Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rigging Accommodation Ladders Aboard Ship

Ships are fitted with accommodation ladders that can be rigged and lowered over the side. These ladders provide a way for boarding or leaving an anchored vessel. Some accommodation ladders can be modified for use on a pier or barge. If more than one ladder is rigged, the forward accommodation ladder is the quarterdeck and reserved for officers and ceremonies. The after ladder is used by work details and crew liberty parties. The accommodation ladder, has an upper and lower platform that is connected by the ladder and supported by either a chain or wire bridle and bail hanging by a pendant.

Another method is the use of a metal bail shaped like an elongated upside down letter U which holds the ladder by a pendant rigged to the side of the ship or from a J-Bar davit. The lower platform of the accommodation ladder has additional parts that must be rigged. An H-Frame equipped with fenders is rigged to the outboard side of the lower platform. This H-Frame is where boats can come alongside to pick up or discharge passengers. The inboard side of the lower platform is fitted with ports called shoes, that when rigged hold the ladder in the proper position off the side of the ship. The shoes have pads attached to their ends to help prevent damage to the ship or the ladder. The lower platform also has turnbuckles, and in some cases, pendants to restrict the fore and aft movement of the ladder. The upper platform is supported by a brace known as a wishbone.

A single-sheave block is attached to the underside of the forward outboard comer of the upper platform. A line is rigged through this block which acts as a sea painter to keep a boat alongside in position with the accommodation ladder. A toggle between the strands of the line prevents the line from running up into the block and becoming inaccessible to a boat. There may be some accommodation ladders made of steel still in service, but for ease of handling, the Navy has changed to aluminum. When an accommodation ladder is secured for sea, everything is rigged in, disassembled in most cases, and stowed in brackets either on the rail or along a section of the superstructure. All of the smaller portable parts are stowed in a gear locker close to where the ladder is rigged. You should make sure all parts are on hand and that the toggle pins and bolts are seized with short sections of wire and attached to the ladder to prevent them from being lost over the ship's side.

The next step is to rig the upper platform. Remember to be careful in lining up the brackets when you are engaging the bolts. Many a hand injury has occurred from careless rigging operations. Once the upper platform is in place, the next step is to secure the ladder to it. Some ships have the ladder stowed against the rail. To attach this type ladder, you use a series of outriggers (arms swung out from the ship) to lay the ladder on and seat the ladder to the upper and lower platforms. On ships that do not have outriggers, the J-Bar davit can be used to support the ladder over the side to attach it to the upper platform. Another method is to use a ladder that engages pad eye. Depending on the type of the ship, rigging will vary. Now that you have the ladder attached to the upper platform, the lower platform and the H-Frame must be rigged. It is easier if the H-Frame is rigged to the lower platform while it is still on deck. Once the H-Frame and the lower platform are rigged on deck they must be worked over the side to attach to the ladder. This can be done by using the falls from the J-Bar davit or from some other attachment point. The ladder is now taking shape and nearly ready to lower. Rig the bail and bridle to the ladder and attach the wire pendant between the bail and the J-Bar davit. On some ships, the pendant is rigged between the bail and a pad eye alongside the ship.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How to make a Bell Rope

Back in the day of sailing ships there use to be a bell rope attached to a bell. Today even the smallest boats carry a ships's bell as required by law, but the average yachtsman generally tosses it into a locker where it lies until the day arrives when he suddenly needs it, then he discovers it has no bell rope.

Now your old time sailor, to whom the making of so common a thing as a bell rope was a labor of love rather than a chore, would have welcomed the opportunity to display his talents and would have proceeded straightforth with care and patience, as though his life depended on it. The result would be a bell rope useful and handsome, and many years and many ships later it would still be doing its duty, a monument to a simple sailor who knew his craft and took pride in the knowing.

So drag that old bell out from under the after deck where it has laid for who knows how long, polish it up, and fit it out with a real old time bell rope, sailor fashion. I'll bet you won't hide it again, but will keep it where friends can see and admire it. Which is as it should be.

The bell rope described here is a rather simple example and easy to make, it took me about four hours. Four 12 foot lengths of white cotton rope were middled and a 20 inch section laid up into a 4 strand flat sennit braid. This was doubled to form an eye or becket and a seizing put on. Then the 8 strands were divided into pairs and a square sennit worked a distance of 3 inches by alternately crowning the 4 pairs of strands first to the right and then to the left. Here the 8 strands were seized and all the slack worked out of the sennit by pulling up each bight in turn with a crochet hook.

