Group: Forum Members
Firstly, can I sign up is a Petty Officer on a large commercial vessel for an ocean passage when you set that up? I am not sure how much safer a cruiser that would make me, but I would love the opportunity.
I also agree that there are many recreational boats going to sea who do not have the experience, the training nor often the boat to venture far from shore.
What are your normal sailing grounds where you find such need to do avoidance procedures? The ships you are hailing: do you hail by name (from rx AIS) or position (tanker at approx. lat/lon off starboard bow)? Were the collision avoidance procedures you described where you were the stand on vessel, and you deemed collision was possible and needed to break out of your “maintain crs & spd” obligation in order to avoid?
I am curious as my experience differs so markedly, (most recently 5+ yrs in Northern Europe: 6-7 mo/yr on the go E to St. Petersburg, west to Ireland, N to Lofotons, lots of shipping lanes and traffic). I do rx AIS and find that makes a difference. To call a ship by name increases the likelihood they will respond, dramatically so if the hailer is a woman in our experience. We have 4-5 years where we also tx our boat data through AIS and find that makes a difference. I now notice boats, 4-6 miles out adjust crs a few degrees to miss me. I talk to far fewer vessels than I did before rx/tx AIS and most of those are fishing with erratic courses and have had no collision avoidance occurrences lately.
When, in the rare instances where a vessel I have not been able to contact on VHF and I are on a (near) collision crs and I am stand on, I make a last hail saying something like this, “Vessel (name x 3). This is Alchemy (rep), on high power vhf ch 16. I am sailing on a starboard tack in open water. I have hailed (vessel name) on ch 16 numerous times with no response. I believe I must change crs and spd to ensure there is no collision. If nothing heard, I will start the changes in a few moments.” Mostly, I get a grudging response to this.
Note: I use and announce high power as I want all vessels to know what is going on and the ship’s involved and some may document. I announce my intention of breaking out of my “maintaining crs & spd” obligation and why. When crs change is made, I further announce the new crs and spd and intention (pass astern or hold station till the ship passes). Later document all in your log.
The above I used in Central America and places in the Med. N Europe I have found very professional and I have rarely had to contact the helm of commercial vessels. AIS has made a very big safety contribution, I believe, to recreational vessels at sea with the big boys.
With regard to paper charts, I suspect you will find most cruisers rarely using paper charts for navigation, especially around land and in coastal cruising. My paper charts serve 2 functions: first they are used for routing and planning as they allow me to see the big picture (such as picking courses through the islands of Norway), but I do no plotting on paper charts these days. The other paper charts carried are generally small scale and for emergency use to get us safely into a large port if a catastrophe such as a lightning strike occurs. I carry divider and parallel rules, know how to use them, but rarely do so. Same with my sextant.
Finally, regardless of all the above, I agree that there remains a very strong argument for proper watch keeping.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy