Puget Sound Pilots and Sailboats


#1

After posting in the thread [I]Crossing Situations with Sailboats[/I], I realized I may be hijacking WAFI’s thread, so I started my own.

I’m interested in hearing from Puget Sound Pilots, and what they really see and expect from us (sailboats) when there’s a hundred sails between Sierra Delta and Yankee Tango.

Puget Sound is, apparently, quite different from other bodies of water, so who I’m really hoping to talk to is an active, professional Puget Sound Pilot. I suspect such a viewpoint is quite different from what has been portrayed and predicted.

Thank you.

~Jammer


WSF Collision
#2

I have pilotage for Puget Sound though typically I don’t work on the stretch of water you described (rather I work closer to Canada). Nevertheless I’ll comment: it’s hoped that everyone on the water knows where the inbound and outbound traffic lanes are and unless they are VTS participants stays out of them unless crossing (and then cross at a sharp angle and do it quickly). Monitoring Seattle VTS channel 5A as well as 13 will give you a heads up about ship’s movements when they check in (ch 14 for north of Bush Pt). Those channels should be used to contact vessels in the system. If you want to know more about VTS, their manuals are free online. There are also apps for smart phones that also help with tracking vessels beyond what your onboard AIS VHF transceiver can detect, but the positions are not instantaneous.


#3

http://www.uscg.mil/d13/psvts/boaters_man/index.html

Read this. I think it goes over your responsibilities pretty clearly.


#4

Puget Sound pilots also have this on line:Safety Information on Sharing the Waterways


#5

North of Bush point is Vhf 5 south of bush point/ possession sound is vhf 14 if you are a sail boat stay out of the way of all traffic transiting in the traffic lanes and you will be fine if a pilot is going to call you it will be on 14 or 13 most commercial traffic doesn’t bother with 16 around seattle


#6

One of the reasons I want to hear from Puget Sound Pilots is that pilots who drive through this stretch of water know that “staying out of the VTS lanes” isn’t going to happen.

I’m interested in hearing from pilots who deal with all of us who sail there, and how they do it.


#7

Not sure how many PS Pilots frequent this forum. There are, however, plenty of mariners who frequent Puget Sound.

First, it’s not “VTS lanes”, rather a Traffic Separation Scheme. Rule 10 will generally tell you everything you need to know regarding your responsibilities.

If in doubt, get a hold of the ship via VHF-13.

But, generally, your best bet is to just stay clear, and if there’s any doubt, never attempt to cross ahead of any vessel, particularly large ships–they may be moving quite a bit faster than they appear to be.

And, one question–whiskey tango? Where is that, exactly?


#8

Yankee Tango, not Whiskey Tango. The mid channel mark off Alki Point.

I stay as clear as I can, but Yankee Tango is actually a good example-- going past Alki Point (or West Point) under sail, you’re going to be out in the lanes. (I’ve never heard them called anything but the “VTS lanes” or “the lanes”, but then I’ve never spoken with a pro about it, just other amateurs.)


#9

First of all, thank you for being interested in my viewpoint!! Where to start? I would have to say that communication is key. All piloted vessels in the Sound maintain a listening watch on channel 13 and traffic channels 5a (North of Bush Pt) 14 (South of Bush Pt). Channel 16 is rarely on. It’s not required and creates more noise pollution on the bridge. When I determine that a risk of collision exists, I try to hail the vessel on ch13. Rarely do I have any luck there. I do that so that it’s on tape that I tried and by chance their radio is on. Second, I switch a radio to ch16 and try hailing. Nine out of ten times I don’t make contact. When I do make contact, it makes things much easier and safer. I will have most likely had you acquired on the arpa for the last 15 minutes or more. I will know, at your present course and speed, exactly how close we will pass. If we’re communicating on the radio, I can tell you if you can safely pass in front of us or I can recommend a course of action that will work for both of us. Without this communication, it’s a guessing game. Does this guy see me? Is he going to tack the other way? Can he hear my whistle? A lot of times you may think that you can safely pass in front of me. On a large loaded container ship, the blind spot in front of the ship can be as much as 1600 ft or more. That’s more then .2 nm. It’s not a good feeling when a vessel disappears under your bow. You may not see the big picture?? There may be a vessel in front of you and one astern of you. If I change course to miss you, it may put me one a collision course with one of the other vessels.