The handle required a solid core, for which I used a 4 inch piece of wooden dowel. The 8 strands were continuously crowned to the right around this core and a seizing put on the end. The pattern formed by the crowning had a tendency to spiral to the right somewhat, so it was necessary to twist the whole works to the left in order to get the bights aligned vertically. The slack was taken out carefully until all the strands were tight and the core completely hidden.

To finish off the end, the strands were again paired and made up into a double wall and crown knot. Around the base of this knot was placed a 4 strand Turk's head. A 3 strand Turk's head next to the eye or becket, and a 2 strand Turk's head in the middle completed the job. The finished bell rope was then shellacked and given two coats of semigloss white paint. This treatment fills up the interstices between the strands and gives a weatherproof finish.

The becket was secured to the striker or clapper of the bell by a lashing of marline. You can and I have stained and vanished bell ropes, just use your imagination, make it a work of love.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunrise and Sunset

Horizon: Wherever one is located on or near the Earth's surface, the Earth is perceived as essentially flat and as a plane. The sky resembles one-half of a sphere or dome centered at the observer. If there are no visual obstructions, the apparent intersection of the sky with the Earth's (plane) surface is the horizon, which appears as a circle centered at the observer. For rise/set computations, the observer's eye is considered to be on the surface of the Earth, so that the horizon is geometrically exactly 90 degrees from the local vertical direction.

Rise/Set: During the course of a day the Earth rotates once on its axis causing the phenomena of rising and setting. All celestial bodies, stars and planets included, seem to appear in the sky at the horizon to the East of any particular place, then to cross the sky and again disappear at the horizon to the West. The most noticeable of these events, and the most significant are the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon.

Moonrise and moonset times are computed for exactly the same circumstances as for sunrise and sunset. However, moonrise and moonset may occur at any time during a 24 hour period and, consequently, it is often possible for the Moon to be seen during daylight, and to have moonless nights. It is also possible that a moonrise or moonset does not occur relative to a specific place on a given date.

Transit: The transit time of a celestial body refers to the instant that its center crosses an imaginary line in the sky, the observer's meridian, running from north to south. For observers in low to middle latitudes, transit is approximately midway between rise and set, and represents the time at which the body is highest in the sky on any given day. At high latitudes, neither of these statements may be true, for example, there may be several transits between rise and set. The transit of the Sun is local solar (sundial) noon. The difference between the transit times of the Sun and Moon is closely related to the Moon's phase. The New Moon transits at about the same time as the Sun, the First Quarter Moon transits about 6 hours after the Sun, the Full Moon transits about 12 hours after/before the Sun, and the Last Quarter Moon transits about 6 hours before the Sun.

Twilight: Before sunrise and again after sunset there are intervals of time, twilight, during which there is natural light provided by the upper atmosphere, which does receive direct sunlight and reflects part of it toward the Earth's surface. Some outdoor activities may be conducted without artificial illumination during these intervals, and it is useful to have some means to set limits beyond which a certain activity should be assisted by artificial lighting. The major determinants of the amount of natural light during twilight are the state of the atmosphere generally and local weather conditions in particular. Atmospheric conditions are best determined at the actual time and place of events.

Civil twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. This is the limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished; at the beginning of morning civil twilight, or end of evening civil twilight, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible under good atmospheric conditions in the absence of moonlight or other illumination. In the morning before the beginning of civil twilight and in the evening after the end of civil twilight, artificial illumination is normally required to carry on ordinary outdoor activities. Complete darkness, however, ends sometime prior to the beginning of morning civil twilight and begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

Nautical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening, when the center of the sun is geometrically 12 degrees below the horizon. At the beginning or end of nautical twilight, under good atmospheric conditions and in the absence of other illumination, general outlines of ground objects may be distinguishable, but detailed outdoor operations are not possible, and the horizon is indistinct.

Astronomical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 18 degrees below the horizon. Before the beginning of astronomical twilight in the morning and after the end of astronomical twilight in the evening the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination; for a considerable interval after the beginning of morning twilight and before the end of evening twilight, sky illumination is so faint that it is practically impossiable for celestial sights.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Navigation Rules FAQ

Have there been any changes to the current edition? Edition D is the most current edition of the Navigation Rules, and in 2003 several changes were made to the Navigation Rules, most dealt with Wing in Ground Craft.

