SURVIVING SHIPPING LANES
The course of action that smaller boats take in shipping lanes and high traffic areas is critical for their safety. Large vessels take exceptionally long distances to slow, turn and stop, and in light of this, smaller vessels need to operate with great care in shipping lanes.
CLEAR THE CHANNEL
If you see a large vessel approaching a channel from a few kilometres out, stay well clear of the channel area until the vessel has passed by. If the ship loses its rudder or steering, it can shear to one side and anything in its way will become collision material.
NO ACTIVE CHANNEL ANCHORING
Never anchor in an active shipping channel. If your motors won’t start or your anchor snags on something, you become a target when larger vessels are in the area as they will not have enough time to take evasive action.
Often, the captains of larger tankers can lose sight of smaller boats in the water from 500 metres or more. If the captain can’t see you in the shipping lane from those sorts of distances, it is clearly advisable to stay well clear of shipping lanes when larger tankers are in close proximity. If the captain of a tanker does not see you, he could very well ride right over you without even realizing there has been an accident. Such is the size of these tankers.
NO CUTTING IN
Never cut in front of a ship because if you encounter engine failure and you’re stuck in the path of the ship, it has no way of stopping in time or avoiding you. If you need to cross the path of a commercial ship or tanker, always cross at the stern.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Monitoring radio channels is another way to gauge what is in the fishing lanes and if for some reason you do break down in a shipping lane, call the Coast Guard immediately. If your VHF radio has failed, wave something orange such as a lifejacket to alert boats in the area of your problem and then … start paddling as quickly as you can!