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Sailing on the night of July 4th-I stopped doing this a long time ago

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This hits really close to home.

Surprised it has not happened before now.

All the pictures on the national news show the damaged boats at the ramp. The sailboats moored in the background are at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. I sailed out of CGSG for 40+ years.

Every year you have kids, in daddy's 500 HP fishing boat running at speed through the boat making their way back to the ramp.

Haven't been out there, at all, in many years.

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They have the wrong picture.

The largest boat was a 36ft open fish.

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Only two? That's a miracle.

Actually, I suspect that the anchorage and mooring field saw less use this 4th of July, due to the passing presence of Hurricane Arthur, which really churned up the bay.

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We have almost got killed enought times around Annapolis that our FIRM rule for watching fireworks there is we are on a city mooring and make no attempt to go anyplace that night. Once was MORE than enough running up to Baltimore in a powerboat. We had to dodge so many "stealth boats" running with no lights coming home we ended up making every single passenger take a sector and be a lookout. It was like WW II convoy duty. I once got a lot of cursing and unique Shore style death threats for calling the USCG on a 6 boat raft that was dead center in the main channel of the Chester with NO LIGHTS at all on the 4th a few years ago :ph34r:

 

This past 4th we did an isolated creek on the Eastern Shore with a good view of fireworks. It is a dead-end creek and we were at the end, so it felt safe. Everyone in every kind of boat was doing fine until the one farging icehole comes through on plane totally ignorning all the rafted boats and swimmers. I guess getting that last 1/4 mile at speed was SUCH an emergency :angry::angry:

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Of course we don't do the 4th of July but we do the "Celebration of Light" every year which is a similar venue with huge fireworks displays. Of course this is after dark and everyone and there dog with a boat are out on the water. A lot of time with very little experience running about at night or just drunken wankers. Most of us in the "real" boating community no better to go out that night. Friggin' scary.

 

One of those nights a power boat mowed down a tug & barge coal carrier. I understand they went between the tug & tow. They had 14 people aboard coming back from the fireworks. They didn't have a chance against a coal barge. 5 people lost their lives - utter stupidity!!!

 

From Transport Canada:

 

 

Summary

The tug Jose Narvaez was outbound from Vancouver harbour, at night, towing the coal-laden barge Texada B.C. on a 274 m cable towline. The operator of the pleasure craft Sunboy did not realize that they were approaching a tug/tow combination and passed between the tug and the barge. The propellers of the Sunboy became fouled in the towline, and the pleasure craft was struck by the on-coming barge, and capsized. As a result, some people were thrown into the water and others were trapped within the vessel's enclosed spaces. Of the 14 people who had been on board the Sunboy, nine were rescued and survived, four drowned and one remains missing and is presumed drowned.

I'm surprised there isn't more of this. 4th of July or not.

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When I read that all I could think of was "how could two boats collide there"? thinking of the bridges over College Creek not the "new" Severn River bridge for Rte 450!

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We have an end-tie slip on Lake Union in Seattle. Every single year, every single one, we have seen the lake fill up with boats. We stay right on our dock. We don't move. It makes no sense whatsoever to go out and deal with amateur night with drunks on the water.

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I watched the Blue Angels from a small sailboat two years ago and on the way back to the boat ramp watched a few boats converge and then give way to a Balto FD boat. Seems a collision on the way back to the docks led to serious injury. Glad I had the sail for visibility, but man, no way you could get out of the way of a Donzi under the influence.

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I don't do 4th of July anymore. Was anchored in an approved viewing area in in the nineties Newport Beach, Ca. and hit by a powerboat not under control with moderate damage. The following year I invited some unvetted friends and their families aboard for a repeat with their teenage children, who were irritated that some hatches didn't close all the way for sitting (handles not in right position) proceeded to stomp on them 'till all the handles were broken. The parents weren't interested in in coughing up the repair costs because "kids do that all the time'."

 

Nope, 4th of July my boat is at the dock.

