Reading the River

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Yobarnacle, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Yobarnacle
    Joined: Nov 2011
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    Location: Mexico, Florida

    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Hi. A pilot knows the local waters like the back of his hand. Coast Guard exams for pilotage require drawing from memory on blank paper, an accurate scale chart of the waters, and a descriptive narrative of how to transverse including courses and distances. Then there are exams on aids to navigation, identification, and rules and regs, and traffic separation schemes.

    I know this because besides my Ocean master and Towing master licenses, I hold any gross ton 1st class pilot license for all 5 great lakes, Detroit river, St Clair River, St Mary's River, Welland Canal and US part of St Lawrence Seaway.

    Not trying to inpress only stating credentials for credibility.

    When you enter a strange river (many ports are up rivers), yachts (other than mega yachts) don't take pilots.

    Intent of this thread, is how do you "READ" the river.

    I know some things. Others of you know more. Together we can hopefully outline a compendium of knowledge valuable to all.
     
  2. Yobarnacle
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    Location: Mexico, Florida

    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Crossing the Bar
    The bar pilots have a dedicated channel. Frequently ch 9 in USA. They are happy to give you scheduled arrivals and departures and current locations and ETAs of commercial traffic. If, you keep them advised of your itinerary and progress. It is helpfull to know the names of the vessels youre meeting or overtaking you. It allows you to refuge in a good spot, untill a pinch is clear long enough for you to pass without "close quarters" developing.

    Stay outside the channel when ever possible. Cross channel at right angles when swapping sides, to clear promptly.

    Fastest current is outside of bends. low current, dead water, even counter eddies inside of bend.

    area directly down current of inside bends shoal. even too shallow for your small vessel.

    S bends can be tricky, because the outside of a bend suddenly is the inside of the next and you are in a shoaling area.
     
  3. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Operating Inland with deep draft and you will run aground frequently . When grounding is imminent, favour the up current or the windward side of the channel so that the current or wind pushes you free.


    When running in from the MoA welcome buoy, always take back bearings to judge set.

    Always use the welcome bouy and approach an unknown coastal landfalls at right angles with the sun on your back.
     
  4. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Thankyou Michael for agreeing to co-host this thread.

    I'm going to be a bit reticent and allow others to hold forth.

    I'll stick in 2 cents worth from time to time.

    premise, (one we all have heard and I'll give my opinion later)

    "Still waters run deep!" True or false?
     
  5. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Back to pilots information: Even if you don;t check in with bar pilots, monitoring their channel will provide you with the information they broadcast to inbound or departing commercial traffic. The coast pilot gives pilot frequencies for all US ports.
    more than one vhf radio is handy to monitor all the channels a prudent navigator wants to. They can be walkie talkies (hand held portables)
     
  6. michael pierzga
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    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Yah, when in doubt, stay out of the ripples. Accelerated water, ripples, may indicate a reef

    When in crossing a fishing bouy or net asssume its set on a reef...shallow water, beware.

    Stand clear of longliners at night, they will charge at you at speed if your course threaten there gear. Shots maybe fired

    Never cross a stern dragger. If they slow or change course they may loose there gear. Shots maybe fired

    White flares indicates a submarine surfacing...not a distress...stand clear. Shots may be fired.
     
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  7. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    I think that most recreational boaters dont know how to use VTS or Bridge to bridge. Radio communications seems to intimidate them
     
  8. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    At hull speed or less, trimming slightly bow down offers advantages. One, your rudders and props are protected better if the bow takes bottom first.
    Two: Bank cushion and suction. Your props will suck toward a shoal alongside. Deeper in the bow causes pivot of vessel to move forward. because the stern moves toward the shoal, the bow aims away from it. If your vessel wants to hunt deeper water, let it, unless it puts you in another vessels path.
     
  9. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    improved bank vs unimproved bank.

    Whats the meaning and why is it important?
     
  10. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Here is an unusual way to "read" a barred estuarine opening, by looking at a computer screen !

    http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR083.shtml

    Radar returns showing as rain, when there is no rain showing elsewhere in the area, in the gap between the point north of Rainbow Beach, and Fraser Island to its north, are a likely signature of a substantial swell breaking on the extensive bar there, with the salt spray and mist mimicking precipitation and fooling the radar. Saves going out to check if the bar is passable, I've been told.
     
  11. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Yah...bank cushion effect. Similar to the effect when passing thru a lock...you just cant get close to the wall because waterpressure is forcing you away...you must use spring lines and power to pull her in.
     
  12. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Thankyou Mr Efficiency. Please enlighten us on Down Under tactics and regional needs.
     
  13. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Improved and un-improved banks.
    Frequently running rivers, one bank or side will be developed. Docks and wharfs. You know there is good water alongside for vessels deeper than yours. Beware you don't get in the way of vessels docking or undocking. Finding yourself between an arriving ship and it's berth, , makes skinny tugboats. Or yachts.

    The un-improved or "wilderness" bank may seem attractive for lack of traffic, but beware. May be shoal. May have debris. Or timbers or rotted off pilings. Picking up an old wire cable in your wheels makes for a bad day.
     
  14. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Oh and tell me...I need a new dedicated chart plotter to display raster scan Admirality charts. I dont want a PC with software and a EDICS unit is too complex, expensive. Navionics plotters are junk. What is availble down under? Ive tried to internet research but Im lost in Ejargon
     

  15. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Michaels cautions against passing close astern trawlers doubly applies to tows. I'm not taliking about pushboats with barges on the head. Never pass between a tug and it's tow. and stay far astern of tow when crossing. In open roadsteads headed for sea, the tug streams a pickup line from the barge before lengthening tow. Ussualy the stern tug crew does this when stern tug released.
    This pickup line has a small buoy on the end, and is a messenger to the emergency tow wire for recapturing the barge in event she parts the tow gear. This pickup line may trail 600 ft behind.

    Catching it in your wheels adds you to the tow. Next stop ....?
     
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