River cruising is safe... right?

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by cac, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. cac
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    cac Junior Member

    We always seem to get in a mindset that a simple river or coastal cruise isn't as dangerous or daring as an ocean voyage. I'm sure in many ways that is the case... you're much closer to the support structure (Coast Guard, tow boats, 911, etc.) that you can call on for assistance. At sea, you have yourself. Inshore, usually (not always) weather isn't going to be as BIG of an event, although it certainly can be downright dangerous.

    But, at sea, I think you probably have less problems with traffic... just like on the road in the urban areas where congestion leads to poor driving and more accidents, the crowded waters near shore seem to be a prime example.

    A couple of ocean-going ships collided in the Mississippi near New Orleans yesterday... both 700+ foot ships, with (I'm assuming), professional crews and all the gear... and one hit the other that was anchored (reports say). I know that a ship that size has limited maneuverability, etc. but I thought it just really pointed out how much danger traffic can be... they left serious holes in each other. If you or I collide with something that size, you probably won't find the pieces.

    See the CNN story for the details: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/16/ships.collide.ap/index.html?section=cnn_topstories
     
  2. longliner45
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    longliner45 Senior Member

    ya these 2 mega boats coulnd see each other ,,,and yet some still want to take a raft down the mississippi
     
  3. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Some one (can't remember who) once said, if you take two ships, put them on the ocean starting from different points, they will somehow run into each other. There's a lot less room on a river so the saying is even more apt. This is why there are traffic lanes, channel markers, and vessel traffic systems in major ports. Throw recreational boats into the mix and it's amazing there isn't more chaos than we have.
     
  4. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    That's why boats are wedge shaped at the front. To do maximum damage when they ram you.
     
  5. cac
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    cac Junior Member

    Ramming speed, Captain!

    Ah! So THAT explains it... never could figure that out :)
     
  6. SteamFreak
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    SteamFreak USMM

    in defense of merchant mariners in general, I will say the following. A lot of times if you don't see a situation developing well before hand... even seeing it 5 mins ahead of time may not be sufficient time to alter the outcome. Driving a big ship is like playing chess... you have to be planning 15 or 20 mins ahead of your position ATLEAST... most of the time, pilots are taking to other vessels (and pilots) half and hour to 45mins in front of them to plan their meeting on the confined channel.
     
  7. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    Like hitting a parked car, hey man I swear it jumped out in front of me.:D
     
  8. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    One minor thing 'parked cars' stay still, anchored ships unfortunately don't - wind and tide chuck them all over the place! In a small boat 'tis easy to stay well away, not so in a large vessel in the confines of a tight channel! Conversly proffessional mariners using pilots properly should be expected to get it right!
     
  9. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    I remember seeing a documentary on training ships helmsmen. They were sitting in small boats only a few metres long and they had to negotiate a narrow passage. But, to train them for steering large ships, the steering was timed to respond minutes (I can't remember how many) after they had turned the wheel to train them to think ahead. But it is amazing how many large ships ram each other.
     
  10. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    This is the facility in France. There is also one at Warsash in the UK and I'm sure many others.
     

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  11. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    It's not the helmsman who needs training :eek: (a monkey could do that), it's the officer of the watch who needs the training, all a helmsman needs is the ability to do as he's told :cool: (which these days can be problamatical in itself :eek: )! The best way to learn is on the job, playing with little models and simulators is all well and good but you can't beat the real thing :idea: (with an experienced senior officer watching, but only interfering IF SAFETY needs it)
     
  12. cac
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    cac Junior Member

    Boat practice

    That just really looks like fun :)

    I wonder if "simulators" of some type for the smaller craft world would be of any help (leaving aside the getting people to use them). Something that they could use "at home" or locally without traveling to get to water. It works for the airlines, but its BIG bucks.
     
  13. SteamFreak
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    SteamFreak USMM

    We do.... its called 360 days at sea to sit for license... Minimum hours of steering, minimum hours standing a watch, time observing docking and undocking ops, classes on vessel handling, bridge resource managment...

    Plus a third mate isn't the senior officer on the bridge during pilotage... In fact, it isn't even the second mate... most of the time the Captain is on the bridge when a pilot is onboard (atleast on American vessels). SO that's minimum three more years of sailing time and one more license test before an officer gets to the level where he/she would be the one telling the pilot that they disagree with the decision.... thats a total of 7 years of training, school, and on-the-job experience MIN... most of the time, you won't see a captain with less that 10 years sailing time taking a Capt's slot for the first time.

    What most accidents come down to is either sloppiness or simple inability to foresee potential events... such as a rudder suddenly going hardover with no imput from the bridge... or engine failure.... or power failure... or any of another 6 dozen possible events...

    Good helmsmen are rare... Its not something a monkey could do... In fact it takes a box of electronics the size of your desktop computer to replicate part of a skilled helmsman's capability and you still need manual inputs for sea conditions and such... when a ship comes into port, the quartermaster, who is generally the best helmsman, is the man on the wheel in difficult waters like the Shanghai approaches, Houston Ship Channel, Panama Canal locks, and other areas where holding one of these monsters steady is like balancing on top of a bowling ball.

    I despise those hold up cases like these and say "look, they screw it up. How did this happen?" 95% of the goods coming into the US move not by truck or plane or rail but by ship. Thousands of vessels come in and out of ports with no problem... We have fewer collisions amongst ourselves than the rail does and never does the loss of life match airlines or motor vehicles. I would pay to see the next fool who rolls around in a boat less than 150ft long tell me s/he can handle 1,000ft long, 96,000 long ton container ship from sea buoy to dock.
     
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  14. longliner45
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    longliner45 Senior Member

    steam freak........walrus is just busting your chops,,,,,besides his tail is 3ft long,,,,,,,,longliner
     

  15. SteamFreak
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    SteamFreak USMM

    I know... but I would like to take this opportunity to point to the vessel master group that does make traffic situations a nightmare. Sub-200 ton vessels like fishing boats (commercial) where there's no licensing seems to produce the most bizarre vessel actions I have ever witnessed... Just looking at the lists of NTSB reports on fishing vessel accidents makes you wonder where these guys come from... On the roads, they stick to their lane like glue but stick them in a channel with a head-on meeting situation with a big ship and they dance all over that channel like there's ants in their pants. And its not like they need to be in the channel anyway. Example is a report I just wrote a paper for about a collision involving a 600ft long container ship and some dinky little 80ft long fishing boat. Instead of just getting out of the channel for the 24,000 ton vessel, this guy just cuts right across to the left side of the channel and gets hit. He draws 12ft draft in an area that was some 6 fathoms deep at lowest low tide. Just get out of the channel...
     
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