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Old 09-10-2008, 04:53 PM   #21
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As one of the (colregs) rule breakers, I rely upon the statistical unlikelihood of collision. I realize that I am putting other traffic at risk by not maintaining a watch, yet rationalize that risk as small and therefore acceptable. I can not argue in defense of this practice. I do not have radar which I would like for it's guard zone alarm, but have not budgeted for during refits....I am quite concerned about a collision with a submerged container or other semi submerged hazards, but think that it would take ideal conditions to detect and avoid such hazards with full time watchkeeping. I always run my sounder when off soundings based on the theory that it announces my presence to whales and submarines.

If this were a situation of highways and improper operation of a car, Us "singlehanded passagemakers and racers" would have our driving priveleges revoked. Should the sea be governed by similar licensing and regulation? I have certainly seen people operating boats in a hazardous and incompetent manner both underway and at anchor - endangering others. I have both altered course and re-anchored to avoid them.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:32 PM   #22
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I realize that I am putting other traffic at risk by not maintaining a watch, yet rationalize that risk as small and therefore acceptable.

If this were a situation of highways and improper operation of a car, Us "singlehanded passagemakers and racers" would have our driving priveleges revoked. Should the sea be governed by similar licensing and regulation? I have certainly seen people operating boats in a hazardous and incompetent manner both underway and at anchor - endangering others. I have both altered course and re-anchored to avoid them.
I know I'm being argumentative here, but.

Why would you rationalize that a small risk of collision is acceptable to the boat that you might collide with? You might accept the risk for yourself, but you know that you can't speak for others you are putting at risk.

As far as incompetent boat operators, it just might come to the US starting to license boat operators. Lots of other countries do it, and I think it's only a matter of time when it will find its way to the US. But regardless, are you willing to operate in a safe and responsible manner only if you are compelled to by law and licensing?
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:47 PM   #23
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Hello, I thought I'd interject my 2 cents worth.

Although my solo sailing experience is very limited, I believe anyone whom decides to get up out of bed every day "assumes" a certain risk. You could trip on the rug at the top of the stairs on your way down to the kitchen for your morning coffee. You could get killed by another driver in a hurry to get to work and he runs you off the freeway at 65 mph. Lightening can strike you, an earthquake can swallow you, floods can drown you, terrorists can blow you up...etc etc...

Those people who say "there is no reason to sail solo" or "just find someone you like and bring them with" or "its against the law!" have thier own reasons for sailing. I have mine. Just because someone is sailing solo does not mean they are automatically "dangerous to others". I can't tell you how many "idiots" I've encountered with a full blown crew! Just because a vessel is crewed by no way means that it is being operated safely or more likely to make it out of a predicament. Lets be real here people, as cruising and worldwide trade deals expand, so do the risks, and if your not ready to assume those risks, maybe it's just too risky?

If anything, the solo sailor assumes all responsibility and risk. Because the solo sailor is aware of this, I believe "most" take these factors into account and "plan accordingly", ie.-other routes, bigger weather windows, advanced warning equipment, more education and a properly outfitted boat. All vessels have Only one person responsible for the vessel and that is the skipper or captain.

So those of you whom scorn the solo sailor, I have this question...If we were to bet on which boat would make it through 12 hours of bad weather in the exact same boat. A: A professional couple with 5 years of coastal cruising experience or B: A solo sailor with 20 years of coastal cruising experience... If I was a rat, I'd jump on the solo boat in a heart beat! Just my opinion... Great topic though!

I just think that there are so many factors that have to be considered, it's almost pointless to argue about it and there is No correct answer. Some prepare better than others weather or not there is a crew. An ill prepared crew is just as dangerous as an ill prepared solo sailor! Period!

Tight sails everyone!
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:22 AM   #24
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Hey, all,

I appreciate all the good discussion but one thing I don't want to focus on that whole "risk" thing that we can so handily argue about

Rather, the thing that I'm intensely curious about is the whole "solo" mindset and if it creates as many barriers as it breaks through.

What I mean here is--I've learned that some of our Cruiser Log members wouldn't be sailing if they weren't willing to go alone because of not having a friend/spouse/whatever person to sail with them. That's great--self reliance and willingness to get out there and do it on your own breaks a barrier.