Lastly, I believe a copy of the steering and sailing rules (rules of the road) are required on most vessels. It would be good for you to familiarize yourself with Rule 10, chapter J.

(j) A vessel less then 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.

Thanks again for your interest. Please pass along this information to your sailing partners. Don’t hesitate to call us in the radio. It’s much appreciated!!! If you are a member of a yacht club or just have a group of boaters that would like one of us to visit and answer questions, you can find our number online and we’d be glad to set something up.

Good Sailing to you,

CapnD


#10

[QUOTE=Jammer Six;147287]Yankee Tango, not Whiskey Tango. The mid channel mark off Alki Point.[/QUOTE]

Sorry to correct you again but it’s name is just “Tango” stands for “Tacoma”, then comes “Tango Alpha” etc

As a tugboater on the Sound, sailboats and Rec Fishing boats are the worst possible obstructions I can come across. Mostly because I have absolutely no idea what they might do next. I’m looking for gaps in the traffic, and as slowly as we move, they close up after I’ve committed. Then I have a problem.

On a wire boat, the situation is even more critical, because those two classes of boats forget the tow wire and barge are a part of the package deal.

I have a buddy who says " I won’t just hit them once, I’ll be hitting them twice."

Organized races are another hazard to be faced, because they have a tendency to congregate sailboats near navigation marks and channels. Shilshole comes to mind. They tend to use the ATON as marks, and the normal traffic patterns are obstructed by numbers of boats milling about.

Others mention channel 16. Most commercial traffic doesn’t monitor 16. My radios are on the VTS channel and the Bridge-to-bridge channels, 14/05A and 13. The noise level in the boat and traffic chatter are still enough that the volume goes down a bit, so you might need to call me a couple times.

My AIS is hooked to my chart plotter, so your signal shows me exactly where you were a moment ago, but out of a fleet of boats, it’s hard to pick out which boat has the unit on.
Again, it doesn’t indicate your [I][B]intentions[/B][/I]. only the radio call can do that.


#11

[QUOTE=Jammer Six;147287]Yankee Tango, not Whiskey Tango. The mid channel mark off Alki Point.

I stay as clear as I can, but Yankee Tango is actually a good example-- going past Alki Point (or West Point) under sail, you’re going to be out in the lanes. (I’ve never heard them called anything but the “VTS lanes” or “the lanes”, but then I’ve never spoken with a pro about it, just other amateurs.)[/QUOTE]

As has pointed in the previous post the buoy off Alki Point is called “Tango” - on the chart it’s labeled Y “T” the Y meaning that it’s a yellow buoy and the “T” inside the quote marks being it’s name. The next buoy (southbound towards Tacoma), the “TA” (also yellow) is shown on the chart as Y “TA” which again the Y meaning the buoy is yellow.

Also strictly speaking the buoy there is not a mid-channel mark, it is a TSS buoy and it marks the center of the precautionary area of the TSS at the turn.


#12

[QUOTE=CapnD;147289]When I determine that a risk of collision exists, I try to hail the vessel on ch13. Rarely do I have any luck there. I do that so that it’s on tape that I tried and by chance their radio is on. Second, I switch a radio to ch16 and try hailing. Nine out of ten times I don’t make contact.[/QUOTE]

No one has ever suggested that I monitor channel 13. The only channels other than 16 that have been suggested to me are Seattle Traffic on 14, 68 and 69.

We are taught that 13 is listed as “bridge to bridge working”, and guarding it is required for vessels over 20 meters, and guarding 16 is required if a vessel is equipped with VHF.


#13
No, you are not required to monitor 16 in a VTS area (assuming you monitor the relevant channels) 

Not monitoring 13 is retarded if you want to maximize situational awareness around commercial traffic in the US. Any contrary argument is absurd.

Plenty of people have suggested monitoring 13, including the Puget sound pilots website in the long provided by kenebec captain. Does a pilot personally have to suggest it or what? Their association suggests it quite clearly.


#14

[QUOTE=z-drive;147392]No, you are not required to monitor 16 in a VTS area (assuming you monitor the relevant channels)

Not monitoring 13 is retarded if you want to maximize situational awareness around commercial traffic in the US. Any contrary argument is absurd.

