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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 02-17-2008
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"Securite...Securite...Securite..."

I be interested in knowing how many of you out there make routine use of "Securite" calls when sailing in reduced visibility. On any given foggy summer day in Maine there are probably enough boats underway to fill the airwaves if everyone was making them.

You routinely hear tugs with tows, ferries and other commercial vessels make Securite calls when they are entering/operating in restricted channels or a major milestones in traffic separation schemes, but what, in your view, is the proper and practical practice for smaller vessels?

-----

Second question: What's the dumbest "Securite" call you've ever heard? Can you top this one I heard on a very foggy day in Maine last summer:

"Securite.....etc....This is m/v IMAIDIOT, postion X latitude, Y longitude, course 220, speed 28 knots, standing by on Channel 16, m/v IMAIDIOT out"
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Old 02-17-2008
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I'll bet M/V Imaidiot had just throttled back, too.

On, the Chesapeake, we don't often get fog during the normal boating season. As a rule, we rarely make or hear SECURITE broadcasts, except from the Coast Guard. We do frequently contact shipping traffic directly, usually to advise them of our intentions to pass astern of them if there is any doubt. They seem to appreciate this.

The last time I made a SECURITE call was for a HUGE deadhead that was floating in the main channel in Boston Harbor.
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Old 02-17-2008
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We get Securite calls around Toronto primarily from the larger "booze cruise" boats (small ships, really), that ply a restricted channel called the Western Gap, which connects Lake Ontario with Toronto Harbour. Usually they give a securite alerting people they will be leaving their berths in five minutes or whatever, and that they were about to enter the channel. As this channel on summer weekends is absolutely packed with everything from three-masted barques to kayakers, and is regularly crossed by a large ferry, this is probably prudent.

Imagine the channel to the right with two triple lanes of every manner of vessel. When they put naval vessels through there, they close it off to the general rabble:



I have issued a securite in fog going into the harbour, because even sounding a horn, I had real doubts if I could maneuver safely when confronted by a fast-moving police launch, for instance.
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Old 02-17-2008
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I've made a few Securité calls, mainly when finding partially submerged trees and such... In bad weather, I'll sometimes make one when entering or exiting the hurricane barrier, since most people aren't expecting a sailboat my size to be out in those conditions or be 18' wide.
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Old 02-17-2008
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When we did our delivery from Annapolis to Lake Champlain and were heading outbound on the Delaware River in Maine-like fog, we did Securité calls each time we passed another channel marker, announcing our arrival at that marker, and that we were traversing the outbound side of the channel, just outside the channel. We had several large ships thank us since it made it easier for them to communicate their intentions vs. unknown small craft calls... We also do them when there's a hazard to navigation. Lastly, when we lost our impeller last season and had to anchor outside a normal anchorage to fix it, and then noticed about 30 boats in a race (sail) bearing down on us - we did a few Securité calls at that time too!
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Old 02-17-2008
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I too never made much use of Securite calls. A few years ago, I was heading south on the Hudson river at night from Kingston to Tarrytown. I was coming to place on the river called Rogers Point. It is an place that the freighters anchor over night awaiting picking up an river pilot at 6 AM. It is kind of lazy S in the river.

There was a anchored freighter with all of it's deck lights lit looking like a small floating city. I was passing him on his port side about 15 yards off. when I got passed his stern the next thing I hear is is a large ships whistle. 5 blasts the danger single. There staring me down about 75 yards out was an 2nd freighter heading north under power into the anchorage. I did not (could not) see his range lights or nav lights until I was clear of the deck lights of the 1st anchored freighter. In turn I am sure, I did not show up as a radar return for the 2nd freighter until i cleared the 1st freighters stern. All I could do was make 90 turn across the bow of the 2nd freighter and head to skinny water. The whole thing was way to close for comfort. A encounter like this sure will wake you up in the middle of the night.

I now made use of Securite calls, especially at night. I give an position (i.e. buoy#, point of land, or some other fixed object) direction of travel, speed, and any other information that might be needed.

