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Old 07-01-2007, 11:39 PM   #1
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Occasionally people make reference to being in "shipping lanes" while discussing other topics. I have not found the topic of shipping lanes themselves discussed. It would seem ships would tend to take advantage of wind and ocean currents where feasible, or at least consider them.

How are they established and defined?

How does one learn where there are, before cruising?

Do you consider shipping lanes when planning a passage?

As a cruiser, do you try to avoid these lanes, reducing potential collision?

Do you sail at the edge, potentially having emergency resources closer?

Thank You,

Roserita
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Old 07-02-2007, 05:36 AM   #2
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First off you need to be aware of the difference between "shipping lanes" and Traffic Separation Schemes or TSS. The latter are found in high traffic areas and you can find out about them in Rule 10 of the IRPC and also in the Mariners' Handbook.

How are they established and defined?

'Shipping lanes' are a rather airy fairy thing, essentially just bits of sea where you get a lot of ships.....the track from the Persian Gulf to Japan is a very busy shipping lane for obvious reasons, likewise the route from the River Plate to NW Europe is also busy.

It would seem ships would tend to take advantage of wind and ocean currents where feasible, or at least consider them. How does one learn where there are, before cruising?

Ships tend not to take a great amount of advantage of winds and currents, at least no in the way yachts do. It tends to be more of a 'point and go' operation. If you get hold of a copy of 'Ocean Passages for the World' you will get the idea. Frinstance a yacht going from Las Palmas to Cape Town would be heading way off to the west...a ship would just go by the most direct route.

Do you consider shipping lanes when planning a passage?

No, but having an idea where they are will give an idea of where you are more likely to meet ships and where you should be more vigilent.

As a cruiser, do you try to avoid these lanes, reducing potential collision?

Not really, most ocean passages on a yacht will see you either crossing or sailing in the general direct of a few 'lanes'.

Do you sail at the edge, potentially having emergency resources closer?

Probably not as they will rarely be going where you want to go.

One of the scariest things is when you read of sailors who say ' as we were now in the shipping lanes we started keeping a lookout'.

World trade is so great these days and there are so many obscure ports that there are few bits of water that aren't on a 'lane' of some sort.....

Hope this helps

Frank
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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For major shipping lanes see British Admiralty publication "Ocean Passages of the World", A great and salty book but it will set you back a good few pounds

Aye

Stephen
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roserita View Post
Occasionally people make reference to being in "shipping lanes" while discussing other topics. I have not found the topic of shipping lanes themselves discussed. It would seem ships would tend to take advantage of wind and ocean currents where feasible, or at least consider them.

How are they established and defined?

How does one learn where there are, before cruising?

Do you consider shipping lanes when planning a passage?

As a cruiser, do you try to avoid these lanes, reducing potential collision?

Do you sail at the edge, potentially having emergency resources closer?

Thank You,

Roserita
Frank has it right on. Shipping lanes are really a great circle route from point A to point B. Some heavily travelled, others, not. Traffic separation schemes are strictly controlled areas (usually by the Coastguard) with clearly defined bounderies and directions, printed on a chart.

Offshore just by keeping a good lookout will keep you safe. Call any commercial vessel on VHF channel 13, which is bridge to bridge, to make sure that they are aware of you.

In any passage offshore the thing to give a wide berth to, are sea mounts. These are shown on charts, usually have a lot of rough upswells and a hoard of offshore fishing vessel strung out across the ocean for several miles.

Regards, Lionel
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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Hi Lionel,

Regarding contact bridge to bridge, will commercial vessels monitor channel 13, or will they monitor distress on 16. I have had difficulty in calling a coastal freighter on 16 in the past and wonder if this is the reason

Best wishes

David.
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:03 AM   #6
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Hi again!

Merchant vessels can and do follow great circle routes but they vary a lot. Firstly, great circle routes always, by their very nature, lie closer to the poles than rhumb line routes. This means that the navigator can expect worse weather and the possibility of ice (certainly on the north Atlantic route from US / Canada to northern Europe). Many masters therefore choose to follow a composite great circle, following the great circel track to a latitude of their chosing and thereafter parallel sailing until the reach the "downward" path of the great circle which they then follow.

Weather and currents are taken into account. Eastbound accross the North Atlantic, I would follow a great circle or composite great circle as the North Atlantic Drift and weather should be in my favour. When westbound I would choose a more southerly route.

This said, the mariner of today is more likely to be "weather routed" putting the different sailings into a secondary context. Weather routing services advise ship masters of the best ocean routes to avoid bad weather. The issue here is that a few hours advantage gained by following favourable currents can turn into many days delay with insurance claims for damaged cargo if the vessel encounters very hard weather.

The bottom line is that you can encounter vessels anywhere. They may not be merchant ships but can be research vessels, warships, fishing vessels, survey ships, satelite tracking vessels etc. etc. My advice on this one - keep a good lookout wherever you are.

Aye

Stephen
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Old 07-06-2007, 04:44 PM   #7
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Kinda depends on WHERE. Along the gulf coast of both Texas and Louisiana there are defined "safety fairways" where the ships run ( and we sail) to avoid the oil rigs that are sprinkled around like pepper on a table. Although we do sail among the rigs for short passages where it really isn't feasible to go out to the fairways, which are commonly 20 to 25 miles out.

If you'll take a look at the link which leads you to a offshore chart of the Texas/La line you can see the fairways and the mulltitude of black squares that indicate rigs. The inshore portion is just as heavily populated, but those are shown on another chart. This one will give you the idea though.

http://www.texasgulfcoastfishing.com/image...maps/mygulf.gif
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