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Old 12 April 2007, 19:09   #11
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According to the “debate” on Radio 2 today the watch keepers reactor-light glasses are being highlighted as one possible reason why he did not see the yacht approaching.

Yes power gives way to sail but we always switch on the motor and move when ever there is any doubt when the ferry and or tankers are coming up, just as you say they are quicker than you think when you are only doing 4-5 knots.

I would suggest that rather than using the Power gives way to Sail (assuming the ship is not constrained by her depth and some other exceptions) does not work. If I may I suggest that Glass fiber gives way towood givs way to steel works a whole lot better.
Having sailed a good bit at night at that, it defies logic that they didnt see or hear the ferry. Furthermore and whilst I didnt read the report, the ferry would be on a regular run which will be ether a shipping lane or a well defined route, either way, it defies logic that they didnt know or see the boat.
Assuming that they were under sail it still defies logic that they did not make a significant deviation in their course so as to be very obvious on Radar.

Normally when faced with a collision course which one determines based on the angle between both headings remaining constant thus convergance, both parties bear off so as to avoid colliding. Whilst I am rusty on the rules and given that ships that are not constrained by their depth pass port to port so I am guessing that they bear of to Starboard. This action (of avoiding a game like chicken) should be deliberate and obvious so as to appear on radar so the larger ship has due notice. Failure todo this can end up with left right left right etc then smack in the middle.

Finally, I do not understand why they did not have an EPIRB device for night sailing. This device will have their location down to 18 feet in North Atlantic within 40 min.

I was faced with a similar situation myself and without going into too much info, I had advisd the Captain (I was mate) of this Navy based sail training yacht, that he was in teh wrong because A: his motor was running when he mentioned about Right of way and B: that we had 14 Young trainees asleep below in their bunks who trusted our judgement as I then advised him that I was standing by with my knife to cut loose the holding strap on the Liferaft and about to wake the crew. Eventually I got through to him when I head clearly the engines of the Coaster several hundred meters ahead. Crikey what a plonker. Suffice to mention that I made som eadjustments in the Watch system to single out the skipper as watch leader advising him that he was too important to be a WL and that he should just fly loose on Watch.

No use to those 3 men at this stage.
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Old 12 April 2007, 19:24   #12
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Yes power gives way to sail but we always switch on the motor and move when ever there is any doubt when the ferry and or tankers are coming up...
I call that "Right of Weight". Years ago I used to race sailboats in Hamilton Harbour. This harbour is frequented daily by several 600' lakers servicing the steel mills there, as well as a number of "salties". Access to the harbour is through a "ship-wide" canal, with a lift bridge. To maintain steerage, the ships enter about 8 - 10 knots.

I used to regularly see entire FLEETS of sailboats racing across this canal ahead of an approaching ship... a ship with no ability to steer away or stop. Nothing like risking life and limb for a little tin cup and a pennant.

I don't meant to suggest that the crew of the boat in question here didn't appreciate such things. I don't know if the inquiry looked at sail position or not, but I wonder if the crew's view might have been obscurred by the headsail...

Cod, I don't disagree with you. "Our" ferry, the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun is similarly lit at night. It really is hard to imagine missing it, so I maintain that it was more likely a case of misjudging speed and/or direction. I know that with the "Cheech" as we call it, the nav lights are somewhat lost with all of the deck floods...

Our Chi-Cheemaun (Ojibway for "Big Canoe")
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Old 13 April 2007, 05:34   #13
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Having sailed a good bit at night at that, it defies logic that they didnt see or hear the ferry. Furthermore and whilst I didnt read the report, the ferry would be on a regular run which will be ether a shipping lane or a well defined route, either way, it defies logic that they didnt know or see the boat.
Assuming that they were under sail it still defies logic that they did not make a significant deviation in their course so as to be very obvious on Radar.
Well go and read the full report in detail before speculating on what they did or didn't do/see?

The report (which is at least based on evidence reviewed over weeks/months rather than your instantaneous thoughts) suggests that it is likely that the crew of Ouzo did see the PoB. On her original course Ouzo would have cleared PoB easily and there was no close quarters/collision situation developing. However, PoB had reached a waypoint in her course not long before the collision and then initiated a slow turn (as opposed to a distinct change of course) which MAY have gone unnoticed to the crew of Ouzo until it was too late (in fact it may even have led the crew of Ouzo to believe the PoB was taking avoiding action so as to give her a "wide berth".

The MAIB suggest that white flashes observed by the crew of PoB immediately before the collision/swamping were either the crew of Ouzo opening the cabin to alert colleagues or attempting to draw attention to themselves - too late.

Ouzo was not visible on the ships radar (from the voyage data recorder). Experiments with a similar vessel showed that even with the type of radar reflector Ouzo carried she was unlikely to be visible on radar at that particular course.

A number of factors MAY have contributed to the crew of PoB not seeing Ouzo's lights. One factor which was shown to have an effect was as referred to above the reactalight glasses worn by the look out. However the MAIB also seems to believe that white lights on the bridge contributed to a loss of dark adaption in the wathkeeper and look out's eyes.

As well as raising a potential safety concern regarding reactalight glasses the report briefly highlights that many older leisure boats have nav lights lenses which have become crazed over time - and thus less efficient. That could apply to RIBs too - and there may be a lesson for us there.
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Old 13 April 2007, 05:39   #14
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Finally, I do not understand why they did not have an EPIRB device for night sailing. This device will have their location down to 18 feet in North Atlantic within 40 min.
Hindsight Aidan is a wonderful thing. EPIRBs cost money and like all safety kit and insurance policies are usually considered quite expensive until you need them.