The barriers that I've perceived (perhaps incorrectly) have to do with someone deciding that they aren't willing to sail with others because of _____. Fill in the blank, some might say because they don't trust the judgment of a potential crew member; some might say they don't want to deal with some aspect of personality or don't want to have to sail with a stranger, etc.

The reality is, that for ocean cruising, it may take some organization, willingness to accept and trust strangers...and patience, but usually one CAN find willing crew for a passage. So, if one puts up those mentioned barriers (and rationalizes away the risks), one has to have a good reason to do so--I want to understand those reasons. So far, I've heard some really good reasons to consider solo sailing for short jaunts. My own sense of responsibility for self and duty to others; my enjoyment of working as a team with others and my own enjoyment of people in general makes me think I wouldn't consider solo sailing for anything other than a short jaunt (with me wide awake! the whole time ), though.

Because we do have A LOT of potential cruisers out there who may only be able to take off and do it on their own, solo, or by being willing to take a stranger as crew, I do think that those of you who cruise (mostly) alone are good to share your experiences here for others to learn from. Especially if there are times that you choose to take on crew--when those times may be; or times that you think an inexperienced cruiser might be wise to take on crew...

Thanks all

Brenda
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:15 AM   #25
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Here is a short Extract from the log and stories from my old friend Jack van Ommen on his yacht "Fleetwood" We spent many hours together thousands miles apart discussing the weather,anchorages and other things all the way from Vietnam through South East Asia across to the Chagos atols (one of the loneliest but most beautiful anchorages in our oceans) down to The Cape of Storms, from where I passed him on to the late Fred Meyer of Radio Piri Piri, to see Jack across the Atlantic. Jack told me (by email this morning) that he is still short of his 80th birthday.

Jack Recounts his Solo Voyage :-

Departed February 10, 2005 from Gig harbor. "Fleetwood" arrived back on June 18, 2007 in Portsmouth, Va. after covering roughly 25,000 nautical miles and visiting 23 countries. This was only a temporary halt for me to visit family and friends on the West Coast and to spend time with no. 3 daughter and her family who live in Chesapeake, Va. I did a winter’s voyage down the Intra Coastal Waterway to the St. Johns River in Northern Florida to do a complete overhaul on “Fleetwood”. In August 08. I explored the Chesapeake Bay, see below:_ In early November I plan to head south for a Caribbean winter. I plan to cross the Atlantic in June of 2009 for a three year cruise through Holland and into the Mediterranean. So far the voyage has gone through the South Pacific, Philippines, Vietnam, Borneo (Malaysia), Indonesia, Christmas Island, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, St. Helena, Brazil, French Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad."

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Here's a short extract from his log regarding his recent trip in the Chesapeake Bay :-

"The high brick walls, triple decker pulpit, stone floors are in sharp contrast to the simpler wooden houses of worship of that period. My new friend, I had met a few days earlier in Urbanna, Lynne, and I sailed across to Irvington on Saturday and rode the “beach cruisers” from the Tides Inn Marina through the surrounding countryside to the 8 o’clock Sunday Anglican service.

My youngest daughter, Jeannine wit husband Sean and my granddaughter Gabrielle drove up from Chesapeake City on Sunday to sail on the river. Until that Saturday, I had never had any one else sail with me on “Fleetwood” since I left the Northwest in February 2005. Company was a welcome change for me this time. Sailing alone on the Chesapeake was not the same as sailing alone on the oceans. There are always fellow travelers of the same spirit to interact with in the foreign anchorages, gathering spots and watering holes.

This is the part of the Chesapeake where the story of Michener’s “Chesapeake” is set, on Maryland’s Eastern shore. A land of forests and marshes, inlets and rivers, the migrating Geese, plantations, boat builders and watermen. I first heard of “watermen” in Michener’s book. Waterman is a Chesapeake colloquial for a collection of oystermen, shrimpers, crabbers and fishermen."
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:36 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
The barriers that I've perceived (perhaps incorrectly) have to do with someone deciding that they aren't willing to sail with others because of _____. Fill in the blank, some might say because they don't trust the judgment of a potential crew member; some might say they don't want to deal with some aspect of personality or don't want to have to sail with a stranger, etc.

