Skipper dies after SV rammed by large MV in LI fog - SailNet Community

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Old 06-24-2003
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Skipper dies after SV rammed by large MV in LI fog

Now it would be a mistake to totally take everything from the NY Post article (link below)

http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/36963.htm .

....I know none of us were there and we probably will never know what "really" happened.

Big question is. Why didn''t the Motoryacht see the sailboat on the Radar? The Motorboat DEFINITELY had radar (if it was working that is) and most sailboats I know would show up on my regular ole RL70CRC radar with or without a Radar reflector .

There is plenty of metal on even a fiberglass sailboat to see it on radar, especially with an aluminum mast and engine (did he have a carbon fiber mast). I can see little wooden rowing dories on my radar, even see big seagulls , though these are not usually a really strong signal. But anyone decent with reading radar can see almost all sailboats, unless designed by the US Aiforce like the Stealth Bomber

Who knows who had a proper lookout. If that fog was that bad it might have been useless, but with your engine off you probably could hear a motorboat, but not know what direction it was. One fact that I feel is probably going to be found to be useless is whether the sailboat was sounding it horn once every 2 minutes or not. With an enclosed helm and engine running and 120 seconds between a blast, its very unlikely the big Motoryacht heard anything. Wonder if the Motoryacht was sounding its fog horn?...

This is just me, but ... With or w/o Radar, I''d be on the VHF (Ch 13 and 16) often updating who could hear me where my location was.

Too many questions. Who had radar? What was speeds and directions? Did sailboat have engine on? Did boats have Fog horns going (as per Colregs 35....which I think is almost inadequate)? Did either boat see the other one before accident ? (Maybe alter course last minute?)...etc, etc.

As in most of these instances, fault will be found on both sides, its just at what percentages?

But I have to say it again....The big Motoryacth had radar. Why didn''t it use it and give the sailboat lots of leeway???
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Old 06-24-2003
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Skipper dies after SV rammed by large MV in LI fog

IMHO that the MV very likely has his radar set up to eliminate clutter, which would include dinghies, seagulls and most sailboats. A 120 foot MV is on Long Island Sound is concerned about tugs with tows in the middle of the night, not sailboats. I believe conditions that night were VERY foggy and wet- with no wind - stagnant and still, so with engines going it is very likely neither boat heard much in the way of engine noise or sound signals. I raced against Joachim in Solings and volunteered along with him at a MOB seminar for Junior sailors at Larchmont last summer. He will be missed.
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Skipper dies after SV rammed by large MV in LI fog

paulk,

I don''t know what happened but that would be a LOUSY excuse on the MV part. And tuning a radar so only to see large vessels like tugs and barges would be just plain stupid .

Not to sound harsh, but do you have radar? Do you use it? I do (raytheon RL70CRC) and its very easy to eliminate clutter & noise but still pick up sailboats very easily. even at miles away, and its just a simple 2kw entry radar unit.... The radars, at least on the ones today, have all sorts of filtering functions that work very well. I am far from a radar expert and I can keep the clutter out and rain, but still be able to pick up small sailboats very well

Maybe the MV had a very old radar system that doesn''t filter and work well. I don''t know, but they should be professionals on board and be able to use their equipment properly.

ps. I am NOT saying this was the problem...as I said, this is all conjecture at this point
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Old 06-25-2003
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Skipper dies after SV rammed by large MV in LI fog

The boat was on autopilot and the captain was below sleeping? (although "lookouts" were on deck it doesn''t sound like the vessel was under command). In extremely dense fog? That''s what the article says anyway. Nevertheless, some of the blame I''m sure belongs to the motoryacht.

Last year, on 3 occasions, I came closer than I would have liked to other vessels in the fog. Each time, I had operating radar and a radar reflector, and was blowing my foghorn every 20 seconds or so. In each case I knew there were other vessels nearby, but wasn''t quite sure where. I think that the reverse was also true as the other vessels had slowed to bare steerage way.

Several points should be made:

1. It''s not always easy, especially for those with basic radar sets and a lack of experience and training (my case as I just installed the radar last year), to determine whether the target seen is on a collision course or not, and how to avoid that, particularly if you are maneuvering at the time. What the radar does tell you is there is something out there.

2. A large motor vessel, as this was, needs to move at probably 5-6 knots to maintain steerage way. They are also hard to maneuver. If you change course at the wrong time you may cause a collision rather than prevent one. He may see you on radar and be trying to avoid; then if you''re confused about where he is or the direction he''s going (easy to have happen if you misjudge the direction of his fog horn or misread your radar) you may turn in the wrong direction right into his path.

3. In none of the cases did I hear the other vessel before seeing it. Of course they had slowed down so their engines weren''t making much noise. In two cases I was under sail alone. A lot depends on wind direction and the noise from waves.

3. The motor vessel on June 20 should have had a lookout forward. Of course if the sailboat wasn''t blowing it''s foghorn that might not have given enough time to maneuver unless it was first seen on radar.

4. The direction from which a foghorn is blowing is difficult to ascertain. If there are many vessels around, it becomes extremely confusing. Everyone slows down, but there''s still a lot of risk, particularly if one of the vessels is large and loses steerage way at lower speeds.

5. Pleasure boat radar close to a large vessel loses its direction sensing capability due to side lobes. This happens when looking at a large ship at 1/4 to 1/2 mile (presumably somewhat less with the 120 foot motor yacht). Just when you need to know where the other vessel is, you see a circle of dots, all at the same range, all of the way around the screen. It''s very disconcerting.

The answer is to learn how to use your radar effectively to avoid collisions. Practice with something like the Starpath Radar Trainer.

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