Tuesday, December 4, 2007


If a channel has enough width, meeting another vessel is simply a matter of staying on your own side. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You can meet head-on and, when approximately one-and-a-half ship lengths apart, put your rudder to starboard to move to their own side and pass safely.

2. When one ship's bow is abeam the bow of the other, her helm is shifted to move her stern to starboard until she is parallel to the bank.

3. The rudder is again put to the right to check the swing. Caution is required at this point, so watch the ship's head. Your vessel wants to continue swinging due to a combination of the bank suction on the starboard quarter and the effects of the other ship as her quarter comes abeam your bow, i.e., your ship wants to turn to port as her bow passes the other ship's stern. Use sufficient rudder to check this swing and maintain control despite the effects of suction at the bow and stern.

4. Do not increase the right rudder at this stage, but allow your ship to sag slowly to port so she is heading away from the bank once again. It is unlikely that you could hit that ship if you tried since she has passed your bow and is moving away. So long as you don't come together laterally, which is unlikely unless you are close enough to shake hands with the mate on the bridge of the other ship, you will pass safely.

5. Finally, as the stern of the other ship passes your stern there is a mutual suction effect which moves your stern away from the near bank as the two ships pass clear and proceed on their way.

The ship's speed is a key. The ship must be moving at less than full maneuvering speed so suction is minimized and sufficient engine speed remains to come ahead and increase the effectiveness of the rudder as needed. This passing maneuver is not as difficult as it might sound.