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We have an end-tie slip on Lake Union in Seattle. Every single year, every single one, we have seen the lake fill up with boats. We stay right on our dock. We don't move. It makes no sense whatsoever to go out and deal with amateur night with drunks on the water.

 

We did the same from Portage Bay.

 

Bumper boats on Lake Union with a bunch of unlicensed amateur drunks with a post fireworks hard on? No way, no how.

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The parents weren't interested in in coughing up the repair costs because "kids do that all the time'."

 

My kids don't.

 

If I had friends whose kids did 'did that all the time,' my 'friends' would be told that their 'lack of effective parenting skills (and unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their poor contraceptive skills)' mean that they and their kids are not permitted on or near my car/house/boat.

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We always get a few idiots off Solomons. Every few years, despite at least one USCG/DNR boat on station with flashing lights, some James Bond wannabe inadvertently tries to jump the spit at Pt Patience north of the bridge.

 

When we go out for the fireworks, we anchor close to shore, away from marinas or creeks (out of the road home). At the last "boom", the spreader lights come on and a watch with a "2 million cp" spot is posted to light up anyone who has us bore sighted. Once the idiots are gone, we douse the lights, up anchor and head home at reduced speed with sector watches posted who know how to read aspect and recognize a CBDR.

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Wow, scary stuff.

 

We've regularly done NYE on Sydney Harbour. We moor within about a mile of the Harbour Bridge, centrepiece of the fireworks, and then motor .

 

Not a single significant problem. Ever.

 

The volunteer rescue guys, water police and maritime authorities patrol the area really well, keeping the thousands of boats down to a 6(?) knot limit most of the way back to our mooring area. After the patrolled area ends some idiots open up the throttles but I can;t recall hearing of any incident.

 

If you're ever in Sydney at NYE, moor near Long Nose Pt at Balmain; it's a great night.

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The sport of firing out of date flares on Cowes Fireworks night ended when one fired from another boat hit a sailor in the chest. Killed. How could anyone be dumb or drunk enough to fire a flare in the direction of other boats?

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I always thought my worst nightmare would be sinking on the 4th with no radio and a pile of flares. I would get a lot of horns and clapping but no help :o

 

A word for non-USAians: It is fairly common for the 4th to be the first time a whole hoard of clueless idiots get their boats that they barely know how to start out at night since the 4th the year before.

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This reminds me of the story and legend of the Karen E. It appears that this scenario occurs too frequently.

 

I raced the last time they had the single hand round Long Island Sound race. I loved the experience but I'm not sure I would ever do that again. The lack of adequate lookout in the dark, and flashlights with dying batteries makes things truly scary. And then you see the tug a mile in front of the barge. And I don't recall if those lights means that the tug is hauling the barge. And I realize that I forgot the chart that details the meaning of the lights.

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This reminds me of the story and legend of the Karen E. It appears that this scenario occurs too frequently.

 

I raced the last time they had the single hand round Long Island Sound race. I loved the experience but I'm not sure I would ever do that again. The lack of adequate lookout in the dark, and flashlights with dying batteries makes things truly scary. And then you see the tug a mile in front of the barge. And I don't recall if those lights means that the tug is hauling the barge. And I realize that I forgot the chart that details the meaning of the lights.

Is that the powerboat that went between the tug and barge out by greenport? I always found that story so depressing. My dad used to remind me if that while shoving those piloting flash cards in front of me and saying "learn these light patterns." I was quite good at them for a while...kinda rusty now.

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And then you see the tug a mile in front of the barge. And I don't recall if those lights means that the tug is hauling the barge. And I realize that I forgot the chart that details the meaning of the lights.

(nothing personal here...) I find these statements surprising, even shocking. Granted, I've been driving big grey ships for 25 years, but still... I assume anyone out playing in big water (especially at night) knows COLREGs well enough to get lights and dayshapes - without a chart.