You would be surprised how many times I now get an call back giving info on a boat heading my way or just a thanks and a acknowledgment. Either way it makes for safer boating.
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Old 02-17-2008
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Most of my background in making securite calls has been aa a professional mariner. But they're applicable to all of us.

On ship's we'll commonly make them when steaming in fog or otherwise restricted visibility; yes even in the middle of the ocean with no one apparently around and the radar going.

Most ships do not slacken speed in fog in the open ocean. But, if you read the Colregs and read them for intent, you'll see that all means are required to ascertain the presence, not only the position, of another vessel. And you've got that VHF hanging there on the bulkhead that your owner has already paid for and you're not likely to wear out. Besides, you're on watch with little else to do, so you might as well talk to the ether. Here's the deal. Run down an unlit and disabled fishing boat, you didn't pick up on radar, and at the RS 4450 hearing they're going to take that four hour watch you stood apart right down to the brand of coffee you were drinking. It just makes sense.

That brings me to the topic of sailboat batteries. It's been my experience that most sailboats, offshore, will shut down a lot of electrical drain. VHF and running lights. That's fine as long as you're keeping a good watch in the daytime and you have them on at night and in restricted visibility. A lot don't. And that's dangerous. You need enough battery and charging capability to be able to at least hear my securite, if not make your own. The "SS President Madison at Lat/Long on a course of 265 degrees at 25 knots" is fully capable of ruining your day, in less than an hour. Maybe less than 10 minutes. What else were you going to do with those batteries?

On a ship at sea, I'd make a "CQ", or securite, call every 15 minutes in fog. I'd expect a sailboat would want to every half hour to hour in similar circumstances.

In port and during manoeuvering we'd make one just prior to undocking and every time we entered a new channel or the conditions warranted. Most recreational boater's probably ignore them; sailors should know better. If you hear, "Securite, securite. This is the Chevron Hawaii inbound from sea, bound for the Richmond Long Wharf, abeam of the Golden Gate Bridge, standing by for all concerned traffic" you'd might consider figuring out where the Richmond Long Wharf is on your chart and what route she'd be taking to get there. What you don't know, but intuitively need to know, is that she's an 80,000 ton tanker constrained by draft and she won't be giving way out of the channel. You're not really expected to exchange passing information with her about where you'll meet under the Bay Bridge, the better part of valor perhaps laying more along the lines of ensuring you're not where she's gonna be. A good time to navigate out of the channel, because you pretty much know she's not going to chase you into shallow water, or heave-to out of the way for a cuppa Joe. You really don't want the experience that bubb2 described, where you're so close, you're under the light pattern of her running lights. The only thing worse being, thinking you "know" where she is and having 800 some feet of steel go sliding by close aboard. You'll think it's never going to end.

Don't get me wrong. Ship's want to hear from you, ESPECIALLY out in open waters where you might well be hidden from radar by the sea and swell. They just might not respond to you specifically in inland waters because basically their course is set, they have no options as to where they can go. They can stop, temporarily, but the minute they do they risk wind and tide carrying them into shallow water and running aground perhaps.
they're going to assume that you'll keep clear of them.

The trade-off is that out at sea, they'll stay well clear of you and in confined waters it'd be nice if you stayed clear of them.

Guy's sometimes get a little goofy when racing. If a bunch of boat's decide to have a race it's real good idea to notify the pilot boat or the pilot station, or port control. Failing that, a securite broadcast is a good idea. Here's where the racer's get all po'ed: that tanker isn't stopping for your race either, unless you've done the really nice thing and notified the pilot boat in time and he can lay-to outside for 15 minutes until you clear the channel. It's all just a nice polite thing to do, on both sides.

Never assume either that the securite conversation you've just had is with the ship you see a mile away until you can positively identify him by name of stack insignia. You might well be talking to a very nice gentleman from Austrailia while you're about to have a close quarters situation with the M/V Bonzai Express. It's also not a bad idea, out at sea, once you've exchanged your securite greetings with a ship to ask him about any other ship's in the area he may have on radar. He's tracking them 24 miles out in general; much further than your radar will probably pick them up, if you even have radar. Good idea to get their course and speed and od a little plot on the old plottingor manoeuvering board to get the big picture.

