Ouzo - an interesting viewpoint re the MAIB report

webcraft

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An interesting viewpoint.

If the bearing is steady or nearly so then we usually alter course obviously to port (i.e. by at least 30 degrees) at a range of between one and two miles (eyeball, no radar) whether we are the stand-on vessel or not.

Sometimes after we have done so we realise that the ship has also altered. This has never caused a problem though.

Ships that alter for us tend to do so when they are quite close, typically the same distance, betwen one and two miles. If they can see you then they know exactly what they have to do to miss you and may make a very subtle course alteration. This may not be immediately obvious and of course you don't know whether or not they have seen you.

So - I think we already do the 'ships and yachts don't mix' thing - but only once a ship gets inside our comfort zone.

- Nick
 

Allan

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I agree, a very interesting viewpoint, in particular the point about reflective tape ect. I will be looking into that for my boat.
While I think the tests on radar reflectors is a good start, I was surprised they only did them in a lab. I seem to remember when PBO did some testing on the water they had some strange results. From memory, there were circumstances when fitting a reflector reduced the returned signal. Maybe we could get PBO to make the report available on this site? I'm not saying we should all remove our reflectors, just get a better idea of what may be happening, when we add a reflector. I would also like to think something positive comes out of the Ouzo disaster.
Allan
 
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Seems to me that the suggestion in the article that Colregs should be amended to say: [ QUOTE ]
A simpler set of rules might be to state that yachts and ships don’t mix. If they do mix then yachts always give way.

[/ QUOTE ]
is completely wrong headed. The speed that ships move at compared to small yachts means that sometimes it can be difficult for yachts to keep out of their way, no matter how hard you try, which should surely be one of the lessons from Ouzo. It can be even harder if several of them are coming from different directions with potential course changes.

Of course common sense says that in practise whatever Colregs says, a small yacht should do its best to keep out of the way of big ships. But much more importantly than any breach of Colregs, the small boat crew face the death penalty if they get it wrong. But ultimately it should be the responsibility of ships' captains to ensure that they don't run anyone down.
 

Csail

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This bit is interesting--- Some ocean crossing sailors have fitted all around white strobe lights as “steamer scarers”. These don’t comply with any international regulation, but if the choice is “be seen or be squashed”, maybe there’s a case for a traditional naval blind eye to the regulations being applied.
So good idea but what are the legalities?
 

NPMR

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Do the Col Regs have a rule about flashing strobe lights? Is there anything to say that you CAN'T have one and if it's a good idea, they could be fitted to boats anyway?

My Brother-in-law is master of a P&O ferry and he is constantly appalled at how invisible yachts are. For his pennyworth, all sails should be coloured (He loves sailing with us so is not anti-yachts, just their invisibility, which causes him real worries.
 

Bergman

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I agree.

It would be a serious error to remove any responsibility from ships.

It would appear that the intention is to differentiate on the basis of leisure and commercial vessels.

Does that mean that a charter yacht operates to different set of rules to a privately owned one.

Numerous possible anomolies.

It would not seem sensible to make such radical changes on the basis of a single incident, however tragic. Isn't there a saying about hard cases making bad law.
 

Twister_Ken

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Curious that no one seems to conclude that ships should keep a proper lookout, as they are mandated to do under Colregs.

A lot of whining about undermanning of bridges, as if it's inevitable. Bollux. There are millions of unemployed around the world. Get a half of a half of one percent of them onto bridges, and give then some binoculars. Yes, shipping costs will go up, but divide a few more minimum wage lookouts into several thousand containers per voyage (or barrels of oil, or whatever) and it won't even put a penny on a pair of trainers.

One more thing. Why do merchantmen always claim that yachts are difficult to see? Whenever I'm at sea I have no difficulty in seeing yachts, even many miles away. Could it be because they are warm and dry, behind salt streaked glass, with other functions to perform, and other distractions around them, rather than in the open, doing very little other than looking-out?
 

boatmike

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While I agree with that I think it is not what the writer of the article intended to convey.
Yes the colregs are supposed to be our bible but IMHO too many yachties take the regs too literally and out of context. The regs also say in effect that if it looks as if it is all going to rats, the stand on vessel should take all possible actions to avoid collision too. To me the only problem with that is that if the intention is not clear then BOTH vessels might change course to collide so I would like to take that action sooner rather than later.
No, I believe he meant is what I often assume, which is deliberate applied paranoia. They are all out to get me and I ain't gonna let them. If there is any doubt whatsoever I make a very definite and obvious change of course to avoid close quarters situations with big ugly steel things even if I do in theory have the right of way. The saddest epitaph I ever heard of on a gravestone was "but I had right of way"
There are old sailors, and bold sailors... but no old bold sailors...
 

jamesjermain

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It's a thoughtful and well reasoned piece.

Dayglo sails could well improve daylight visibility and retroreflective strips certainly flash brightly when lit by a torch or searchlight. However, they also flash when lit by lights on board the yacht and can damage night vision so should be used with caution.

I'm in the anti-strobe court because, although they can be seen from a great distance, they give very little idea of the range of the light and can even be misleading on direction.

