Dodging Ships in the Night

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 25 May 2014 03:56
Noon Position: 35 08.2 N 131 02.5 E
Course: North east Speed: 5 knots
Wind: South west F3 gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell South west ½ meter
Weather: sunny and warm
Day's run (noon to noon): 98 nm

Despite the light airs we have made pretty reasonable progress over the last 24 hours, close to 100 miles. Now we are running comfortably before a gentle breeze with the jib poled out to port. I have ended up a fair way off shore during the night but that seems to be a good thing, as it is outside the shipping lanes that run up the coast and we also seem to be further out than most of the fishing boats go, except for a few squid boats, and at night these are lit up so brightly they can be seen as a bright beacon shining high into the sky from over ten miles away, the source of the light well below the horizon. So I do not mind squid boats, as they are easy to see, and because they are generally drifting they are easy to avoid. Big ships on the other hand, now tend to make me very nervous.

Towards sunset we rounded the island of O-Shima, which stands a little way out from the north western headland of Kyushu, and as we did so there was a sudden concentration of shipping heading in all directions, either emerging from or entering the Inland Sea, or continuing north and south along the coast. Fortunately there was sufficient breeze to give us reasonable manoeuvrability, so we were able to stay out of everyone's way without any difficulty. This time I did not bother talking to any of them on the radio, but just assumed that that the ships were all on autopilot with everyone on the bridge fast asleep. This is no doubt very unkind on mostly very competent crews, but the problem is how can one know which ships are which.

So we have made it safely through the night and I am looking forward to a few more day's sailing before we are forced to enter port due to weather or mishap (I do not trust the struts that I made up for the wind vane from bits and pieces from the hardware store, and I have been mulling over how to improve on them with the materials that I have available to hand).

All is well.