Crotch straps on life jackets and lights for lifejackets are much cheaper - and they didn't have these either. They would be higher up my priority list for night sailing.
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Old 13 April 2007, 07:27   #15
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I think the key is having some way to all of these kind of incidents is being able to communicate with whatever is attached to your person at the time of sinking (handheld VHF, epirb, PLB etc). If nobody knows you sank then it doesnt matter how long you stay afloat for (certainly in this case).

I suspect the criminal charges are due to the failure to stop and check rather than the actual cause of the accident. Also maybe to do with supposedly poor choice of last minute avoidance technique.
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Old 13 April 2007, 08:00   #16
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Thanks to Polwart

...for saving me typing exactly the same thing!

If you read the report thoroughly then you will see that the informed conclusion (as no-one will ever know what exactly happened) is that the slow rate turn made by autopilot to avoid passenger discomfort may have lead the crew of the yacht not to realise until too late how close they were going to be to the ferry. I say how close, because further speculation in the report is that the yacht didn't make contact with the ferry but was swamped by the wash. Similarly when the watchkeeping officer did see the yacht he turned by autopilot rather than direct rudder control. In actual fact this meant that the change in course was minimal and thus probably did little or nothing to prevent the collision/swamping.

The utterly damning thing in my mind is the failure of the watchkeeping officer to make postive identification that the yacht was OK. A VHF call. Stopping the ferry and conducting a search etc. Had he done that then the crew may well been picked up alive.

It's interesting to see the increased fitment of VDR's (an IMO requirement for all vessels in international trade over 3000GRT by 2010) providing more definitive data on a ships movements, crew actions etc. Hopefully this will lead to continued improvement in safety processes for all of us.
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Old 13 April 2007, 19:21   #17
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Of course Alan and Polwart are correct and i guess if I cared enough I would read the report. However, given that I have been in such a situation I know exactly what I am talking about and whilst I have the night time sea going experience, I have a good idea what went worng.
It is too sensitive an issue for me to get my teeth stuck into and people are dead. It is very important that it doesnt happen again but you know that it will. It is like a Greek Tragedy except that on water and that of a ferry, so every few years one will happen.

Its appaling that it happened and given that the rules of teh road/sea exist, I am pretty sure several were broken. It is not unknown for Coasters to have close shaves (every day)...any way, if out sailing at night, be careful, normally its what you cannot se that causes the damage.

One of the most important pieces of equipment that a yacht should have is a radar reflector that works. Failing that haul up a few pots and pans up teh mast as an emergency. Flares are useful too...
If teh first few dont work shoot the rest of them at the oncoming boat bridge.
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Old 13 April 2007, 20:18   #18
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i guess if I cared enough I would read the report. However, given that I have been in such a situation I know exactly what I am talking about and whilst I have the night time sea going experience, I have a good idea what went worng.
aidan - you have a bit of an bizzare attitude - almost as though you are so experienced/knowledgable/wise that this could/would never happen to you (in spite of suggesting it nearly did). If you care enough to spend the time typing here - at least read the bloody bulletin for leisure boaters .

Sadly I think that whilst there were a number of individual contributing factors each on its own was probably not grossly negligent or unusual. In that regard the actual incident itself was largely an accident (in the same way as there are accidents on our roads all the time - and whilst there are often people at fault - there is also often no single massive error of judgment)

The only matter which really might have been wholely unreasonable at the time is failing to establish the safety of the yacht after the close quarters situation. A jury will ultimately determine if it was reasonable of the OOW not to further investigate the safety of the other vessel. I think that is going to be a difficult call for a jury of laymen who are acting in hindsight.
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Old 16 April 2007, 15:11   #19
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[QUOTE=Polwart;194867] aidan - you have a bit of an bizzare attitude - almost as though you are so experienced/knowledgable/wise that this could/would never happen to you (in spite of suggesting it nearly did). If you care enough to spend the time typing here - at least read the bloody bulletin for leisure boaters .

Yeo Polwart, Its not that I do not care, of course I do, its just that I know that the answer is not within the report. if it was, you fellows would have picked it up by now. I have a pretty good idea what can happen and what he causes are and I have a vivid imagination of the events unfolding in my mind.
It doesnt matter tho, the circumstances were as they were and what happened obviously happened. As it happens I do have what I would deem as sufficient experience as I have well over 10 k at sea crusing with alot of noght experience and the only reason that it was a near miss is that I did not wish to commit a Mutiny or upset the idiot of a skipper any more than I needed to, i was in control of the situation and was near to cutting the tiedown of the life raft where by then I would have taken control of the helm.

I only take over when needed. Furthermore we were ona 50 ft yacht of which I had much experience and was not concerned as to the wash.
I also never took my eye off the other boat and was fully aware of what needed to be done. The same coaster had radar and did not answer their radio. Finally I would not have been surprisd if the OOW was as pissed as a fart with the ship on auto. At the bery least I assumed this to be the case.

With several hundred yards to go I pulled a hardturn to Starboard of more than 90 degrees with the engine in full drive to make our intentions most obvious on any Radar. Once the Coastr had passed safely (though I could clearly hear its engines throbbing off into the night), I made a further turn toPort tothe original course to take any wash head on. We were hanked on for Night Watch post Tabs and Colours down as was the rules.

Finally dear Polwart, I am not a man to take chances with life or limb. Do let me know if the report has anything new in it please. I doubt it.
As mentioned before, I had oft 16 bodies under my care and my job was to return with 160 fingers (inc Thumbs) working intact.
Not withstanding, I have been known to be bizzare on more than one occasion. I will have a look at this site though as you recommend it "strongly"

I am not new to boats and I have been boating/yachting since before the advent of the Mirror Dingy.
I am often amazed though at the arrogance of people buying new boats and heading of to sea as if it were a car. I can see why you may be slightly irked at people being unaware of any dangers.
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