Day 122 – Haircut Two

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 14 Apr 2022 09:02
Noon Position: 16 36.3 S 071 41.1 E
Course: NNW Speed: 6 knots
Wind: ESE F4 Sea: slight
Swell: ESE 2m
Weather: overcast, warm, humid
Day’s Run: 162nm

We have continued to make excellent progress in that most reliable of winds, the trade wind. At 1750, having made enough northing and with the wind firmly in the ESE, we bore away a little to the NNW and poled the jib to starboard, and have been running comfortably wing-on-wing since.

The only incident of interest in the past 24 hours was a relatively close encounter with a merchant ship, the Navios Azimuth. We initially picked the ship up on AIS at about ten miles to the NE tracking WNW at ten knots. AIS consistently showed her as having a CPA (closest point of approach) of one mile ahead of us but as I watched the ship get closer, riding high in the water, obviously in ballast, I could notice no significant bearing change. Now here is where I find myself in a dilemma. The rules clearly state that a sailing vessel has right of way over a power driven vessel and if a risk of collision is deemed to exist then the vessel with the right of way is obliged to hold her course and speed and the give way vessel should make a bold and early alteration of course and/or speed (preferably course because that is much easier to discern) that can be clearly seen by the stand on vessel. Now obviously there is a certain amount of common sense in the application of such rules between a large power driven vessel and a small yacht, what the rules would call the “observance of good seamanship” and there is nothing to stop a small sailing vessel altering course to avoid the much larger ship even if she has right of way, as long as she does so early enough such that it is obvious to the larger ship and can cause no confusion. However, there comes a time when such an action can cause confusion and contribute to a collision and so, in those circumstances, the stand-on vessel must stand on.
Anyway, I won't get on my soapbox. Suffice to say that we safely passed clear of one another but the incident left me wondering about the bridge culture aboard large merchantmen these days. There was a time when I could always expect a merchantman to be courteous and follow the rules to the letter no matter the size of the ship, but now it seems no more. Aye, when I was a lad …

This forenoon I gave myself a second haircut for the voyage, no doubt no less of a shocker than the first; and I had a good bucket bath in the cockpit. It is of course much warmer as we get into the tropics, the sea temperature is 27 degrees and the maximum air temperature is 30 degrees. It doesn’t take long to become hot and sweaty again. At the moment I am spending a lot of time sitting shirtless under one of Sylph’s fans. What a difference a few degrees in latitude makes to the degrees in Celsius.

All is well.