Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Was the freighter messing with me, or did I mess up?
I don't have a lot of keelboat experience, and only one day of experience driving with big commercial traffic around me.
I'm wondering if I messed up my first encounter with a big boat, or if he was messing with me?
We're on Lake Superior heading east to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. After you round Whitefish Point and head south east everyone is going to be on pretty much the same course.
I spotted a boat on the horizon (the first one we'd seen in over 12 hours) and looked at it through the binoculars and saw that it was a giant freighter and that we were looking at it's starboard side. I even took a couple sightings with a hand-bearing compass to verify that it was going to pass on our port.
I took the helm and about twenty minutes later someone said "That boat is headed dead at us," and I turned around and sure enough we were looking straight down its bow.
It's probably still four miles away, maybe more, so we're not exactly in a collision situation. I realize that the rules of the road indicate that I'm the stand on vessel and should stay put. However, he's a long ways away and I don't want to make trouble, so I turn 10º to starboard, closer to shore, to stay out of his way. We watch, pretty soon we can see the freighter's starboard side again, all is good.
And then twenty minutes later.... Once more someone says "That boat is headed right at us again." So I turn another 10º towards the shore. We watch until we see the side of the freighter again.
And twenty minutes later... "Dude, that boat is following us! It's headed right at us again." At this point I'm baffled. This is my first time around big boats and I feel a little scared. The owner was below so I called him up and asked him what I should do. He said "Well if that boat keeps following us when we head towards shore, turn the other way and head out." So I went 20º to port.
I'm not sure, but I think the freighter may have headed a bit back towards us again! After another 10 minutes or so all 1000 feet of American Spirit passed about 100 yards to our starboard side.
So was I messing up by changing course at all? Since I was stand-on should I have just stayed put? Was I doing that thing where you try to pass someone in the hallway and you both keep moving to the same side?
Or is it possible the freighter was messing with me? I almost feel like he might have been bored and just wanted to see what we were.