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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-24-2002 01:38 PM
First things First

What about takeing a bearing and then
trying radio comm? I sail alot at night and find this works well. Most of my encounters are with fishing boats though.

Dennis L.
01-09-2002 05:54 PM
First things First

Any port in a storm, Bporter. If you don''t have a compass handy, your lining up things at least gives you an idea of your relative bearings -- which is what you need to know. It doesn''t help to know that the guy that hit you was going from port to starboard because you saw a green light, or from starboard to port because you saw a red. If you see the bearing isn''t changing, you know to alter course and avoid the collision, regardless of what color lights you see.
01-05-2002 12:34 PM
First things First

In re: the taking a bearing in a bouncing small vessel.

You don''t have to get an exact compass reading to do a safety check. If you can line up two fixed items on your boat(e.g. a shroud and a winch) onto the lights so you have three marks in a row, you can very easily take a "bearing" without digging out the compass. Try to line up the three items again in a couple of minutes (Shroud, winch, light). If you can do it again, think about starting evasive maneuvers.

Somebody jump all over me if I''m wrong here, but this is how I generally check withgout a handbearing compass handy.
01-05-2002 12:10 PM
First things First

In restricted visibility, the first light you see could be the stern light of a 1000 foot tanker making a wide turn to starboard. Since you''ve determined that it''s a white light and you don''t see the running lights, it''s heading away from you, so, no worries, eh? Of course it''s up so high (how high up is it, anyway?) it could be a masthead range light (they''re white too, aren''t they?) So you stick you head below to check Chapman''s to be sure, as their stern swings sideways into you. Please take a bearing, repeatdely, regardless of what color the light is.
01-01-2002 07:09 PM
First things First

The color of light is sometimes altered by temperature variations, mists and fog layers just above the sea surface, apparent refraction of lights at the horizon splitting the color into spectral shifts, the age of the viewer (older people can have difficulty in seeing reds.) For me personally most lights that come up over the horizon, seem red at first ; probably due to refraction ... ships, lighthouses, bouy lights, etc. - my eyes sees them as red first; maybe the red component is easier to see at long distance - dunno. The advice of immediately taking a compass bearing is well warranted.
01-01-2002 06:16 PM
First things First

I know this is a reeeelly old post., but I was intrigued. It is an important question, but was fouled up from the start. The first three words of the question seemed to me to be completely overlooked, "upon seeing lights". Seems to me the instant reaction from 99.9% of anyone would be to recognize what color the light is, and take the appropriate action after that.
06-08-2001 07:48 AM
First things First

To all,
Determining if a collision course exist requires compass bearings. Seeing a ship or small boats running lights only tell you their direction of travel. Lights give you no indication of speed or distance off. Since it takes at least two bearings to determine if a collision course exist, when a ship/boat is spotted, take the bearing. Then everyone can discuss which way the sighting is traveling. When the next bearing is taken, you''ll know who was right.
Tom S.
06-06-2001 10:35 AM
First things First

Take a bearing and if it doesn''t change you are on a collision course. Right of way doesn''t mean anything if your involved in a collision with a ship .... you lose and the court settles with your heirs.
06-05-2001 12:53 PM
First things First

Somehow, we''ve slipped into talking about running lights as tho'' they are the key indicator re: potential collision with ships. As was just stated, running lights ''disappear'' on some large ships, especially cruise ships or ships with many working lights.

The key indicator for the potential collision with a ship is its range lights: they are high up, not confused with work lights, and give an immediate indication of approx. direction of travel. OTOH, when you must depend on running lights, the vessel is usually moving more slowly (e.g. sailboat under sail) and time isn''t so critical.

When ALL lights are difficult to see due to decreased viz, we discover the primary reason in this GPS age for having radar: target detection, electronically.

06-04-2001 06:34 PM
First things First

Wish more people would read this. Poll is now at more than 900 takers, and 45% are still trying to find the running lights. By the time they find them, they may find green 40'' to port of them, red 40'' to starboard, and a bow wave as high as their spreaders. At 18 knots, it shouldn''t take a ship more than about 15 minutes to come up over your visible horizon (and much less in limited visibility) and be on you. Jack makes a good point that you should try to get as much information in as quickly as possible. Looking for running lights after or while taking a bearing can be useful. But it is dangerous to waste time trying to find running lights first.

Perhaps many of the respondents haven''t had the opportunity to cross another vessel in the rain half way through a dark midnight watch. I''ve seen passenger liners at sea at night with strings of multicolored lights rigged from bow to masthead to stack to stern, each lit porthole bigger than what actually turned out to be the running lights. Perhaps while they''re looking for the right-colored lights in their "proper" places, these sailors will recall the tanker off the East Coast that was advised by the Coast Guard that they had what looked to be a dead 40 ton whale caught on their bow. No one on the ship had felt them hit anything.
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