 

Yes, I've watched and heard idiot stinkpotters use the whistle like a car horn, and expect random stupidity from people close inshore during the day. I admit that while I can read signal flags, I've got no idea what they mean for racing. Perhaps horses-for-courses and all that.

 

Am I off base, or does the average near-coastal sailor really not know what three white lights in a vertical line mean?

 

My favorite that I used many times on long ocean passages: W-W-W-W in a vertical line, R-W-R vertical next to that, over R/G sidelights and Y-W stern light. Most everyone gets out of your way, lit up like that - at least the few that I could catch.

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Even if you can't understand the lights, prudence dictates if you see a lot of them you should stay the hell away!

 

There is a big FW display on our lake every year that we assiduously avoided. Damned dangerous with lots of overserved people going too fast, overloaded pontoon boats running their docking lights as headlights and my personal pet peeve, the asshole blinding everyone with his million candlepower Q-beam shining in the eyes of every boat he encounters. Boating of any sort on July Fourth is akin to driving after closing time on St. Patrick's Day: way too many impaired amateurs.

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We have an end-tie slip on Lake Union in Seattle. Every single year, every single one, we have seen the lake fill up with boats. We stay right on our dock. We don't move. It makes no sense whatsoever to go out and deal with amateur night with drunks on the water.

 

Do you remember the 4th of July when the NOAA pier burned--complete with yet to be converted 224 foot T-AGOS tied up to it? Cause was fireworks that got under it somehow, if I remember correctly.

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I am convinced that a very good portion of the people I encounter at night are confused by red and green lights, let alone anything more complicated. I saved a friend who tried to go "betweeen the boats" at 40 knots, not realizing the forward range light and the running lights aft were all on the same tanker and not two seperate vessels :o

 

The tug skippers are not 100% innocent themselves. Sometimes the barge lights are dead and they don't feel like trying to fix them.

Even worse was the guy that announced he was towing a dead ship with no lights on a 1000 foot tow line that was shearing back and forth northbound through the Gov Cup fleet headed south. I told him doing this through the biggest night race of the year was not the best idea, to put it mildly. He kept a spotlight on the ship after that :rolleyes:

 

 

 

And then you see the tug a mile in front of the barge. And I don't recall if those lights means that the tug is hauling the barge. And I realize that I forgot the chart that details the meaning of the lights.

(nothing personal here...) I find these statements surprising, even shocking. Granted, I've been driving big grey ships for 25 years, but still... I assume anyone out playing in big water (especially at night) knows COLREGs well enough to get lights and dayshapes - without a chart.

Yes, I've watched and heard idiot stinkpotters use the whistle like a car horn, and expect random stupidity from people close inshore during the day. I admit that while I can read signal flags, I've got no idea what they mean for racing. Perhaps horses-for-courses and all that.

Am I off base, or does the average near-coastal sailor really not know what three white lights in a vertical line mean?

My favorite that I used many times on long ocean passages: W-W-W-W in a vertical line, R-W-R vertical next to that, over R/G sidelights and Y-W stern light. Most everyone gets out of your way, lit up like that - at least the few that I could catch.

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While I do my best to understand the lights on the COLREGS there is one meaning that works for me when it comes to tugs and barges.

 

1) Stay away from barges under way.

2) Where there is a tug, there is likely a barge.

3) Stay away from tugs.

 

Lights? Thanks for being lit! :)

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The sport of firing out of date flares on Cowes Fireworks night ended when one fired from another boat hit a sailor in the chest. Killed. How could anyone be dumb or drunk enough to fire a flare in the direction of other boats?

That's a rhetorical question, right?

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Yep even non 4th events like our KFOG fire works show here in SF. Last time we did it by boat it was madness after the event. To make things more interesting as we motored away at about 5 knots we spotted a big piling floating in the water ahead of us. Classic power boater sea ray full of people hammered by us far closer than needed and promptly ran right over the big roughly 2ft diameter by about 20ft section of pier in the water. About the time we got to them one of their buddies blasted by just missed the pier by inches circled back and ended up giving them a tow in.

