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  #1  
Old 01-04-2006
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Cruising at Night

Has anybody else had this problem?

I am a Great Lakes sailor; primarily on Lake Michigan, who does quite a bit of cruising. Often we cruise at night. The Great Lakes have quite a bit of Freighter traffic.

My problems I''ve experinced occure on nights when out in the shipping lanes. The freighters are lit up like a small city, we can see them from miles away. However what we first see are deck lights, cabin lights, bridge lights, overhead lights, crane lights, etc........ nothing but white lights evrywhere. Like I said, a small city on the water.

Its very difficult to sight their nav lights, hence very difficult to determine thier course in comparision to our course.

The freighters in general run North and South on Lake Michigan: if we spot them on the Southern Horizon we know their general course to be North and vice versa.

I still have difficulties when approaching, and I always give them plenty of space.

It just seems hard for me to find thier nav lights with all the other white lights on board. Often times I do find the nav lights only after we have cleared each other.

Has anybody else had the same experince? Am I the only one?

Just curious,
Sailor Tim
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Old 01-04-2006
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Cruising at Night

I have contacted the frieghter on 16 - though they may monitor 13 (I think). I have gotten responses when we have been close. One of those million power spots helps too.

In certain situations can you determine wether the boat is in a northbound or southbound lane?

I am sure you do what I do - stay as far away as possible, but in close it can be hard to determine direction which is where identifying a shipping lane could help.

Where do you sail out of? I am located in Racine.
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Old 01-04-2006
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Cruising at Night

Irwin,
We sail out of Chicago: Monroe Harbor. We like to cruise the Michigan Shoreline. The boat is laid up in Holland.
If your interested in meeting up for a spring cruise, let me know. Pentwater? White Lake? South Manitou Anchorage? Its never too early to start planning. Are you going to the Strictly Sail Show?
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Old 01-04-2006
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Cruising at Night

I am going on Friday and will be working the Racine Yacht Club Booth from 5 - 8 pm, so if you are there at that time, drop by.

At this time I plan to leave Racine areound June 15 with plans to be in the North Channel (Little Current) by July 1. If any of that works out, it would be fun.

I have been down to Monroe a couple of times over the past few years. The city is so impressive from the lake. What are you sailing? I have a Nassau 34 - a cnoe stern traditional type cutter.
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Old 01-05-2006
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Cruising at Night

It would be great to meet and place a face with the name. We will be at the show on Friday also, I''ll stop by with my wife.
In fact, I would be interested in learning more about your harbor and club. I know that Racine has vastly improved since I was last there in the early 80''s. I''ve been meaning to get there for the past couple of years.

We sail a Beneteau 361, before that a Cal 25-II.
Good luck on the cruise to Lake Ontario; Love the cutter rigged boats.
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Old 02-25-2006
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Freighters @night

I am a solo sailor that does the GLSS Solo Challenge from Chicago to Mackinac Island annually. At night there really a challenge determining the direction of the big ships when they start off as a flashlight on the horizon. I have learned that the while lights on the top of the vessel will indicate its direction. If the vessel is goine in the same direction as you there will be one light that is the highest on the ship and one light that is the lowest. When the ship is sideways to yourself the highest white light is again at the top and a lower white light is to the front of the ship. This lower light indicates or rather points toward the direction the ship is traveling.
Hope this helps.

Mike
msosborn@msn.com
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Old 02-26-2006
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Think about radar

I'm not in the Great Lakes so my experience is a little different. However, on the Gulf Coast of Texas there are many offshore oil platforms which don't always correspond to the charts. And on a clear night, there are so many that it's difficult to tell where each rig is. As well, they're supposed to have signal horns but not all do and not all have lights. Having said that, one of my favorite trips is about 30 hours offshore from Port Aransas to Galveston. From the beginning, I've used radar at night as a matter of routine and it surely makes the dark hours a lot less stressful. By the way, we also have freighter traffic in the same area, some anchored, some underway, and lots of rig service boats that run at high speeds all hours of the day and night. Farther offshore I wouldn't need the radar but in close quarters it really works well. You might think about adding it to your boat.

Cheers,
Mark

Last edited by Mkfcdl; 02-26-2006 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 02-26-2006
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Thanks for the help,
Radar is diffinetley on our wish list.
We have been researching and pricing them out.
Aftica, I'll make sure I look as you directed on the next night time cruise.
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Old 02-27-2006
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Tim, what you describe is commonly found everywhere. Even small vessels engaged in fishing will often overwhelm their running lights with deck lights when working. The biggest offenders are the cruise ships; you would think a ship that is generating the lighting of a small city would find a way to make their running lights at least as bright as the lights illuminating the ship's name on the funnel(s) but they don't.

This is one reason why passive AIS is so attractive to so many of us; it provides a radar-like display of most nearby shipping (mandated for vessels 300T and larger) or plots the ships on your electronic nav chart. In either case, selecting a contact provides a data block that includes the ship's name, MMSI # (so you can 'direct dial' them on DSC VHF), and both course/speed and CPA info - more info than the radar will give you.

You'll find a number of threads on the AIS topic, as it's just emerging within the recreational boating community and isn't yet a turn-key feature offered by all the major marine electronics mfgrs. Visit Terry Sargeant's website to read how he's installed AIS capability on VALHALLA while cruising the E Pacific - http://www.yachtvalhalla.net/index1.htm - and also reading the lengthy thread with a number of home-brew arrangements at the SSCA Discussion Board - http://ssca.org/sscabb/index.php

Jack
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Old 02-28-2006
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I've been checking out Valhalla's page; very impressive.
AIS looks like a great way to go. More complete and informative than radar. Thanks for the information Woosh and Thanks to Terry Sargeant for sharing his experiences with everyone.
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