Brenda
I think that maybe you are seeing this as a black or white issue when it is far from that. Sure there are sailors who will fall into black or white catagories - there are those who will not sail without a crew and there are those who are willing to do so. But there is also a third catagory of sailor who is happy to do either. As such, I cannot fill in the blank.

In my own case, I chose a boat which can be sailed by me on my own but with space for a small crew too. This was a concious decision on my part just because I am happy to sail either alone or with a crew. I must admit though to not having made a voyage of more than 22 hours on my own, during which I was continuously awake and on watch.

One thing you mention Brenda is the personality issue. That can be a major stumbling block. I once sailed from the Med to South America with a guy who, once off soundings and well away from the coast just folded. he lost the plot and hardly left his bunk. If you sail with someone like that then you are better off alone.

Lastly, regarding the safety issue, I remember reading, although I forget where, a survey made of cruisers where the result indicated that the majority of cruisers were couples and that, even with two people onboard, they did not keep a permanent watch.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:57 AM   #27
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As others above have said, when the choice is to not go or go alone - - go. If you have a good vessel and have wisely outfitted it with the safest and most modern equipment, sailing alone is neither dangerous nor a problem. Human eyes can get tired and wink out, but good radars, radar detectors, navigations systems don't get tired. But you need to invest in the equipment and the knowledge and experience to know how to use the systems. Then you will have tireless, always alert and far ranging "eyes" helping you get to the next harbor. Of course, intelligent and wise planning is an important ingredient to insure that you don't arrive at your next new harbor in the dark.

I have sailed alone for 7 years in the Caribbean, Atlantic and coastal USA and never had a surprise or problem that I couldn't handle successfully. When I had "crew" and friends onboard "helping" me with watches I invariably have lots of problems and no end of "created problems" by folks who just do not know the in's and out's of sailing. Then I end up staying up all the time anyway, babysitting the "helpers" to keep them out of trouble especially when things start to pipe up and get hairy.

Surprisingly, in the Caribbean you will find up to one fourth of all the cruising boats are single handers. Most passages are day hops or an single overnighter.

But it all comes back to proper planning, equipping and level of knowledge and experience. Multi-person crews tend to get into more problems and "incidents" than experienced single-handers. Single handers by virtue of having only "me, myself, and I" onboard tend to be more careful and plan better so have less problems.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:31 AM   #28
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I think that maybe you are seeing this as a black or white issue when it is far from that.
Oh, there's nothing black and white about this issue--I think there are many people out there like you that "go with the flow" of crew availability and being realistic about solo sailing.

And, yes, even with two or more people onboard, some cruisers are irresponsible about watch keeping. That's a sad, sad, fact. However, a solo sailor doesn't have the choice of a permanent watch at all. Again--I am NOT focused on the watch keeping issue. I do like osirissailing's point of view. Also--choosing to cruise in waters where one can plan short jaunts rather than multi-week solo ocean crossings makes much more sense to me. Working with what one has to work with--a single knowledgeable sailor onboard--means choosing cruising grounds, electronic and mechanical aids, and activities wisely. I think this can also apply to many couples I've met who sail. Those couples where one person is the sailor and the other is "along for the ride"...humm...they may be the ones mentioned above who don't keep a watch.

Your situation with the sickly fellow isn't one I'd want to have either A few of those experiences and one might swear off crew entirely in disgust.

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Old 09-17-2008, 07:03 PM   #29
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My wife is not a sailor, but she keeps a great watch, and she navigates. In the beginning she would wake me when a light was on the horizon. Now she has her cue cards, and more knowledge. Sometimes I get 5 hours straight sleep. She loves her gentle music, and coffee on the night watch................LUCKY ME
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:58 PM   #30
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My wife is not a sailor, but she keeps a great watch, and she navigates. In the beginning she would wake me when a light was on the horizon. Now she has her cue cards, and more knowledge. Sometimes I get 5 hours straight sleep. She loves her gentle music, and coffee on the night watch................LUCKY ME
I just thought I'd throw a little wrench in the solo sailing discussion. I have read many books on the adventures of past solo sailors and all of them hint at a "Sixth Sense" that automatically kicks in during these situations of sleep deprivation. Tales of crewmembers that don't really exist, being awoke by someone thousands of miles away only to go out on deck and find a tanker on a colision course with your boat, etc...