The last thing you want to be caught doing is having to conserve your batteries and have a crew member say, "do you hear that?", turn the radio on and say, "is anybody ot there?", only to hear some mate on watch start to answer you while you're also hearing him say, "Hard Right!". Listen always, broadcast as much as you can within reason.

Just within the last year we had a story posted here on sailnet about a poor fellow who'd spent years restoring an old wooden classic only to be nailed by a tug and barge in the C&D canal in fog. He and his daughters barely escaped with their lives, one being submerged for quite some time within the now hulk. Somebody can probably find the post.
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Old 02-17-2008
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After boring and lecturing all to tears I'd best offer my favorite secuite call ever heard. There's some chance I've made the same broadcast myself on occasion. Forgive me if you've heard it before.

In the Mediterranean it's quite common for the Greek one-ship companies to do alot of their communicating with office and home via the Marine Operator. In this age they've become a bit passe. On a ship you rVHF is going to reach out perhaps 30 miles, reliably. Further at night. And every once in awhile, you'll catch a sky-wave and you can converse 100- to 150 miles away like you were laid alongside. Not real common.

In the Med. there are two large Marine Operators, essentially at opposite ends of the Med. One is Cabo de Palos Radio in Spain and the other is Hellas Radio in Greece. Throughout the Med. you'll spend hours listening to the Greek ships trying to raise one or the other all night long, even though they're hundreds of miles away from either. One time, in the last ten years, they got through so every night they're trying to repeat the feat. Greek ship's call signs begin with X-Ray so you know who they are when you hear them, too. And you call the M.O. on Channel 16 so it's not like you can just turn the volume down. For four straight hours you've got to listen to this.

Every once in awhile some smart aleck will answer with, "XZPL, this is Cabo de Palos Radio, shift and stand-by Channel 22" in an appropriate accent. That's usually good for 15 minutes of quiet as every Greek with 30 miles is frantically tuning to Ch. 22 to be first in line because tonight's the night!

The best transmission though is the securite broadcast and it's always done in an English accent, real or imagined. Amidst all the useless attempts to raise the Marine Operator there's often a short and pregnant pause in the action and this is wher you'll hear that oh so British and oh so proper voice come across the airwaves:

"All Ships, All Ship's. This is a Navigational warning! Repeat, this is a navigational warning. There are Greek ship's in the area. I say again, there are Greek ship's in the area. All mariner's are advised to navigate with caution. This has been a navigational warning. Out."

Then all hell breaks loose.
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Old 02-17-2008
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ROFLMAO... I can see that happening....
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Old 02-17-2008
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Of course there are legendary US Navy securite calls as well. They never say, Securite, they're above all that pedestrian stuff. Usually though, "This is US warship" is enough to get your attention in any event. (g) One thing about the Navy though, you have to understand, it's still a government run operation, so one hand doesn't always know what the other is doing.

In the Korean War the Navy had a destroyer stationed off the coast of Inchon on picket duty. The port of Inchon was in North Korean hands and the Navy had it effectively blockaded while they were building mine-sweepers to sweep the river and harbor prior to the invasion. Mine sweepers to replace the 700 odd they'd just scrapped after WWII, but that's another story.

So this lonely little DD is steaming back and forth off Inchon making sure nothing went in and nothing came out, when a radar target appears on the surface search radar screen. The Officer of the Deck (OOD) made, in essence, a securite call.

OOD-"Unidentified Contact, this is US Navy Warship, Please identify yourself"
(To the Navy, we're all "contacts" until we become "targets"-we're never actually, "ships")

Silence

OOD- "Unidentified Contact, this is US Navy Warship, Identify yourself!"

Silence and this went on for some time as the range got closer.

OOD- "Unidentified Contact, this is US Navy Warship, Identify yourself our we will commence firing upon you!"

To which a calm, lazy voice was heard over the radio to say,

"US Warship, this is USS New Jersey. Fire at will".
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