I am very concerned about the proposal for pleasure craft to give way to all commercial vessels. For one thing the larger pleasure craft are at least as big as the smaller commercial vessels. Definitions are going to be very difficult to frame. And how is a commerecial craft to be identified at night - more lights up the mast to confuse? But my main concern is that, if commercial ships are given a licence to plough on regardless, many situations will develope where small yachts and motorboats can't get out of their way.

In practice, of course, we all operate on the 'might is right' principle, but when it comes to the crunch I strongly believe all vessels should be singing to the same tune.
 

Dalliance

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I have a little more sympathy for the difficulties of our visibility to "merchantmen". How many road accidents are caused by drivers "not seeing" cyclists and motorcyclists because the driver is more mentally attuned to looking for fast moving cars which is what he sees most often. This isn't excusable, it is simply the psychological reality and has led to cyclists and motorcyclists making themselves more visible. I'm not saying that our relevant lack of visibility (through our smaller size, relative infrequency and the different perspective from the ship's bridge) makes it permissible for shipping to run us down but we can make ourselves more visible by small investments - equivalent to cyclists wearing fluorescent sam brownes. Ouzo carried what was, by any standards, a poor radar reflector which was also likely to have been poorly suspended according to the MAIB report. I have fitted a TriLens radar reflector as used by the US Navy to my boat for less than a Firdell and at less weight. Since each of the three lenses is gimballed in a different plane, the radar reflection is consistent as the yacht heals. We must accept that yachts are not very visible to ships at night and we must maximise our radar visibility.
 

graham

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I will probably get flamed for this but while the OUZO incident was a great tragedy it is also a very unusual event .

Considering the number of yachts and ships in our congested waters it amazes me there arent many more disasters of this type.

Tragic accidents happen almost on a daily basis on our motorways yet we dont all start going on about rewriting the highway code or lobby for better designed cars.

I think that lessons can be learned from any accident,this is where tyhe MAIB report comes in.Talk of rewriting colregs etc etc is IMHO ridiculous.

In a small yacht You need to either keep out of the way or make damn sure you can be seen.Very difficult to keep out of the way when being overtaken by a vessel doing 5 times your speed so have a very bright light available and in extremis use white flares. A constant 360°lookout is needed in busy waters.Enough has allready been said about radar reflectors,all I will add is that mines a big one.

I once watched a "lookout" on a cross channel trip aboard a very well equipped yacht spend 20 minutes sat under the sprayhood ,not once looking forward. We passed at least 10 ships in that 12 hour crossing.When I suggested a look around the horizon every 5 minutes he looked at me as if I had recently stepped in something.


No disrespect to the Ouzo crew is intended.We have no way of knowing for sure what efforts they made to be seen.With no survivors their side of the story will never be heard.
 

Richard10002

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I have suggested, in several rules and collision type threads, that the safest way to avoid a collision situation, (and a collision), with a large vessel is to keep out of its' way... you could call this "defensive sailing", which may be similar to "defensive driving".

As long as the yachts action is taken well before there is a chance of a situation developing, it doesnt really matter what you do.

I often think of Peter Reid saying to his Sunderland players "If you've got the effing ball, they cant effing score!"

It's not always possible in crowded waters, but should definitely be in the armoury of the leisure sailor.

Big ships are generally well lit and can usually be seen from a yacht long before any situation arises, so there shouldnt be too much difficulty in identifying what the big ship is doing, and formulating a defensive plan.
 

deep denial

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100% agree, this is one tragedy but only one. The colregs to me seem pretty sensible, but no rules will guarantee perfect safety, and changing them might result in a far worse situation. Let's not forget either that the Ouzo accident did not happen due to a failure of the right of way part of the colregs, but a failure of the lookout part, for one reason or another.
 

jamesjermain

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Incidentally, I am extremely concerned that the EC should be considering changing colregs. The EC only has jurisdiction (if it has any at all) over European waters. Can you imagine the confusion when a European and a non-European ship meet close the the EC territorial limits. /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif
 

Barr Avel

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[ QUOTE ]
Incidentally, I am extremely concerned that the EC should be considering changing colregs. The EC only has jurisdiction (if it has any at all) over European waters. Can you imagine the confusion when a European and a non-European ship meet close the the EC territorial limits. /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

James, having read the article, all I can see is that the EC is reportedly backing a suggestion to the IMO. I can see no reference to them suggesting unilateral action.

Just thought I'd point that out before the anti-EU lobby went off on one...

Marc.
 

gandy

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[ QUOTE ]
Curious that no one seems to conclude that ships should keep a proper lookout, as they are mandated to do under Colregs.

[/ QUOTE ]
There was quite a bit in the Ouzo report about lookout failure, and I've seen it stressed in other reports as well.

However I agree that some of the discussion seems a little defeatist. Smells a little of "lookouts aren't used anymore, replaced by Radar" followed by "your boat doesn't show up on Radar so you need to do something about it".
 

boatmike

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Quite right. That's what I meant by "paranoid" action. I usually adopt the same attitude in pubs when blokes are big and hairy.... I keep out of ther way cos if they bump into me when they are not looking I don't fancy debating who's fault it was afterwards!
 
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