Originally Posted by redbopeep
One is also assuming that ships with radar actually have it turned on and are "looking"...this is NOT always the case.
You are quite correct. It is not always the case but such vessels are contravening Rule 5 of the Collision Regulations:
Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.
Not that the knowledge that the ship is in the wrong helps you a whole lot when you are run down.
In this regard, all we can do is to make ourselves as visible as possible. Paint the boat red, yellow or orange; have red sails; have good navigation lights; use the biggest radar reflector you can find and safely rig, have a SeaMe or similar, get a class B AIS transponder and keep a good lookout. The Mark 1 Eyeball is by far still the best tool in your sailing toolbox.
Having been on both sides of the fence, let me tell you of an incident I was involved in many years ago. We were heading south about 20 NM off the coast of Portugal in a ship of about 10,000 tons. The weather was fine and clear with force 6 - 7 wind and bright sunshine. I was officer of the watch and I also had a seaman on lookout duties. Both radars were running, one on 12 mile range and the other on 3. One was transmitting on X-band and the other S-band. Suddenly, without having seen it optically or on the PPI a small. open, white painted fishing boat appeard relatively close (about 1NM) on our port bow. It was low in the water and wooden so the radar had not picked it up and because it was also painted white neither the seaman lookout nor I had seen it earlier. All went well and the fishing boat passed safely down our port side but it did make me very aware the issue of seeing small boats at sea. I was on a well found ship with two radars running, an OOW and lookout too, and this during the hours of daylight.
Ironically, although most yacht sailors are of the opposite opinion, small vessels are often more easily seen at night providing they have good lights and are away from a coast with all its background lights.
IMHO the seas were much safer places 30+ years ago when merchant ships generally were registered in traditional maritime states and were owned by responsible shipping families / companies. Unfortunately today we live in the age of "the fast buck" and traditional values have been displaced. I will not allow this to develop into a rant but would like to point out that once you leave the berth your survival depends more on your own abilities and efforts than those of others.
Aye / Stephen