Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Arlington, VA
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Re: MMSI into Icom IC-M504
No, I'm not suggesting you wait for an emergency. Nor am I suggesting that you waste time trying to contact the ship via VHF radio. Rather, that you exercise prudent seamanship.
On the Delaware River and Delaware Bay, e.g., the easiest way to stay clear of big ships is to navigate outside the channel where they can't go. This is a very feasible strategy I've used many times.
If it turns out that for some reason you must be in deep water, then watch the approaching ship carefully. If his relative bearing doesn't change, then you are on a collision course. CHANGE YOUR COURSE to stay clear. Don't worry about trying to call him or signal him. Just get out of his way.
You don't have to travel very far to do that. Even VLCCs, the largest oil carriers afloat, have beams of only 200 feet. That means that you could avoid collision by moving a couple hundred feet to one side of his course. How long does it take to do that, even in a slow-moving sailboat? Not very long. Even if you're only moving at a speed of one knot, you can move 200 feet in just one minute.
But, you shouldn't be anywhere near that close anyway. And, you won't be if you pay attention to what's around you, using the best navigational tool of all: the Mark One eyeball. Keep your head out of the computer, the iPhone, iPad, AIS display, etc. Look around you. Any collision potential from a large ship will be immediately visible.
In fog, use radar as well as your eyes and ears and, if you have it, AIS. I've transited the Delaware from the C&D Canal to Cape May several times in very thick fog. No problem, and no danger of collision. Just stay out of the channel when you can (most of the time), and keep your eyes and ears and radar peeled.