Can I order the Navigation Rules over the phone? To order a copy of the Navigation Rules, call the Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800 and provide the GPO stock number (050-012-00407-2).
What "vessels" are required to comply with the Navigation Rules? In Rule 3 the word vessel includes every description of watercraft, including non-displacement craft, WIG craft, and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.Courts have interpreted transportation to not just include passengers, but also goods or services. The Navigation Rules address vessels, not whom/what is controlling them.

Am I required to carry a copy of the Navigation Rules? According to the Inland section of
Annex V after January 1, 1983, the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules.

Rules 24(a), 24(c) and 24(d) confuse me: The intent of Rule 24 is to state that the towing identification lights on a power driven vessel when towing may be carried in either the location of the forward masthead light or the after masthead light if carried. Rules 24(a) and 24(c) concern the description of the towing identification lights and where they shall be carried. Rule 24 (d) refers to Rule 23(a) which concerns the requirement for the masthead light(s).

What is a safe passing distance for vessels? According to
Rule 16 there is no specified distance one must keep when crossing, meeting, or overtaking another vessel, other than, as the give-way vessel, you are to keep well clear.As to what distance a vessel may be required to take action to avoid collision, it will vary, however it should be in accordance with Rule 6, Safe Speed, and Rule 8, Action to Avoid Collision. These rules which state amongst other things that: Any alteration of course or speed shall be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel and taken early enough to allow sufficient sea room for the safe passage of the other vessel and at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.The provisions prescribed in action by the Give-Way Vessel and Stand-On Vessel apply only when vessels are in sight of each other.

What is a special flashing light? View the
Arcs of Visibility page for an explanation of a special flashing light.

Who specifies whether a waterway is a Narrow Channel and therefore Rule 9 is applicable? A waterway is deemed a narrow channel by the practical and traditional uses of that waterway (usually a court determination) or it can be specified by the Secretary in
Title 33 CFR part 89.25.Note, Rule 9 differs between the International and Inland sections..Rule 9 Inland Rules: (a) A power-driven vessel traveling downbound with a following current shall have the right-of-way over an upbound vessel in the Great Lakes , Western Rivers , and those waters specified by the Secretary.Rule 9 International Rules: (f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a narrow channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(e).

What are the regulations concerning wake effects, wake damage, and responsibility? Regarding one's wake, vessels over 1600 Gross Tons are specifically required by Title 33 CFR 164.11 to set the vessel's speed with consideration for...the damage that might be caused by the vessel's wake. Further, there may be State or local laws which specifically address "wake" for the waters in question.While vessels under 1600 GT are not specifically required to manage their speed in regards to wake, they are still required to operate in a prudent matter which does not endanger life, limb, or property (
46 USC 2302). Nor do the Navigation Rules exonerate any vessel from the consequences of neglect (Rule 2), which, among other things, could be unsafe speeds (Rule 6), improper lookout (Rule 5), or completely ignoring your responsibilities as prescribed by the Navigation Rules.As to whether or not a particular vessel is responsible for the damage it creates is a question of law and fact that is best left to the Courts. For more information, contact your local Marine Patrol or State Boating Law Administrator.

Am I required to have Radar? Radar is not required on vessels under 1600 GT (Title 33 CFR part 164.35), however,
Rule 7 states that proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational. In other words, whoever has one must use it.The Navigation Rules are not meant to discourage the use of any device, rather they expect prudent mariners to avail themselves of all available means to make full appraisal of the situation (Rule 5), e.g. the use of radar. At issue is whether the use of radar is appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and that is a determination made by the Master; and, ultimately decided by a trier of fact.Should you be in a collision how would a judge/jury rule on your contention that the use of radar was impracticable (due to electrical drain, crew shortages, etc.)? Also, if a collision does occur, then there was obviously a risk of collision beforehand. Could the determination of that risk have been made sooner with the use of radar? It is difficult to answer such questions because the circumstances of each case are different.More importantly, remember that Rule 7specifies that assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar information.

