Big ships can mean big trouble for little boats

7 March 2011

A small sailing vessel recently came dangerously close to a tanker and a container ship in Outer Harbor.

This series of photos of the near miss, captured by the captain of the container ship, is a graphic illustration of an incident that could have resulted in tragic consequences.

Captain Ashley McDonald was piloting the tanker Unique Developer, outbound with bow almost abeam the end of the Southern Breakwater, when he witnessed a sailing vessel passing in front of his ship at a range of less than 200 metres from port to starboard.

“It was under sail on a beam reach and did not appear to make any attempt to avoid passing in front of the tanker,” said Captain McDonald.

The same vessel then passed in front of a container ship under the conduct of Captain Dow, who identified the boat’s sail number and captured these photos.

“We honestly cannot say this enough – as a small boat you are literally a drop in the ocean when you are near a big ship,” said Brian Hemming, Director Transport Safety Regulation.

“Big ships are unable to stop, slow to manoeuvre and their vision is often obscured by items on the ship, such as containers.

“Skippers of small boats must take responsibility for their actions, stay out of shipping channels and take a wide berth around big ships.”

You can read a previous article on this issue here.

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