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Tom7122 12-13-2003 10:31 AM

Restricted maneuverability
As a USCG Licensed Master for 20 years, and the Captain of a Hydrographic Survey Vessel in Baltimore Harbor I find myself in many near collision situations with pleasure craft (Power and sail) operating in the 50 foot shipping channel, when in many areas from Baltimore to below the Bay Bridge, 20 foot+ exists outside of those channels for safe passage around me. We display the Black BALL-DIAMOND-BALL dayshape as required by USCG rules for Restricted Maneuverabity vessels. Night colors are RED-WHITE-RED displayed vertically. The nature of hydrographic surveying requires one to run a track line across the channel with a 10'' tolerance and steady speed. If I deviate, the line is rerun, which is costly. If you see that dayshape, POWER and SAIL vessels must stay clear and yield right of way (USCG Inland Rule 18). This may not be taught in all schools but is especially important in inland waters around dredging areas. Vessels trolling must also stay clear. As the captain of a survey vessel, I want boaters to understand their responsibility as vessel operators so I''m not the "bad" guy for "cutting others off". I''m only doing what''s required under USCG Navigation rules by maintaining course and speed. Pass astern of survey vessels after consulting a current nautical chart. I also monitor Channels 13/16. Most vessels will air security calls on VHF 16 to alert the public as to survey operations. Thanks, Tom Conroy Captain, Survey Vessel Linthicum, US Army COE.

jbanta 12-13-2003 12:16 PM

Restricted maneuverability
Thanks for the reminder it''s good to hear some someone from the other side of boating from time to time lest we forget and do stupid thing that can cause damage to ourselves or others. Boat will always have a element of danger, might not be fun if it didn''t, but we can still lessen that danger by following a few simple rules.. Thanks again for your input..

Jeff_H 12-13-2003 12:16 PM

Restricted maneuverability

Thank you for that helpful reminder.


pirateofcapeann 12-14-2003 03:03 PM

Restricted maneuverability
You mention to “pass astern” of a survey vessel. Perhaps, as the skipper of one you could answer a question. Understanding that survey vessels oftentimes are trawling sensitive and expensive gear in their wake, I’m wondering if you could suggest a “general rule of thumb” as to how far behind these vessels one should be when crossing their wake? I understand that “Towed Arrays” for sonar and the like may be set quite far astern, out of the turbulent prop-wash. It may be that they will be set deep as well and would pose no danger to me as I pass over, but I really don’t know. I sail in New England waters and it seems that as our government wants exacting surveys of the fishing grounds off our shores, our meetings are by more then chance. Thanks!

paulk 12-14-2003 07:29 PM

Restricted maneuverability
It is nice to hear from the U.S.A.C.O.E. and to see the Captain''s professional, courteous and informative post.

DuaneIsing 12-16-2003 04:53 AM

Restricted maneuverability
As much as I like to think that sailors have more seamanlike qualities than the average boater, it amazes me how many people in sailboats think that sail has the "right-of-way" over power in all circumstances.

Thanks for the post.


Tom7122 12-19-2003 12:38 PM

Restricted maneuverability
You have brought up a very good question. Most USACE survey vessels are doing single beam surveys, and many are using multibeam gear. The multibeam units are generally fixed with a device under the hull, or over the side. That poses no problems. However, some vessels are towing a towfish connected by heavy cable astern. They are usually a few feet above the bottom, but not always. These vessels will generally be running with the channel along it''s length as turning is extremely limited. NOAA does a lot of sidescan work with a towfish astern. Their surveys include areas outside channels so that charts can be undated. We use one too, but it''s used mostly to locate underwater obstructions. Most single beam surveys involve running survey lines back and forth across the channel and beyond the edge of the channel about 200 feet. Multibeam also involves running a fixed course, but along the length of the channel including edges, centerline, and a few in between. It also requires strict tolerance in regard to speed and bearings. The best and safest thing to do is call a survey vessel on Channel 13, and if no reply, Channel 16. That takes the guesswork out of maneuvering.

Bermuda 12-30-2003 07:10 PM

Restricted maneuverability
I too am a USCG licensed Master, mostly in sailboats for 51 years and would like to add to Duane''s comment. Sailboats are actually 6th in the pecking order of right of way.

Captain Tom''s Hydrographic boat is third in the pecking order although when being overtaken he is upgraded to number one.

Capt. Bruce

pirateofcapeann 12-31-2003 12:59 PM

Restricted maneuverability
Hey, Bermuda. Last I checked, there are only 5 levels in the “pecking order”. Rule 18 lists them as”

1) A vessel not under command
2) A vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver
3) A vessel engaged in fishing
4) A sailing vessel
5) A power-driven vessel

Where did you come up with the sixth? And, of course, Tom’s research vessel would fall under number 2 while she’s working,

Of course there’s the “Marblehead” rule, also known as “The Golden Rule” which states that “the one with most gold makes the rules”.

Okay, prove me wrong!

Bermuda 12-31-2003 06:09 PM

Restricted maneuverability
You have actually left out quite a few, but I am not trying to be an adversary to prove you wrong but the following is the proper pecking order

Not Under Command
Restricted in Ability to Maneuver
Constrained by Draft (International only)
Fishing (Commercial)

Capt Bruce

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