It’s foggy. So foggy in fact that you can’t see more than 50m in front of your boat. For whatever reason, you NEED to get into a harbor, as opposed to staying out in safe water while you wait for the fog to dissipate. What do you do? Well, the first thing you don’t do is ask me to take the ship into the harbor, because of all the things I did on my recent Yachtmaster exams, I think I did the most poorly on the blind pilotage exercises.
If you did find yourself in the situation above, the basic strategy (sans functioning chartplotter) would be to plot a course to one side or the other of the harbor, as opposed to directly at it. Once you reach a certain pre-selected depth of water, you should be able to follow the depth contour as shown on the charts to slowly but safely navigate your way in. As an example, once you reach 10m of water, make course corrections so that the depth of water under the boat stays about the same as you move in the direction of the harbor. Sounds simple, right?
When we did this during our course, and then later on the exam, the person being tested was down below with only a paper chart to guide them. He would call up courses to steer to the helmsman while in return, the helmsman would call back depth information to the navigator. As you can imagine, there is a bit of a time delay that occurs during this process. Of course, during the prep and exam, this all happened in broad daylight with good visibility but to the person down below, that didn’t mean anything because he was essentially blind to what was going on up on deck.
As I said, I need a bit more practice on this. I do think it would be significantly easier to do from the helm and with a chartplotter right in front of you but with that said, I do hope to avoid any situations where I will be forced to put this particular skill into practice.
This is where we practiced this skill, the entrance to the St. George’s harbor.
Just for fun, I typed out all the sound signals that we were required to learn with the ones further down the list relating to restricted visibility situations (fog) as described above (legend at bottom).
- _ I am altering course to starboard
- _ _ I am altering course to port
- _ _ _ I am operating with astern propulsion
- _ _ _ _ _ Your intensions are unclear / I do not think you are taking enough evasion action
- ______ ______ _ I wish to pass you on your starboard side
- ______ ______ _ _ I wish to pass you on your port side
- ______ _ ______ _ I agree with your intention to pass me
Restricted visibility (sounded at 2 minute intervals)
- ______ Power boat underway
- ______ ______ Power boat underway but stopped
- ______ _ _ The following boats underway: Sail boat, vessel not under command, vessel restricted in it’s ability to maneuver, vessel constrained by draft, fishing vessels
- ______ _ _ _ Sound signal given by vessel being towed, if it is manned (following the towing vessels signal ______ _ _ ),
- ______ _ _ _ _ Pilot boat underway
- ______ ______ _ _ _ _ Pilot boat underway but stopped
Anchored/aground (sounded at 1 minute intervals)
- bbbbb -Vessel under 100m at anchor
- bbbbb ggggg – Vessel over 100m at anchor (gong sounded in aft of vessel)
- _ ______ _ – Vessel at anchor warning signal
- B B B bbbbb B B B – Vessel under 100m aground
- B B B bbbbb B B B ggggg – Vessel over 100m aground
- _ Short blast on horn/whistle – 1 second in length
- ______ Long blast on horn whistle – 4-6 seconds in length
- bbbbb Rapid ringing of bell – 5 seconds
- B Distinct stroke on the ship’s bell
- ggggg Rapid ringing of gong – 5 seconds
Public Service Announcement 🙂 Stop right here! Please click this link to vote for our buddy Carlton Grooms in the Tommy Bahama Rumologist contest before continuing. You have until Monday October 10th at 9:00 p.m. PST to let TB know who should be the very first rum ambassador.