 

Just the number of power boaters who slam the throttle to the stops as soon as the fireworks are done and go ripping off into the dark is sheer stupidity. We haven't gone back by boat since. Too many stupid people running high speed boats.

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Had the Santana up on Dillon many yrs ago (15 actually) kid was alittle more than born actually. Now this is a no touch lake so resting on my knowledge of growing up on the great lakes and such in wisconsin we went out for the day then tied up to the guest dock to watch the show fully expecting a shit show, but safe in the knowledge that we were tied up safe and sound... Woah was I wrong. floating docks and idiots with no clew how to behave were throwing full wakes all trying to get to the ramp at least 100 yds down the beach. I had to fend off the horde and sent the wifey and kiddo to shore in fear for their lives with all the idiots trying to "raft" off or just "drop someone off". Mind you I was on the inside of the T dock to leward of the ramp and on the inshore side of the T, which was un-accessable for at least 100 yds of shoreline fully sprung down with all the fricking bumpers I could reasonably get out and I was there for at leasd 1-1.5 hrs before it even got dark... Never again the number of idiots that go out for that one time to watch is just insane Lake geneva was tame compared to that shit show.........

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Snip

 

 

The tug skippers are not 100% innocent themselves. Sometimes the barge lights are dead and they don't feel like trying to fix them.

Even worse was the guy that announced he was towing a dead ship with no lights on a 1000 foot tow line that was shearing back and forth northbound through the Gov Cup fleet headed south. I told him doing this through the biggest night race of the year was not the best idea, to put it mildly. He kept a spotlight on the ship after that :rolleyes:

 

On the Bay, my experience is that every tug has an unlit barge behind it and I plan accordingly.

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BrianM- It appears that you make a living operating big grey ships and it is necessary that you commit the lights to memory. For many sailors, the need to commit the lights to memory becomes a necessity on rare occasions. As a result, we learn them, forget them and when the needs arise, I (we) look to the display charts for the meaning of the lights.

 

I would like to point out that every time I hear a tug or barge blast 5 horns in daytime, most times the dayshapes are either non-existent or hard to distinguish in the rigging of the barge. I am quite honestly surprised that there aren't more accidents during the day. I've watched quite a few "rules of the road challenged sailors and power boaters" cross the bow of tugs followed by 5 horns from the tug or barge. I have also seen too many tugs speed up to boats coming dangerously close to collisions in the channels or on Long Island Sound.

 

My opinion is (based on observation) that commercial skippers sometimes abuse the "rules of the road" while many sailboat and powerboat skippers are ignorant of those same rules.

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My only time was in 1986, anchored in the lee of Island White in Long Beach for the Queen Mary FW show. By the time it was dark there were zillions of boats there with fouled anchors, drunk skippers and a bunch of expired flares. We waited a while after the show before heading home, but it was still the scariest bit of nighttime navigating I've ever done. Putting along at 5 knots in my 27' sailboat with all sorts of overpowered powerboats running every which way at full throttle, amazing no one died. My boat also stays in the slip on 7/4.

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BrianM- It appears that you make a living operating big grey ships and it is necessary that you commit the lights to memory. For many sailors, the need to commit the lights to memory becomes a necessity on rare occasions. As a result, we learn them, forget them and when the needs arise, I (we) look to the display charts for the meaning of the lights.

 

I would like to point out that every time I hear a tug or barge blast 5 horns in daytime, most times the dayshapes are either non-existent or hard to distinguish in the rigging of the barge.

Fair enough. I know enough of the Racing Rules to yell "mast abeam" and make my getaway in the resulting confusion.

 

I have deliberately closed many contacts at night just to figure out what they were - random lights hanging around, no obvious match to anything. Fishermen, usually; cruise liners are bad, aircraft carriers terrible. Light discipline is non-existent. Same thing is also true of dayshapes. Spend enough time staring with good binos and you can generally find the shape, maybe - with a good assumption what you are looking for and where.

