Our yacht was on passage in the Caribbean with 2 persons on board. At around 1300 hours local she was located between two islands sailing downwind under mainsail and poled out headsail at 6 knots on a course of 294 magnetic. Weather was fair, visibility was good and the surrounding area has a depth of over 1,500 metres. A large ship was spotted about 7 NM to the South West on our yacht’s port quarter, identified on our active AIS as XXXX under power at 22.6 knots on a course of 001 with a CPA of 0.1 – 0.3 NM. As her course was steady and this was considered too close, contact on Channel 16 was established and she acknowledged our presence. We sought confirmation of her intentions. The response in limited English was that as she was going very fast and that we should keep clear. We advised that we were a sailing vessel and crossing from her starboard side and were therefore the stand-on vessel. She again replied that she was going very fast and that we should keep clear. We requested the radio operator consult a superior officer and, after a pause, the same operator responded that using good seamanship XXXX would try to avoid us by passing ahead but that our yacht should slow down. Observing that XXXX was maintaining her course and speed and that the CPA remained less than 0.5 NM, we furled our headsail and turned sharply to port sailing slowly away from the track of XXXX. At no time did visual observation or our AIS indicate that she changed her course or speed. After XXXX had passed safely ahead, we radioed to register concern that she had demonstrably failed to comply with the collision regulations. XXXX’s response in limited English failed to acknowledge the situation so we advised that the incident would be reported.
We sent a copy of the report to the manager of the ship. As per our standard practice, we did not disclose the identity of the yacht or the reporter. The manager provided a positive response, acknowledging that the incident had occurred and providing a comprehensive summary of the action being taken across its fleet to improve compliance with the ColRegs.
This is a good example of the value of hazardous incident reporting. The yachtsman acted responsibly in reporting the encounter. The ship manager appears to have been diligent in following up the report and applying the lessons not only on that particular ship but across his fleet.