Now I'm not advising that these are reliable techniques but Harvard University among others have done considerable studies on the Psycology of solo sailors and this "Sixth Sense" theory. These studies almost always conclude that there is something in the human brain that has the ability to "see things" without the use of the eyes and hear things without the use of the ears, (sleeping). I find these studies very interesting and mysterious.

Has anyone had something like this occur while solo-sailing? If so, I'd like to hear of your experience and thoughts of what occured. Remember, we humans only use about 5-10% of our brain, what is the other 90% capable of I wonder?

I love reading the posts on this topic and thanks for postng the question!

Also, does anyone have any stats of accidents on crewed vs. solo boats. I bet it would be interesting to check the #'s of success/ failure rates according to the numbers. It may be surprising, I'll look around on the web when I get a chance and post my findings.

Steve
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Old 09-18-2008, 03:52 AM   #31
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Hello Steve, in your web search for stats on "accidents" involving crewed and solo boats - it might be interesting to see the results for those occurring to boats in the ocean's shipping lanes.

It is probable that the container ship at night doing 22 kts in the correct lane did not feel a thing when it ran down and sunk the yacht. Therefore, the only statistic would be an addition to the 'Yachts Overdue' column.

Moral ? Stay out of the shipping lanes - Rule 10 Colregs.

See what happens if the rules are ignored or not known - here is an example:-

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Old 09-18-2008, 04:27 AM   #32
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I agree, I'd be surprised if most collisions at sea did not happen in the shipping lanes and your Moral is well founded. I have experienced wakes from tankers a mile away which have surprised me in thier size and speed. I don't recomend coming anywhere near a shipping channel if at all possible, even though we all know that is is eventually necessary to do so. But traveling in them, or even 5 miles within them, puts the cruiser at a much greater risk for colision.

I found some very good stats on the US Coast Guard site however nothing specific yet, I'm sure they are there though. I'll look some more tomorrow, (many pages to look at) and post what I find pertinent to the subject at hand.

Any opinion on the "Sixth Sense" theory? Just Curious...

Steve
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:47 AM   #33
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6th Sense ?

Between watches in the relief bunk with my head against the hull heard/felt distant :

't h u m p - t h u m p - t h u m p - t h u m p.' Got up - looked outside could see nothing hear nothing asked the Helm 'saw nothing could see nothing' got the binos : nothing. Put the radar on -- way over the horizon on collision course - a ship. Went down below, ear against the hull there was the t h u m p. 6th sense - probably not - sound carries faster in water.
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:58 AM   #34
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Two comments to the above posts:

1. Sixth Sense

Quite a few years ago I was commanding a fast patrol boat - and I mean FAST! Flat out we did 60 kts. On the night in question we were runing up the coast at about 45 knots; a good service speed for the boat with the minimum of noise and vibration. It was a clear moonless night, the sea was inky black and perfectly calm. Aside from our wake, there was no a ripple on the water. For no apparant reason I had a feeling that things were not quite as they should be. I stopped the engines and ordered a searchlight to scan ahead of the vessel and there, to my utter horror, not more tha 100 metres ahead of us was a small open boat with three teenagers in. They had not shown any lights, were low in the water and there was no sign of them on either of our RADARs. Why I sensed something was wrong I cannot even attempt to explain but I will be glad I did for the rest of my life. Despite no blame on our part, at least as far as I can determine, having the deaths of two teenage girls and one boy on my concience would be a burden I would not want to bear.

2. Collision detection

As far as "feeling" a collision is concerned, I am sure that a colision between a ship and the average yacht would not be felt on the ship. When in port, later, one might wonder at the scratched paint or at the bits of riging hanging from the anchor!

