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post #4 of Old 09-10-2011
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Situation: 0200, local. 600 nm offshore US east coast bound Norfolk to Tortola. Skipper snug in his berth. Crew awakens skipper because, "There's a big ship coming over the horizon and we can't tell where its headed." Shake off the grog -- stumble to the cockpit. Yes, there is a big ship out there -- lights all over it, no sign of nav lights. Back below to look at the radar. Yes, a big ship out there -- range X.X, bearing XXX relative. Quick plot of BR's position on the paper chart. Run out the bearing and range. Determine target's position. Grab the VHF mic. Radio's on 16. Key the mic.

"This is sailing vessel Billy Ruff'n, Billy Ruff'n, WCZ 5291 calling the large commercial vessel at X Latitude, Y Longitude. I am the small sailing vessel bearing XXX degrees, range Y miles from your position. Requesting your course and speed. Over."

Approximately 2 seconds after I released the PTT button I heard:

"Billy Ruff'n, this is Queen Mary II. We are in transit from St. Thomas to New York, course is X, speed is Y, we have you on radar and in sight. Our CPA is 2.3 miles in approximately Z minutes. Over."

Somewhat overwhelmed, I replied:

"Roger that, Queen Mary II. As your navigational assets are far superior to mine and it's been a long time since I used a maneuvering board, I'll trust your CPA. Thank you, Captain. Have a safe trip. Billy Ruff'n, Out".

Shipmates, that's about as good as it gets at sea. At least until you get a transmit/recieve AIS in which case the above conversation would have been necessary. Nor would it have been necessary to wake the skipper because the system gives the watch standers all the data QM II relayed to us that night.

Buy an AIS and sleep well offshore.
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