[B]SOLID DETAILED VOYAGE PLANNING[/B] [B]COUPLED[/B] [B]WITH GOOD BRIDGE[/B] [B]RESOURCE MANAGEMENT[/B].
Navigating in and out the vicinity of Belle Pass, the hole-in-wall, east hole-in-wall, and the west rabbit is a challenging and difficult endeavor even on a clear calm day. At night and in reduced visibility makes the situation even more challenging.
Most outbound vessels arriving at Belle Pass 1 & 2 buoys will proceed directly to their next waypoint, such as the hole-in-wall, east hole-in-wall or west rabbit, which are all different waypoints. Conversely, inbound vessels from the aforementioned waypoints typically proceed to a waypoint in the vicinity of Belle Pass 1 & 2.
A vast majority of mariners that are operating out of Port Fourchon are not aware of or utilize the safety fairway that is on chart 11346. This safety fairway extends 1.3nm south of Belle Pass buoys 1 &2 on a course of 191 degrees true. Vessels not utilizing the fairway and common waypoints leads to mass confusion on meeting, crossing, and overtaking situations.
Voyage planning requires precautionary thought and preparedness. Precautionary thought declines with the onset of complacency, a recognized danger for all vessels on the SAME regular run in and out of Port Fourchon. This is the area where all bridge teams should be on their “A” game, and not cutting corners. I think all bridge teams have been humbled plenty of times in this area.
Our bridge team agreed to extend the range course 191T, to the end of the safety fairway 1.3nm establishing a common approach and departure point from the seaward end of the safety fairway. From this common approach point, we also established permanent waypoints for the hole-in-wall, east hole-in-wall, and west rabbit, which would reflect the center of the safety fairway. This provides the vessel sufficient sea room to safely meet, cross, and overtake other vessels. Also, this provides a safe passing distance to the numerous satellites in the vicinity.
These waypoints have been placed on all our charts in ink, highlighted, and the Lat/Long wrote on the chart in the mariner’s note section for reference. The courses and distances were also placed on the chart as well. The same waypoints were also put on the chart plotter so it mirrors the chart.
This has significantly enhanced the navigation in this highly congested area and allows much more flexibility in negotiating traffic and maintaining a safe distance from the satellites. Implementing this as a “best practice” would provide an extra margin for all vessels. Ideally, if ALL vessels operating out of Port Fourchon adopted the use of these waypoints, it would curtail the mass confusion in this area, and permit more natural flow of traffic. We all know that the crew boats would continue to do their own thing.
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