Ships Blob Earth Bait Tues 11th Sept 007

Rebel T
Tim Walsh
Tue 11 Sep 2007 13:17

Dear Reader.
Skipper Tim here. It is just after dawn 07.30 in the morning, Rupert and I
am on watch and have been since 6am. Although the engines are still on, the
wind is increasing noticeably and perhaps we will set some sail within the
hour. Lets hope so. We are steering SW. Wind is currently about 8knts North.

We had a close encounter about an half hour ago, We picked up a ship moving
NE quickly we are going SE so coming straight across us. I plotted it on the
main radar and it began to look like a "close encounter". At 10 miles it
came up on the AIS Radar as doing 17knts at 47 degrees but no name. It was
large in the binoculars but hard to get in context. Context is always the
issue with ships in the night.(don't you find!)
The AIS updates or is meant to, every few seconds but, in usage it is often
patchy and sometimes we only receive updates every 8 or 10 minutes which is
too long once you begin to adapt your "Ship approaching protocol" to include
AIS as standard equipment and not, " Ooh....lets have a look on the new

At some point during the last week this change has occurred and I am bound
to say that the night Nav is a lot more certain due to it.
If a young man should should ask me, I would say "Yes young man, buy one"

Anyway, the AIS told us that the ship was the MSC Anthea. By watching the
AIS info we could see that she had slowed from 17knts to 12knts and changed
course to 42 degrees. This had been enough to mean that she would pass a
mile behind us and was a deliberate decision by that ships navigator.
This change was imperceptable visually and not discernible on the standard
radar till later, but was seen in the AIS alone. Because I saw the change, I
decided to make no change, thus remaining predictable.
Had the same event occurred before we had AIS, I think I would have altered
course and aimed at the ships stern. That is a safe thing to do from my
persective, but may well appear unpredictable to the ship which then thinks,
"bloody yachts" and makes further changes quickly while she still can, to
avoid the action of the yacht...and so it goes on.
Maybe a bit of a long story, but the different set of events that occured on
both vessels, ( us and the ship ) were a direct function of us having AIS.
That is important. Last night was more or less perfect vis with only a small
sea, seldom are conditions that good and sea space so available. Seriously
though for a second, if anyone is reading this from the ARC website
unbeknown to us, I mean it, when I say get out your 300quid and buy one.

In the light of the fact that last month a skipper of a ferry was prosecuted
for manslaughter of 3 yachtsmen just South of the Isle of Wight, judged to
be negligence on their part by the authorities, I decided to call up the
navigator on the MSC Anthea. First I thanked him for his "Early and clear
change of course". ( wording from the Collision Regulations ) I did it so as
to communicate our appreciation of his action. I know the rules exist and he
should move and all that but reality is different. I wanted him to know that
the inconvienient change he made meant a lot to us and that we were vigilent
for our own part. I was hoping that the navigator would be more inclined to
repeat his actions in future knowing they were observed and appreciated. It
may save a tradgey in the future, who knows.
I asked him when we first became visible and how far off and by what method.
We have changed our masthead tricolour from standard to LED bulb to save
electricity consumption for the Atlantic crossing and so I have been
concerned since the change, to know our vis. Some magazines have been saying
that LED's are not bright enough blah blah.
He saw us at 8 miles out by our lights and about the same time on his radar.
Again I changed our reflector from a long thin and easily placed reflector
to an awkward and much more expensive Echomax reflector. It was good to know
that our boat was reasonably visible in both modes. Money well spent.
I wished him safe voyage and went back "listening 16".

Our land fall is now visible on the starboard bow and Rupert has promised to
make bacon sandwiches at 8am. I am going back on deck so as not to delay the
event another second.

Upon reading , "Andy's quick blog (nightime)". I realised that I had stopped
telling you the music I was listening to at night and in quiet times, so
here we go...Last night I listened to Joan Beaz, "Diamonds and Rust" twice,
then "Sweeter for Me" 3 times. After that, Verve, "The drugs don't work"
once. Then "Say hello wave Goodbye" by Marc Amond with the London
Philharmonic Orchestra. Then "Sweeter for Me " again, Then of course..Bed,
well sleep, being as I was already in bed. And so ...Goodbye and Good
Skipper Timothy Colombus Ulysees Sensitive Quadboy Walsh. XXX