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    Re: Fatal interaction between yacht and ferry.
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2007 May 11, 08:07 -0700

    George Huxtable wrote:
    >
    > I think Lu's last sentence explains the problems that he found.
    >
    > In European waters, vessels are actively discouraged from using VHF to
    > mediate their interactions.
    >
    > Instead, they are expected to use the colregs, and nothing but the colregs,
    > at all times. And NEVER to agree a course of action that is contrary to
    > those colregs.
    >
    > This is in complete contrast to the situation in US, and perhaps Canadian,
    > waters, as I understand it.
    
    George, in his comments later in his reply (which I've deleted), is as
    usual spot on.
    
    I would offer one small correction to his comment about VHF usage in the
    US and Canada.  The Colregs still stand.  Period.   But VHF is often
    used in several situations:
    
    1.  In situations of limited visibility.
    
    1a.  On the US's great rivers such as the Mississippi, barge "tows"
    (actually scores of barges locked together and pushed) 1/4 mile long or
    more are commonplace.   Captains radio on the VHF when approaching blind
    curves -- two tows don't want to be in a curve at the same time.
    
    1b.  Throughout the US, commercial vessels operating in the fog will
    often give a securite' call at important navigational waypoints.  As a
    recreational mariner often crossing shipping channels in the fog, I was
    grateful to know when the "big stuff" was in my vicinity -- and I also
    learned to give a securite' call myself when I entered a channel, asking
    if there was anyone I should be on the lookout for.   Especially when
    given on Ch 13, commercial traffic was glad to answer.
    
    2.  To clarify intent.   A good example of this was several years ago
    when I was sailing south out of New York Harbor.   A very big freighter
    came storming down the channel right behind us.   One of my crew, a US
    Coast Guard licensed captain, jumped on Channel 13 and let the pilot
    aboard the freighter know that we would be veering out of the channel
    after we passed a buoy immediately ahead that marked the end of a
    sandbar.  It certainly helped us avoid a Rule 9 vs Rule 13 argument.
    
    
    The Colregs are the Colregs.  But included in them is a requirement to
    use "every available means" to avoid a collision.  I count VHF among them.
    
    Lu Abel
    
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