When do I need a Look-out? According to
Rule 5, all vessels are responsible for maintaining a proper look-out at all times this includes one-man crews, unmanned crafts, and recreational boats.The term look-out implies watching and listening so that he/she is aware of what is happening around the vessel. The emphasis is on performing the action, not on the person. Still, in all but the smallest vessels, the lookout is expected to be an individual who is not the helmsman and is usually located in the forward part of the boat, away from the distractions and noises of the bridge. While no specific location on a vessel is prescribed for the lookout, good navigation requires placement at the point best suited for the purpose of hearing and observing the approach of objects likely to be brought into collision with the vessel.The size of the vessel and crew effect this answer, however, the emphasis in every legal decision points to the need for a proper, attentive look-out. While the use of radar to evaluate the situation is implied in the requirement to use all available means, that is still understood to be secondary to maintaining a look-out by sight and hearing.

Where do Kayaks and Canoes fit into the Navigation Rules? Neither the International nor Inland Navigation Rules address "kayaks" or "canoes" per se, except in regards to "vessels under oars" in
Rule 25 regarding lights. One could infer that a "vessel under oars" should be treated as a "sailing vessel" since it is permitted to display the same lights as one, but, ultimately the issue of whom "gives way" would fall to what would be "required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case" (Rule 2).

Can I use Strobe Lights to be more visible at night? For any other lights beyond those specifically defined within the Navigation Rules they should be such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules, or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out (
Rule 20).Displaying a strobe for “higher visibility” would confuse other vessels as to your navigational status (many aids to navigation use a strobe or flashing). Also, lights provide direction and aspect information to other boat operators. For example, if while operating my vessel I see a red light on my starboard side I know I am the give-way vessel (Rule 16, 17). The use of a strobe light could overwhelm a vessel’s navigation lights and cease to provide such crucial direction and aspect information to other boat operators.Also, Rule 36 of the International Rules addresses signals to attract attention and for the purpose of [that] rule the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as strobe lights, shall be avoided. Rule 37 of the Inland Rules addresses strobes in regards to distress signals so that when a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use…a high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute.Since strobe light use is to be avoided (International waters) or used as a distress signal (Inland waters), it cannot be used to routinely mark vessels operating on the water.

How do I report a marine accident? Title 33 CFR part 173 provides guidance in regards to accident reporting. For most States the issuing and reporting authority is the State itself – if in doubt contact your local Coast Guard Marine Safety Office.

Who is responsible for damage incurred during a marine accident?There is a long standing notion of Tort Law--that one is responsible for one's damages--the issue however is culpability and to what degree. These are matters of fact and law.

What does WIG stand for? WIG stands for
Wing in Ground Craft.

What are Demarcation Lines and Territorial Seas?
Demarcation Lines divide the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States, for the purpose of determining the applicability of Inland Rules in lieu of the International Rules. International Rules are tantamount to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, (72 COLREGS), while the Inland Rules are synonymous with 33 CFR 80 of United States Code.Note, the term international water is not defined by U.S. law or the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), yet, it is commonly used to convey high seas. High seas are those waters beyond territorial seas. Territorial seas are a maritime zone extending beyond the land territory and internal waters of that country over which the country exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction, to include the airspace over the territorial sea, as well as to its bed and subsoil.Territorial seas of the United States are 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territories or possessions over which the United States exercises sovereignty. The territorial waters of the United States can sometimes extend out to 24 or 200 miles depending on the matter in question; see 33 CFR 2 or UNCLOS for further information.

What are the Waters Specified by the Secretary? There is a list of waters specified by the Secretary as quoted from Title 33 CFR part 89.25. These waters are referred to in the Inland sections of
Rule 9(a)ii, Rule 14(d), Rule 15(b), and Rule 24(i).

What is Outer Continental Shelf Activity? Outer Continental Shelf Activities and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) are accountable to the regulations found in Title 33 CFR, parts 140-147 (Subchapter N).According to
Rule 3 Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) are not considered underway when drilling because they are “attached” or “made fast” to the bottom. That being established, requirements for MODU’s can be found in Title 33 CFR, part 67.05, Aids to Navigation on Artificial Islands and Fixed Structures. MODU’s fall under the definition of “structures” which includes drilling platforms and barges.
What is Automatic Identification System? For more information on Automatic Identification System (AIS), visit the USCG AIS Webpage.