Plenty of people have suggested monitoring 13, including the Puget sound pilots website in the long provided by kenebec captain. Does a pilot personally have to suggest it or what? Their association suggests it quite clearly.[/QUOTE]

From Page 1-9 of the PSVTS User Manual:
[I]
[B][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][SIZE=4]Do I need to guard Channel 16? [/SIZE][/FONT][/B]
[/I]
[I][B][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][SIZE=4]
[/SIZE][/FONT][/B][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Although VMRS and VTS Users are exempt from monitoring Channel 16 while complying with VTS participation regulations (reference 47 CFR 80.148(b) exemption), VMRS and VTS User class vessels are encouraged to also actively guard Channel 16 if able to do so, along with continuous monitoring of the appropriate VTS frequency, AND Channel 13, on separate radios, while in U.S. waters. Many smaller vessels may be unaware of the Channel 16 exemption status, and may attempt to hail larger vessels on Channel 16 in an emergency, which is the appropriate frequency for a vessel of their class in U.S. or Canadian waters.

[/SIZE][/FONT][/I]Just to clarify, legally speaking, you have to be “participating” in the VTS in order to be exempt from monitoring Ch. 16.


#15

[QUOTE=Jammer Six;147278]One of the reasons I want to hear from Puget Sound Pilots is that pilots who drive through this stretch of water know that “staying out of the VTS lanes” isn’t going to happen.

I’m interested in hearing from pilots who deal with all of us who sail there, and how they do it.[/QUOTE]

I’ve transited Puget Sound as an AB, Mate and Captain a number of times including on tug and barge, and ships both with and without a pilot. Do you think the crew goes below when the pilot comes aboard or do you think that the ship’s crew is just too stupid to comprehend what is happening in the wheel house during the transit?

I’ve also sailed in Elliot Bay with a former shipmate who kept his boat on Lake Union.

Of course sailboats are not going to avoid TSS altogether but the entire point of discussion about AIS, VHF and visual lookout is to be aware of approaching ships and to stay clear.

The problem with talking to a pilot is you’re going to get the story they put out to the public which is they are happy to share the waterway with WAFIs. In private, in the wheel house they sing a different tune, they want you to stay out of the way and if you force them to have to call you on the VHF to stay safe you already screwed up.


#16

Yes and the same regulations say if you must monitor 16, then you need a second radio to work other channels as “sequentially monitoring” doesn’t count for guarding 16, to paraphrase.

My point was that in a VTS trying to hail a ship on 16 isn’t your best bet as they are not required to monitor it (this assumes ships will be participating in the VTS)


#17

[QUOTE=Tom_Tugboat;147290]

As a tugboater on the Sound, sailboats and Rec Fishing boats are the worst possible obstructions I can come across. Mostly because I have absolutely no idea what they might do next. I’m looking for gaps in the traffic, and as slowly as we move, they close up after I’ve committed. Then I have a problem.

On a wire boat, the situation is even more critical, because those two classes of boats forget the tow wire and barge are a part of the package deal.[/QUOTE]

While completely unfamiliar with Puget Sound, I AM familiar with the upper and lower bays of NY Harbor and currently work the Cumberland Sound.

I concur and refer to ALL described above as ORGAN DONORS


#18

[QUOTE=z-drive;147402]My point was that in a VTS trying to hail a ship on 16 isn’t your best bet as they are not required to monitor it (this assumes ships will be participating in the VTS)[/QUOTE]

That’s an interesting point. One of my questions here is do ships really want to talk to rec boaters?

[QUOTE=Jolly Tar;147404]I concur and refer to ALL described above as ORGAN DONORS[/QUOTE]

That tells me you don’t understand the process of organ donation.


#19
No. So just stay out of their way.

#20

[QUOTE=Jammer Six;147429]One of my questions here is do ships really want to talk to rec boaters?[/QUOTE]

No, show don’t tell. Show you intend to stay clear by putting your boat on a tack away from the lanes, luffing up or aiming for the ship’s stern if you intend to cross the lanes. Only “tell” if you are unable to make your intentions clear in ample time.

If you don’t make your intentions clear likely you will get a call but if that’s the case you already screwed up.

Rule 8 - Action to Avoid Collision

(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with Rules 4-19 and shall if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.

(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.