A sea story (this ain’t no shit)
My first mate’s job was on an Aleutian freighter, one night I was alone, in the wheelhouse northbound, crossing the WSF route from Anacortes.
It wasn’t my first trip but I wasn’t very familiar with that stretch, just using visual ard radar, nothing else available, loran not suitable for piloting.
I just made a turn, I knew the new course so I set the iron mike on that course but when I looked out the window / radar it didn’t match. After a moment of confusion I realized the gyro had developed a big error. So when I reached the next turn I shaped up on the next course with accounting for the error. But again, something was catawampus. I later figured out that the gyro had gone completely haywire and after each course change the error changed.
So I’m going back and forth between the chart, the radar and the window. I’m busy but I’m doing ok, there’s no traffic, I’m figuring it out, but then one of the ferries calls me and asks “what are your intentions? Would you like me to take your stern?” But there’s nothing in sight. WTF? So I figure the ferry’s got the wrong ship, he means to call someone else.
So I call him back, where are you? Well, there’s a long pause, then the ferry says I’m on your starboard bow.
The ship I was on had two big fat cargo booms that laid on the corners of the wheelhouse that blocked the view to both port and stbd unless you were in the right spot in the wheelhouse. So I ducked down so I could see under the boom and there, close on my starboard, was a WSF all lite up, bigger than shit.
I’d been too busy running from chart to radar to take more than a quick glance forward. I’m sure the watch on the ferry must have been wondering how on earth another watchstander could miss a big ole lite up ferry.