More Navigation Rules Series – Commercial Vessel Situations

Large commercial ship approaching a sailboatIf at all possible, stay out of areas where there is commercial vessel traffic such as shipping lanes or traffic separation zones. Large ships and barges have special problems in maneuvering and cannot and will not get out of your way.

Think about it, even with an elevated bridge, when you are looking out over a deck that may be the length of a football field there is a cone of invisibility area a certain distance in front that can not be seen. In that area you will also be invisible to the radar.

In addition a fully loaded ship, even going at a relatively low-speed, may take miles to come to a complete stop.

Just remember it is not a good idea to “tangle with a tanker.”

If you must operate around commercial vessels, take heed of the following:

  • Avoid ship channels. If you must cross, do so at right angles and as quickly as possible.
  • Be alert. Watch for traffic.
  • Be seen, especially at night.
  • Know the sound signals, especially the danger or doubt signal.
  • Keep your VHF radio tuned to channel 16 and listen carefully.
  • Order all aboard to wear PFDs.
  • Be familiar with the area and have current navigation charts.
  • Don’t be a non-survivor of a collision with a large ship.

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Navigation, Rules of the Road, Sailing News

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