 

But we (grey things) aren't without guilt. I was passed by a fleet oiler in the Florida Straits once (actually split our formation going the other direction) - who was displaying two sets of running lights. When I asked their intentions via VHF, I got "my intentions are honorable, over." I gave up.

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Mast abeam. LOL.

 

 

"Light discipline is non-existent."

 

Indeed.

 

I do happen to believe that if you can remember that port gives way to stbd, that you give way to those crossing from the right, and that overtaking give way to overtaken, one can and should damn well know that three white mastheads means tow on long towline and two whites means a short tow coming at you. OK, give someone a pass on some of the task light variations -- but towing?

 

One can see why states now have these boat drivers licenses. It's too bad--more bureaucracy--except that we need that now. Lots more boats and going fast boats.

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one can and should damn well know that three white mastheads means tow on long towline and two whites means a short tow coming at you.

Ah, therein lies the challenge. Used to flog my junior officers through this stuff.

Two whites could be:

- a large (>50 meters) power driven vessel doing nothing unusual

or

- a small (<50 meters) power driven vessel with optional lights doing nothing unusual

or

- a small (<50 meters) tug with a short tow (<200 meters)

 

Three whites could be:

- a small tug (<50 meters) with a long tow (>200 meters)

or

- a small tug (<50 meters) with a short tow (<200 meters) showing optional lights

or

- a large tug (>50 metes) with a short tow (<200 meters)

 

And you can't tell without radar or a different view (beam or stern). From a sailboat, I'd just assume they are all idiots and stay away from them.

 

Speaking of which - any idea how hard it is to see a sailboat (even with lights and reflectors) from a big ship?

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Actually, in keeping with the original thread, let me amend that.

 

Even from the deck of a ship equipped with "Gas Turbine Magic", I assume everyone else on the water is an idiot and trust them not.

 

Gas Turbine Magic = 100,000 shaft horsepower. Speed lets you get away from stupid, right until speed causes stupid.

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You left out could be pushing from astern or from the hip. And we didn't cover yellow towing lights for inland work (and even I forget which is double yellow, which is yellow over white, I'd have to look it up--and I should remember that!) [Just looked it up. Int'l is the yellow over white and inland push/hip is the dble yellow.] BUT at least you know that if you have two or 3 mastheads, be on lookout for a tow. Oh, I forgot to mention trawling. That's another one to be on the lookout for.

 

But you are right.

 

As for sailboat visibility. Yes, Very aware of that. The sailboat is tuned out with the wave clutter. that's why I think one is crazy to go offshore in the N.Atlantic without your own radar. I've had to make a security call and change course after finding a ship at close range (about 1 mile) on the every 20 minutes radar check, in thick fog.

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Funny but it could have been bad:

Tug sees us and kindly gives us right of way - we are sailing and he is powering after all. Well that was all nice and polite, but his barge had other ideas and is still going full speed ahead right at his stern. He finally responded to all the screaming, yelling, and pointing and looked aft - big cloud of black smoke followed as he slammed the throttle to full.

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That's the fun part of dragging stuff around. Tow a 9,000 ton ship at the end of a 1,000 foot wire rope, in deep water... You can't stop. Period. Even if you got the tow stopped, the weight of the wire hanging in the water is going to pull the two ships together and you will lose that law-of-gross-tonnage battle.

 

Makes man-overboard planning interesting. And yes, I know guys who have been hit by their own tow.

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The parents weren't interested in in coughing up the repair costs because "kids do that all the time'."

 

My kids don't.

 

If I had friends whose kids did 'did that all the time,' my 'friends' would be told that their 'lack of effective parenting skills (and unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their poor contraceptive skills)' mean that they and their kids are not permitted on or near my car/house/boat.

I'm shy. I talk with my feet and walk away. Goodby "friends".

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I thought W-W-W-W was either the QE2 or a boat with members of the Republican Party from Mississippi, Texas and or Missouri.

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