As an example, during the war years (1942 to be exact), the Queen Mary crossed the Atlantic, as normal being a fast ship, without an escort. The u-boats could not catch her due to her speed. However, being suceptable to air attack, an escort met her in the Western Approaches. The destroyer H.M.S. Curacao was one of he escorts. When the lookout on the bridge of the Curacao reported a possible u-boat sighting accross the bows of the Queen Mary and despite the u-boat (if indeed there was a u-boat there) not being a threat to the liner, the C.O. of the destroyer turned his ship to go in for the attack, crossing the bows of the Queen Mary as he did so. He miscalculated and instead of passing ahead of the passanger ship ended up colliding with her. Not a shudder was felt aboard the Queen Mary but the Curacao was sliced in two and sank, killing 338 of her crew. Other escorting destroyers saved 108 but the Queen Mary, with 15,000 US troops aboard, had orders to stop for nothing, as this would make her vunberable to attack from u-boats.

I am convinced if a colision with a destroyer goes unfelt (although not unnoticed) then a collision with a yacht would not either.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:53 PM   #35
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Tankers and Container ships range far from the shipping lanes these days. Satellites allow them to find the best currents and winds to aid in their passages, and they take full advantage of this.

Granted, the shipping lanes still see the highest volume of traffic, but don't be surprised to see a behemoth steaming along elsewhere...
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:07 AM   #36
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The visible horizon is about 3.5 nm at best from an average cruising sailboat. Given that the tankers, mega cruise ships, etc. do 15-20 kts that leaves you with about 4 to 5 minutes or less to see and avoid the behemoth. That is a good trick for anybody to accomplish given our dependence on wind angle and our relative snail speed. So a good radar is really critical these days to detect and plot these ships 10-15nm away instead of just before they hit you.

At night this is even more important as trying to see a black hull on a black night is quite difficult. And if you are in the North Atlantic maybe you will have the benefit of seeing their lights - on the first world ships, at least. The documented procedures for third world freighters is to run without lights and without radar especially in the Pacific. So it is up to you to set up the necessary procedures and equipment to find them. Sort of like "defensive sailing." Add in the little kids in small boats and third world fishing fleets/boats which definitely do not have lights on board and you learn to avoid overnight sails if at all possible.

This is rarely a problem in the Caribbean as most islands are not that far apart. However, there is a new wrinkle in the mix where you will definitely be choosing to run at night - pirates. And you run without lights and silent through these pirate hotspots. I personally would put having a radar right up there with having good navigation equipment as a priority piece of safety equipment. You can get the little 15nm radars quite cheap and they draw less than 30 watts (2.5 amps) to run. So 10 hours of night operation is 25 amp hours and with intermittent scans you can have that power requirement.
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:53 AM   #37
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The visible horizon is about 3.5 nm at best from an average cruising sailboat. Given that the tankers, mega cruise ships, etc. do 15-20 kts that leaves you with about 4 to 5 minutes or less to see and avoid the behemoth.
Sorry to dissapoint you but the logic here is flawed.

Knowing the height of eye of an observer (h) it is possible easily to calculate the distance to the horizon. Without going into the derivision of the formula (I will if you wish), the distance to the sea horizon in nautical miles is calculated as follows:

In metres, d = 2.08* √h

In feet this would be d = 1.145* √h

So, with a height of eye of 9 feet the distance to the sea horizon would be 1.145 * √9

= 1.145 * 3

= 3,435 NM

So far your reasoning is correct but what you forgot was that the supertanker you mentioned will have a superstructore of some 100 feet or more above the water and far much more if she is in ballast. So, we have to establish the distance to the horizon of this and add that to our own distance to the horizon to determine when the supertanker would first begin to become visible.

Thus, the calculation, (here I will just show the calculation for feet but it works in exactly the same way in metres) looks like this:

d = d1 + d2 or

d = 1.145* √h (ours) + 1.145* √h (supertankers)

d = 1.145* √9 + 1.145* √100 (for ease of calculation I have assumed the tanker's superstructure to be 100' a.s.l. It would probably be more)

thus,

d = 1.145*3 + 1.145*10

d = 3.435 + 11.45

d = 11.885 NM

(This is exactly the same method used to establish the dipping distance of lights and the reason why the height above sea level of the centre of the lanter is given in List of Lights)

Assuming it to be clear weather, you would not therefore have the maximum of 5 minutes mentioned in your post before the ship is upon you after coming over the horizon but, allowing for a speed of 20 knots, some 35 minutes.

