Wednesday, December 5, 2007


For a number of reasons it may be necessary to plan a vessel's passage to arrive at a berth, turning basin, or lock at a specified time. The master or pilot may wish to dock at slack water, or the tugs or berth may not be available until a particular time. This is a routine navigational problem.

When timing arrivals, the mariner often attempts to arrive exactly as scheduled and allows no time for unforeseen delays. Any reluctance to arrive early and have to maneuver the ship to hold her in position in a channel for some period of time is natural but unnecessary. The ship can easily take an hour to go the last mile to a desired point so there is no reason not to allow some extra time when planning a passage.
The master or pilot can:

1. Anchor to a short scope of chain with a head tide.

2. Steam on an anchor at slow engine speeds and hold a position and heading in the channel even if there is a moderate wind from abeam.

3. Hold with a tug on each bow, using the engine as needed while the tugs minimize headway.

4. Back and fill as necessary with little advance up a channel.

By arriving early the master has an opportunity to practice any or all of these maneuvers to sharpen ship handling skills and de­velop confidence. Arriving early presents no problems but arriving late causes the mariner to use excessive speed-the ship handler's enemy.