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post #1 of 12 Old 09-25-2016 Thread Starter
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Close Call Today

I had a class of four people. We were on our second day of the class just south of the mouth of the Thames river.

We had only the main up and were on a broad reach going maybe 3 knots. This power boat, pretty good size, with a bridge about 20 feet in the air is coming toward us on plane.

They were overtaking on our starboard quarter at about 160 degrees from the bow.

I couldn't see anyone on the helm. It looked like they might just miss us by a boat length or two but the smallest wiggle of the wheel would have been a crash.

There was basically nothing I could do in the time we had left to give us more room.

I gave him the 5 beeps and I see a head pop up and he veered off to the right.

I can not imagine someone going that fast and not looking?
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

Hard to imagine, perhaps, but apparently not so hard to do.

We've had similar close calls over the years.. 'otto' is not always your friend, I guess.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

This was a GREAT lesson for the students. I very rarely have had to use the horn. It has seen so little use that it failed the other day when I tried to use it. You can read about that here.

Was this during the 104 class that we PMed about?


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post #4 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

Over here in the Colonies, its no different. Usually I find sailors more aware . . . and going slower. But for us the biggest concern is the powerboats in the 20 foot range. In Maine no certification is required so anybody with a credit card and a cooler of beer can rent a boat with twin 3 kajillion HP engines and break light speed through the harbor.
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-26-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Close Call Today

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Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
This was a GREAT lesson for the students. I very rarely have had to use the horn. It has seen so little use that it failed the other day when I tried to use it. You can read about that here.

Was this during the 104 class that we PMed about?
No this was just yesterday.

But yes a good lesson.

The lesson from the Icarus story is not about human failing.
It is a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
If you have an engineering problem solve it.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

It must be something in the air.

Wednesday afternoon I was approaching a dock to pick someone up when a dingy cut directly in front of me. I was only going 2 knots as I approached but I had to use full reverse to keep from T-boning him. Honestly, I don't know how I missed him, he must have been drunk because he looked right at me, veered like he was going to go around my stern then changed his mind and cut in front of me. The person on the dock said I missed him by LESS than a foot. He had his back to my bow and never looked, I don't think he realized how close he came.

Wednesday night about 10PM I was at my mooring (no wake zone) cooking a pizza when a 30ft center console passed my boat at 30-40 knots. It was one of those quiet wind vs current conditions that put the empty mooring next to me at about 40 ft away so he had to have been less than 20 ft from my boat when he buzzed by. Scared the crap out of me but i saved the pizza!

Hopefully Darwin catches up with them before they hurt someone else.

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post #7 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

An educational scare for the students! It's good, and I bet they will never forget how and why you sounded the Danger Signal.

When we get a chance, I'll try to teach them the "does that powerboat see us? Is he even trying to? Is he even at the wheel?" practical factors:

--is his course "too steady"? Autopilot is on. Operator may not be ;-)
--is it after, say, 2pm on a Saturday or Sunday? Two chances in five the operator is tipsy (this is New Orleans after all)
--who us "up-Sun", us, or him? If he is looking into the sun, he's probably not looking (and if we are, we might not see him, this works both ways)
--is there other traffic around, closer to him? He may be looking at that, and not at you
--is he in that bow-up, wake-making "mushing" mode, between planing and slow displacement modes? If so, his blind spot ahead is bigger, and if he's going at that big-wake-poor-visibility speed near other smaller boats, he may not be the brightest bulb in the maritime-traffic chandelier to begin with
--is he monitoring Channel 16 so we could call him on our portable? Ha ha, are you kidding?
--is he upwind of us or downwind (easy to tell when we are sailing)? Upwind, he's less likely to hear those five blasts from us.

Rules of the Road are wonderful things, and keeping a proper lookout is next to Godliness, but don't count on either if you get too many "wrong" answers above about the much bigger and faster vessel closing in on you.
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post #8 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

Yikes, as you may remember this type of situation does not always turn out ok:
Fatal collision: ?the most horrific sound? | Soundings Online

Since the above incident it my firm practice, whenever an approaching powerboat does not make the mandated "early and obvious" action to remove the risk of a collision, to alter my course as may be necessary to move at a right angle to the course of the approaching powerboat, and to do so when I still have the time needed to escape from its path. If you are moving slowly like 3 knots, you need to make this decision when the approaching vessel is still 2-300 yards away, and if moving even slower, to start the engine to assist.... Over the years this practice has been a pain as I'd say at least once a weekend I have to engage a crash course change duck a powerboat whose intentions are not clear. And it really seems there are more powerboat operators (sail too for that matter) who think making the minimal required course change, at the last few seconds, is good enough.
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

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Originally Posted by RobGallagher View Post
It must be something in the air.

Hopefully Darwin catches up with them before they hurt someone else.

Sadly, it caught up with these three.

The USCG spokesman said he knew the boat well and had made two other "safety stops" of this same vessel (on different occasions) prior to the incident.

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident - Sun Sentinel

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post #10 of 12 Old 09-26-2016
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Re: Close Call Today

At one time I lived in Belle River Ontario along the shores of Lake St Clair, there was a pier the extended out from shore some 300-400 yards (lake is shallow) with a lighthouse on the end of it, there is also a roadway along the top of the pier with street lamps every 50 ft or so, yet every year on at least on 1 occasion a power boat loaded with people and a captain who is usually found later to be intoxicated runs into the pier wall at speed injuring or killing the crew.

We used to sail this lake all the time at night and there is nothing more terrifying than the sound of one of those cigarette boats screaming in the distance with the sound apparently getting closer rather the further away, you wonder, does he see my little steaming and nav lights?
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