Earlier this week I received a request from our friend Ben Ellison at Panbo to poll our readers on the use of AIS. He was especially concerned with the upcoming release of AIS-B, vessel tracking system for boaters, and how the watch officers of large ships expected to process the increasingly large amounts of data on their radar screens. You can read that post HERE.
While writing the post I was curious about the other side of the equation namely, what do experienced boaters think about us? To answer my questions I contacted our friend Richard Rodriguez of BitterEnd blog, an experienced vessel assist Captain on one of nation’s busiest inland waterways; the Puget Sound. Here is his reply;
1) What should ships worry about when interacting with boats?
That most boats have no clue as to how to interact with ships. In the Licensing Courses I teach, I used to be surprised when folks indicated that they didn’t know ships do not guard channel 16. Ships should be afraid, very afraid, as most boats don’t have a clue, as to what to do or how to do it when they encounter a ship. Easily 1/3 of the boats I tow in the season, can’t give their Lat/Long, even though the have a GPS, let alone know about what to do related to ships. Boats usually run the other way; expect the unexpected.
2) Top 10 things I wish ships did to make boating safer?
1. Call a SecuritÃ©, on channel 16, to announce a departure from norm.
2. Slowed down, when transiting congested waterways.
3. Occasionally use channel 16 when unsure of a boat’s action.
4. – 10. I’ll let readers fill in the blanks in the comment section.
3) Top 5 close calls I’ve had with ships.
1. Hiding out in the Sep Zone as I was waked by ships on either side of me.
2. Being in restricted visibility with out a radar, before I knew the rules and almost hitting a CG Cutter off the Columbia Bar.
3. Attempting to beat a 900′ USNS RoRo across the lanes. – I lost.
4. – 5. I’ll let readers fill in the blanks in the comment section.
4) Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range… how to tell if a boater is unable to get out of the way.
CBDR – now there’s a concept. Joe Blow thinks that if he bumps the throttle a few hundred RPM’s that he can beat you across the VTS lanes. He has no idea that you’re pumping 20+ kts, five to seven miles away when he starts across the (1.25 nm) lanes at 5.5 kts.
5) Lessons learned from my years boating the Puget Sound.
Conditions change – be prepared for the worst case scenario. Always have a plan B and a plan C.
Practice, practice, practice. Can you navigate with traditional tools? If you’re a sailor – can you make it to your slip under sail? When was the last time you did a man overboard drill?
By all means remember that S**T HAPPENS. If you think that something is about to happen, it is “Deemed to Exist.” Don’t put your head in the sand and boldly keep going.
Also be sure to read his related articles: