Fog and a swarm of fishingboats
South Pacific Familyadventure 2008
Wed 10 Aug 2022 23:54
Having our route close to land we seemed to enter the "highway" for all fishingboats coming out from Ria Muros which lead to an hour glued to the radar.
The first two had their names on AIS and answered the VHF when we called and allthough not speaking English we managed to agree on meeting starboard to starboard. The last boat of the swarm was the major problem. The name was visible on AIS but no one answered the VHF. Approaching us on collision course on port side we remained on steady course and speed. Coming closer on collisioncourse I entered the flybridge for better visibility and better manouver capability. In the end the fishingboat passed just aft of Dora Mac. I could hear it`s engines but never saw the boat.
Being at home in these waters and used to fog they probably had full control, but for us outsiders it was demanding. It´s much easier with the cargoships who are normally steady on course, allways answer VHF,and allways speak English.
Some days later we were in a similar situation trying to agree with a fishingboat to meet port to port. Finisterre Radio overheard our talk and assisted with translation to avoid misunderstandings.
Misunderstandings between boats on collisioncourse in fog have lead to many catastrophies where perhaps the collision between Swedish M/S Stockholm and Italian M/S Andrea Doria on the North Atlantic is one of the most famous (the story is on this blog several years ago).
AIS combined with VHF is a very valuable aid but it requires a manned VHF and Englishspeaking crew.