Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up? - Page 5 - SailNet Community
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post #41 of 53 Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

In the many years of sailing on San Francisco Bay, which has lots of commercial traffic, I can't remember ever seeing any ships or tugs even resemble a course change. We waited too long to start the motor after loosing the wind and were nearly run down by a tanker, no 5 blasts, not any sign they ever saw us.

Don't know anything about your area but would be surprised if any commercial vessel would even blink before running you down. Colregs may be interesting to read about
but in real life they don't matter.

Paul T
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post #42 of 53 Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

Based on that ships history that I viewed, they appear to average around 10 kn. through their routes.

IF this was within the St Mary's VTS ( which is on the charts) the US Coast Guard is the Authority. Since no position's or proximities were given it's difficult to know where the ships were relative to each other. However, it does appear to me that there's a couple of turns that Ship would need to make when approaching the " confluence point" .

I gathered from the OP that they had rounded Whitefish Point and were in Whitefish bay?
That appears to be withinin the VTS zone..where large ship traffic is seperated ( inbound and outbound). The distances and courses are charted for the most part, as are the limits of the traffic seperation scheme. The best way without AIS or Radar to determine collision courses it to maintain constant speed, constant heading..and see what the bearing is over time.

Monitor channel 12 & 13 in addition to 16. ( according to their User's guide.)

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post #43 of 53 Old 10-07-2013
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
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It is just wrong, imprudent and dangerous to think you need to stay out of their way.
I couldn't disagree more. You MUST have intended to put a "NOT" between "dangerous" and "to think". While the Rules do specify the responsibility of the "stand on" vessel, no where in the Rules does it say you should've use common sense. Small boat skippers must assume that big ships are not as maneuverable as they are and that common sense dictates you should stay out of their way. That said....

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One thing, though, is to realise they can't work out what you are doing easily, so Minnes 10 degree change of course would not have registered at all. For them to see it try 40 or 50 degrees. Hold that for a few mins then come slowly back to the correction you want.
Couldn't agree more. When "messing" around with big ships make every move early and very obvious. Big course changes are the order of the day.

One of the very nice features of AIS is that once you designate a contact for tracking, the system will tell you if he's changed his rudder angle. On more than one occasion I've "communicated" with an overtaking merchant ship using rudder angle alone. E.g., he's approaching from several miles astern and the CPA is a hundred yards or so. When he's a mile and a half or so away with little or no change in the CPA I will alter course 20-30 deg. to open the CPA. I watch his rudder angle and very often I see him turn opposite of my course change to open the CPA even further. Five or ten minutes pass and we both resume our original courses. No need for a radio call...he could see what I was doing....me likewise. If at any point in this "silent dance" it is not clear what's happening, I'm on the radio and we work it out...usually with me volunteering to stay out of his way.

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But as I said in the original post, the photo shows a huge clearence. I would be very comfortable at that passing distance.
Mark
I'd agree the photo shows a very acceptable passing distance. Probably the most useful feature of AIS is knowing what the CPA is when you're still a mile or more apart. At two miles a 400 yard CPA can appear (visually) like its going to be much closer.

When big ships are a long way off (several miles) it's often very hard to judge the relative motion. The change in bearing often doesn't become obvious until you're closer to them.

All that's been said about trying to figure out where they're going and why they may be altering course as they are is good. You shouldn't think they're "messing" around. If professional mariners mess around they put their license, and therefore their livelihoods at risk.
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post #44 of 53 Old 10-07-2013
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

Late to this thread but glad I visited it. Some good pointers on using marinetraffic.com and using rudder angle of a contact on AIS to learn his actions early.

The keys to these encounters are predictability and control.

Communications/understanding real world or charted restrictions and limits (points of confluence)/using AIS if available/using Seattle Traffic - are all about predictability. If predictability is high and your track is clear of obstructions and traffic you are golden. Mark's photo of NY Harbor is a case in point...taking those large vessels close aboard is not risky because their actions are predictable. That's true for the approaches to most large harbors including Singapore/Hong Kong/Tokyo if you do your homework.

