3 chess moves ahead when operating their boat.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:37 AM   #15
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I posted earlier that it's best to think the other guy will not know what he is doing.

Since I'm usually operating from the flybridge, once I get the person's attention, I can usually wave or point to get my warning across.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:44 AM   #16
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...thats why one needs to think 2 or 3 chess moves ahead when operating their boat.
Exactly! The problem you are in now should have been solved well before. Stay ahead of your vessel.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:08 PM   #17
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step one: strong steel boat
step two: very loud horn
step three: ...
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:11 PM   #18
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Along with the above advice of lots of horn (hand air horn) did you try to hail him on VHF Ch 16?
in all my encounters, there was no time before taking evasive action except sometimes a horn blast.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclarke246 View Post

What should I have done if there was a collision?
1) Assess condition of passengers.
2) regain situational awareness (any other dangerous vessels or obstacles?)
3) check for any hull breech
4) pan-pan VHF message (or may-day, if applicable)
5) get in touch with the other vessel, probably by VHF
Well #5 is moot. You're already "in touch".
1-4 yes.

FWIW. From 30 years in a power plant simulator throwing end-of-the-world scenarios at operating crews, these simple thumb rules usually get you out of bad spots:
1= Stop the damage. Use whatever training, tools and procedures available to you to stop going in the wrong direction.
2= Stabilize your condition. Hold wherever you are to get back under control and within safety limits. Assess what works and what doesn't. This might take a few seconds or a few hours.
3= Head back to normal. In a controlled manner, get back to normal safe parameters.
4= Call for help. It may be the end of the world or a nothingburger. Any first responder will tell you to make that call as soon as you can safely do so.
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:11 PM   #20
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Question: if not a dire situation, ( no flooding, injuries,etc)
1) should we try to exchange info over the VHF? My guess is that cell phone may be best if possible.
2) Should local authorities be hailed on 16?
3) Id get a visual on his registration if I could

I probably wouldnt want to raft up with a knucklehead...
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