Report Text:

Own ship is a large sailing ship. We were sailing in light winds, speed over ground 1.5-2 knots with the wind astern. A small fishing vessel, single handed, and displaying fishing shapes, had been picking up pots astern of me. He overtook me on my starboard side at approx 0.5 cable. Although unnecessarily close, there was nothing particularly unusual in that as we very frequently have vessels coming for a look pass just as close. When 20 degrees off my starboard bow, he stopped at approx 0.75 cable distant and proceeded to haul a pot. We started our main engines and were forced to manoeuvre to pass him. I was aware that I was the give-way vessel, as the other was engaged in fishing, though having come all the way down my side from right astern, he was the overtaking vessel. In any case, I cannot believe that the rules were intended to approve an act which displayed such blatant disregard for another vessel. Finally, the other vessel went astern and passed down my starboard side at approx 5 metres. The fisherman skipper looked up and inquired “Alright?”  I resisted the temptation to respond.

Lessons Learned:

1.The value of keeping a good lookout – without someone keeping a close eye on other vessels in the vicinity, we might not have had time to avoid him.

2. The need to be even more wary than usual when the other vessel involved is a small fishing boat. Experience shows that own ship altering course to open the CPA simply leads to other vessel altering further towards! In this case, it may have been that the other vessel was concentrating on his pots and despite having just passed us, was not aware of our relative positions when he stopped to haul the pot. Either that or he was just deliberately ignoring us until he too was forced to take action.

CHIRP Comment:

From the report, it appears that the fishing vessel was the overtaking vessel. We believe that the obligation of an overtaking vessel to keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken continues until the vessels are well clear of each other. We do not believe that the Regulations can be construed to allow an overtaking vessel to acquire the rights of a “vessel engaged in fishing” whilst close ahead of the overtaken vessel.

We contacted the fisherman and discussed the incident with him. He recalled that the encounter had been too close for comfort and agreed that it highlighted the importance of allowing an adequate margin of safety.