Safe Speed

When returning from Cherbourg to the UK the visibility was less than 100 metres for the first quarter of the voyage and around 500 metres for the next quarter.
Crossing the shipping lane between Cherbourg and the Isle of Wight I can see on my ships radar to approximately 8 miles. I do not have ARPA so have to rely on a manual plot and measurement on the radar display.
All the ships which passed me, where there was a requirement for them to give way, would not have been able to take any evasive actions as they could not see visually in time. However, and fortunately, the masters were relying on their radars and obviously my ship was visible. This included a fast ferry, identifiable by its track and speed.
A ship hitting me is not likely to know that he has done so until his next port of call. My five tons against his 10,000 times or more is unlikely to be noticed until then.
I know that commercial shipping earns its living by the sea whereas I am nothing more than a pleasure sailor. However I am not aware that the IRPCS include a let out for any master breaching those Regulations. But of course I would not like to be struck by 50,000 tons at 20kts in dense fog.


CHIRP continues to receive reports related to the conduct of vessels in restricted visibility and has highlighted guidance to be published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the near future and the need for full assessments to be made in determining the appropriate speed.


The Maritime Advisory Board makes the following observations with respect to this report:


• Safe speed is a speed at which effective action can be taken in the prevailing circumstances and conditions and varies with ship type. Masters are reminded of their responsibility to make full assessments based on the prevailing circumstances and conditions.
• Whilst full use should be made of the capabilities of electronic systems; Bridge Teams should be aware of the risks of over confidence in the equipment
• There does not appear to have been a breach of the Collision Regulations in the circumstances reported. All vessels detected the presence of the reporter’s vessel and took appropriate action.
• SOLAS V, Reg. 19 requires vessels of < 150 gross tonnage to, if practicable, have a radar reflector, or other means, to enable detection by ships navigating by radar and the Maritime Advisory Board recognises the significant contribution such equipment can make to the early detection of small craft by large commercial ships.
• Persons navigating leisure craft in such conditions should fully consider the risks and take full account of their skill level, equipment, crew, passage plans and timings; choosing alternative plans if appropriate.