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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.