Most of our actions when we get a bit uneasy about an encounter with traffic involve UNpredictability.

When you can't get predictability and you are uneasy about traffic you should maneuver to avoid - early if possible - whether you are "stand on" or not. Nothing in the rules prohibit you from taking action to minimize risk of collision...in fact you are obliged to do so.

When you choose to maneuver your purpose is to open the CPA and the way you do that is to by increasing the rate at which the bearing of the contact of your interest is changing. If you can make her true bearing from you change faster you will open the CPA.

Any non-zero rate of bearing change means you will miss her.

If you need time to make a decision on how to maneuver then put the contact abaft your beam to limit the closing speed.

If both your bows are on the same side of the line of bearing you can maneuver to the opposite side to place your bow on the other side. You CANNOT HIT a contact whose bow is on the opposite side of the line of bearing from yours if you are both making way and neither of you maneuver.

If both your bows are on the same side of the line of bearing and you want to keep your bow on that side of the line of bearing...and the rate of bearing change is too low/zero for your comfort ... you can either go in front of the contact by raising your speed across the line of bearing by increasing your speed/placing the contract closer to your beam (or both)...or you can go behind her by lowering your speed across the line of bearing by slowing and/or turning toward the line of bearing (either toward the contact or away from the contact).

I know. tl;dr...

And perhaps I'm just restating concepts all of you know. But it never hurts to review when safety is at stake...

Be prudent.

The web makes everywhere the same place. - Fred Reed, from "Fred on Everything"
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post #45 of 53 Old 10-07-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

I looked back at our GPS track and I think the freighter was slowly maneuvering around Whitefish Point. This was the first time I had been near such a big boat and I didn't realize that it was probably 8nm away when I first spotted it. That would put it back near the point and it was probably just slowly adjusting course to the south as it rounded the point.

I guess my lessons are that A) those giant boats are a lot further away than they look so chill the heck out, and B) if you are going to change course make it big and bold.
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post #46 of 53 Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

Ships on the Great Lakes follow prescribed routes called Lake Carrier Courses. They are printed on every chart and freighters rarely deviate from them.

Coming out of the locks on an upbound course, a freighter would head almost directly north showing you their port side. After a mile they would turn more to port to round Isle Parisienne so you'd see them head on about six miles away. Once abeam of the island they would again alter course, to starboard this time, for their heading to whitefish point. I'm sure they were watching you but I sincerely doubt they would play games with you or intentionally initiate the dance of death. Take a look at the lake carrier courses. Great Lake ships basically follow train tracks. Stay off those course lines and you don't have to worry about a thing.
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post #47 of 53 Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnesail View Post
I guess my lessons are that A) those giant boats are a lot further away than they look so chill the heck out, and B) if you are going to change course make it big and bold.
I agree with others, the boat was unlikely to be messing with you. Not worth the time/effort/risk.

I guess I would take out different lessons, at least in a general situation.

A) those giant boats are a lot further away than they look so chill the heck out (and recognize that anything that big close to you will always be scary).

B) BUT they go FAST and can sneak up on you, so keep a close lookout.

C) Assume large cargo vessels are totally oblivious - or uncaring - of you. Doesn't matter about COLREGS if they are on autopilot, or never see you, or simply don't care. Just avoid them.
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post #48 of 53 Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

If those freighters are traveling at speed it won't be much more than 20 minutes from first sighting to being beside you if there's going to be a convergence. We have ferries travelling at 22-24 knots and they come up real fast. Thankfully they are on a fairly predictable route.

Ron

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".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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post #49 of 53 Old 01-17-2014
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post #50 of 53 Old 01-17-2014
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Re: Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?

So there is a whole book dedicated to avoiding large ships. Who knew?

And it sells for $200 used and up to $1,500 new.

Tim R.
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1997 Caliber 40LRC

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