One further comment; you state that the "documented procedure" is for ships of third world countries to run without lights. I wonder where this is documented? I can also mention that in some 15 years as a ship's navigating officer or master I have never seen any ship, except warships, run without lights. Nor have I detected such by RADAR. A warship, coast gaurd cutter etc may run without lights but then the obligation is upon them to keep out of your way. You are however right in that small fishing boats in the third world do not always show lights, but even they tend to light a lantern when approached.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-21-2008, 04:50 PM   #38
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Try Ocean Navigator Magazine and the famous incident in the Pacific where a whole family except the wife were killed by a Korean freighter. Subsequent research revealed why is is quite cheap to ship your freight on 3rd world shipping . . . Anyway, I would not bet my life on that extra mileage "over the horizon" for visual identification given that we are a only about 3-5 feet above the sea surface while in the cockpit and we are going up and down into swells or waves that normally exceed that height. That is the same reason that the "big boys" / ships cannot see us either visually or on their radar - - we are lost in the sea clutter.

Bottom line: plan to detect and avoid them rather than relying on regulations about what "they" are supposed to do. You may end up "dead right" in more ways than one.
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:29 PM   #39
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Oh you are absolutely right in respect to the fact that nobody wants their epitaph to state that they were right and the "big boy" was wrong but I have been one of the "big boys" for many years and every ship I sailed in has kept a good watch, Of course there are exceptions but the anomoly here is that the "big boys" seem to be getting the blame for inadequate watchkeeping on some yachts. The Rules require also the "stand on" vessel to take such action as can best avoid collision if collision cannot be avoided by the giving way vessel alone. In my mind there is no doubt about what the rules state. Every vessel is required to keep a good lookout 24 hours a day whilst under way. The rules make no exceptions for yachts or for Korean vessels.

I am not asking you to "bet your life on that extra milage", I was simply pointing out that your argument regarding the distance at which a vessel becomes visible was flawed. Nothing more nor anything less. If you present figues as factual arguments then you must be prepared to have these figures examined.

As for the "bottom line", i.e. detect rather than be detected you are absolutely right and again just following the regulations which require you to use all available means to detect other vessels. If you want to make yourself visible, get a transponder such as the SeaMe and get an AIS transponder too.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-24-2008, 08:32 PM   #40
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Well this has been a long running discussion and understandably so, so I guess I may as well add my t'uppence worth.

I have been solo sailing since 2002, not originally by choice, my partner of 20 years fell ill and had to depart our boat mid-Indian Ocean for medical treatment, unfortunately she did not return. I continued, initially feeling very sorry for myself. I looked for crew but nothing ever seemed to work out and reluctantly I fell more and more to single handing. I think I am sociable by nature, if a little introverted, but I have come to love solo sailing. I have recently completed a cruise to Greenland solo (see http://blog.mailasail.com/sylph) and it was fantastic.

I accept all the discussions about risk etc. and do my best to minimize the risk to myself and others. In fact I used to be quite derisive of single handers as being irresponsible. My addition to this thread is that the most dangerous thing most people do every day of their lives is to get in their motor cars and drive to work. And certainly a poor crew is worse than no crew at all.

A great device I use to help manage the risk is the "Watch Commander" (http://www.sailsafely.com/), basically a glorified egg timer, with two audible alarms. You set the time you want to wake up, 3 - 27 minutes in 3 minute increments, after the time period elapses an alarm goes off and you have one minute to hit the reset button, if you don't an extremely loud and shrill alarm sounds, enough to wake the dead! I adjust the time interval to suit the circumstance: e.g. open ocean, night, clear visibility - typically 21 minutes; coastal, depending on traffic density, - typically somewhere between 6 and 15 minutes. It is expensive for what it is (about $150) but cheap in absolute terms. This was designed by a cruiser (I have no financial interest in it btw) for short handed sailing. Anyway enough of the plug.

And the why? For me it perhaps is one of those things you have to do, and maybe for a while, to understand. All I can say is that it is one of the most peaceful and rewarding activities I have ever undertaken. I for one am grateful that the powers that be have not yet taken away this little piece of freedom that remains on the open ocean. Meanwhile I promise to do my best to maintain a proper and effective lookout and observe the regulations.

Bob, SV Sylph VI
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