Atlantic Challenge 2011

N 43° 39' W 08° 59'

Update to Part 5

December 04, 2011

I have had a couple of messages about the “ship incident” I mentioned in my last update. It seems that the general feeling is that I was determined to hold my ground no matter what, and wasn’t happy that the ship didn’t alter course. This wasn’t the case, and here is some background information to the situation.

1) The first rule in the collision regulations is that all vessels must keep a proper lookout. As previously mentioned, this is not always easy when sailing singlehandedly, but that ship would certainly have had someone [supposedly] doing exactly that. The fact that they completely failed to spot a yacht displaying the correct lights, and carrying a radar reflector to increase the radar signature, surely amounts to gross incompetence.

2)I wasn’t being “belligerent” or “stubborn”. The collision regulations are also quite clear in that the stand on vessel, i.e. the one with right of way, must not alter her course- this leads to uncertainty (as with two men in a doorway) and can be a danger in itself. Only when a collision is deemed inevitable will the stand on vessel take avoiding action. I had already, I felt, pushed this by bearing off, but crucially the lights I was displaying to the coaster remained the same.

3) In the dark, on your own, in a moving yacht in rough weather it is not always easy to identify exactly what is what. Is the white light you see the mass of decklights of a distant ship? Or is it the steaming light of a much closer one about to run you down? As I said, I had been keeping an eye on it for some time, and had taken the precaution of handsteering, enabling a quick response.

I may be a little crazy to be making the whole trip in the first place, but I am not stupid enough to play chicken with something as deadly as a big ship. (And frankly, if anybody thinks I am, I feel vaugely insulted.) I hope this offers some insight, and that I have set any worried minds at rest. Thanks.


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