Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Collision Avoidance

Usually being a sailboat in the open ocean is pretty good. Under the COLREGS sailboats have the right of way over everyone except, in order of priority, vessels "not in command"*,) vessels "restricted in their ability to maneuver," and vessels "actively engaged in commercial fishing"**.) In channels "restricted in their ability to maneuver" is pretty common. The big ships stay in the channels, we flirt around the edges. But in the open ocean it is very rare. I just spent the last five hours dealing with a vessel (actually several) restricted in their ability to maneuver. Specifically two ocean going tugs pulling an oil rig. A very big oil rig! This was made more complicated by the presence of several other vessels. With AIS it is somewhat possible to predict the closest point of approach. I say somewhat because wind variations can change the CPA. There is nothing quite like expecting to pass across the bow of a big ship and having the wind die! Would I pass in front? Should I alter course and pass behind? In the final moments (CPA 2 nm) it was clear it was going to be close. So I did a 180 to pass behind. But a 180 was not possible without going into irons. As it turns out, doing a 160 was good enough.

Fair winds and following seas :)

* "Red over red the Captain is dead." A ship that can not maneuver. Usually because they have lost their engines.

** No, Joe SixPack doesn't qualify. Nor does a commercial fishing boat going to or from the fishing grounds.

081800ZAUG2017 Underway from South Buru, Indonesia to Maumere, Indonesia.

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