German schooners collision. What the hell were they thinking?


Gee, where I come from, that means, “Turn the SHIP to port”. Not the fl’g tiller, which turned the schooner to STARBOARD, right in front of the MERSHIP.

Yes – but the traditional tacking command/warning, “hard-alee” or “helm’s-alee” as you put the helm down refers to tiller, not rudder. Over here, anyway.

If tiller to port was not what {whoever was yelling commands} wanted, it would have been instantly countermanded, or so one would think.

Blue man and blue-jeans man were on the tiller. It was blue-jeans man who cast off the relieving tackle on the weather side. At 0:43 you can see a sailing vessel insignia on the breast of his jacket, with what looks like his name under it. At 0:03 as blue man is running aft you can just see a similar arrangement on his jacket.

…and what did I write?
If they had used not only mariner expressions, but also their meanings, they would not have crashed…

I’ve watched this a few times now, and can’t make sense of what I’m seeing. They are clearly standing into danger for a good, long while, seemingly in no kind of hurry to do anything.

As for the right of way, both of these boats classify as “large” (>25m) according to CEVNI. The inland rules make no distinction between commercial and pleasure traffic, and the schooner classifies as a commercial vessel as long as she carries paying passengers. A vessel under sail has priority over engine driven vessels so long as they’re of the same category, and downstream traffic has priority in any case, so the schooner may have been the stand-on vessel except for the rule that says “Don’t be an idiot and stuff her under the bow of a big guy restricted by draft”.

These guys should have been talking, that’s not just common sense but spelled out in the rule book. I’d hazard a guess that the investigation will point out that someone neglected to answer a call or two, and I have my suspicions as to who that might be. The BSU are usually pretty prompt, so I guess we’ll have our answers soon enough.

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The container ship went to Cuxhaven, i.e. downstream.

One passenger has serious head injuries, from the falling mast.

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Didn’t always used to be that way:Helm Commands

Orders to the helmsman were traditionally given in terms of ‘helm’. That is to say, the position of the tiller rather than the rudder. ‘Hard a-starboard!’ meant ‘put the tiller (helm) to starboard, so that the ship may go to port!’ It will be realised that not only the bow turned to port, but also the rudder, [and] the top of the wheel…

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Whoops. In that case they obviously didn’t have right of way. On re-reading it also appears that the rule of sailing vessels having priority only applies between small craft (?)

Anyhow, here’s the relevant article:


That is why the Americans use" left and right rudder ",one sensible thing they do

Well I’ll be go-to-hell!! I stand corrected and further educated!! :grimacing::grimacing:

Corroborating information. . .

What is the German translation for “fall off” or “round up”? Those are the terms I was taught to sail with. Maybe their just racing terms.

They’re not just racing terms, it’s sailing 101. “Fall off” was the only command that should have been given by the captain on that schooner. Clear to anyone who’s ever been on a sailboat. No helm command needed, no confusion.


The translations:

‘fall off’ = ‘abfallen’ = going away from the wind, the contrary is
‘head up’ = ‘anluven’ = going nearer to the wind
‘round up’ = ‘in den Wind gehen’ = going into the wind during a tack or, under engine, to work on the sails

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I taught sailing in Florida for a guy who had bought a sailing school and made his wife office manager. After she heard me talk to some students, she pulled me aside and said:

“Don’t use the term ‘fall off’ to students, it might scare them.”

I didn’t say anything, just turned and walked away.

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Yes, wondering why they didn’t simply fall off as a first choice?? Tacking was harder and slower and took them immediately into the path of the ship.

But the ship didn’t do anything. Wonder what they were thinking???

The Captain on the Schooner is a retired Harbor Pilot for that area…as I have read elsewhere

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A constant problem there. If you are going to be on the water ‘at play’ around commercial ships (big ones) anywhere, you better know two things:

  1. The Rules of the Road
  2. When to ignore the Rules of the Road and get the hell out of the way to save your own boat and/or life.

Looking at the photo of the actual collision, it appears the ship was fairly close to the edge of the deep water. (You can just see a red buoy at the back of the ship).

If I am correct, they didn’t have space to alter course to starboard. It must have been pretty bad on the bridge watching the schooner suddenly turn right across your bows.


…and see all these innocent tourists on deck.

Can’t tell for sure, is that container ship just starting a turn to port at the end of the video?

Also - isn’t the Elbe 5 making a slow turn to stbd during the entire video?

As to what they were thinking on the Astrosprinter my guess is they expected the Elbe 5 to stay clear. As to why that’d be another guess at this point.

The bearing of the Astrosprinter is opening to port but looks like it’s because the Elbe 5 is turning.

Chilling to see how they are seemingly waiting for the Astrosprinter to change course. They have no idea what the restrictions are for such a large ship that is also sailing downstream. Immediately falling off was they only way to avoid a collision. Loosen the sheets first and then give port rudder.

That reminds me that on one occasion we sailed in summer time up one of those Scottish lochs. The water all around us was littered with all kinds of pleasure crafts. Then some of the motorboats had the unsavoury idea to cross close in front of us, a kind of a game. At a certain moment they disappeared out of sight, hidden by the ship’s bow. We waited to see whether they reappeared at the other side of the bow… The Scottish pilot almost had a fit and started yelling at them over the windshield which was purely a symbolic action as they could not hear those profanities seen the distance and their own motor noise but it gave him some relief. They seemed to like the sound of the steam whistle blowing all the time because they waved at us.