More insights into safety around ships
After reading A yachtsman’s guide to shipping (Apr 16), I’d like to add a couple of points. First, ferries often cut corners. We were motorsailing northeast round Ushant at night. Despite being well inshore of the traffic separation scheme, we met a Brittany Ferry heading southwest to Spain on a slow turn at 20+ knots.
Attempts to contact the ferry by VHF failed until the French Coastguard intervened. The ferry claimed not to see us until I put our masthead light on. The genoa cloaked our steaming light and our nav lights were too low in the swell. Now I motorsail with only the masthead light on.
Later, our Class B AIS failed so I called any ship on a potential collision course, as I do if I am the stand-on vessel and the miss distance is less than two miles. We crossed the Channel’s shipping lanes in good visibility and none of the 11 ships I hailed had seen us. Their radars had not alarmed or were off. They were totally reliant on AIS alarms.
Ferries sometimes stray from the routes of most shipping traffic