Kerosene Lanterns

Comments from Lin and Larry Pardey about their kerosene lanterns -
"Shipping traffic was relatively light as we worked north to 35 degrees. But we did see at least one ship per 24 hours. We used the small VHF hand- held we carry to ask one ships crew if they could see our kerosene running lights. We could just make out their red light so knew they were within two miles. The ships officer answered almost immediately, "Can you give me your position please." I replied that we were due south of them, on their beam." Now I have you visually," the officer said. "You are exactly l.6 miles away and I have your red. But I can not see you on radar as the rain squall behind you has your echo obscured." That gave us food for thought, especially as a week previously we had requested confirmation of our radar return from another ship and been told we returned well from l2 miles, both from ahead and on the beam. Lesson: be reluctant to expect ships to see you in squally weather."
Perhaps kerosene lanterns are not so worthless after all.
Fair Winds,

sorry to be such a skeptic, but this sounds fishy to me. i am
usually able to see a ships red at much further than than 1.6 miles,
especially with binocs which are great at night. at that distance,
especially at night it seems like the thing is on top of you (or
maybe that is just my fear having had a couple of close calls). if
the kero lights are so bright, why did the ship need to ask where
they were? should have been readily visible, especially with any
ambient light diminished by the squall.
radar returns are funny too. i have been picked up by some ships
at several miles and also been told that i gave no return at 1/4 mile
by a friend. i fly a standard davis echomaster below my lower
spreaders in the rain catch position. would this have given a better
return in front of that squall? i do not know but i guess i have
more faith in a good 90 degree metal box than a bunch of crumpled
tinfoil i have not laid eyes on in years. practical sailor tested
them years ago and said it worked best.
john churchill

John, I'm with you on kerosene running lights. Even giving Lin Pardey the benefit of the doubt in her running light incident with the ship, low mounted running light of any variety are often blocked from view from a low observer by the genoa or high seas. Only a masthead tri-color is likely to be seen by them. And while the view from a ships bridge is much higher, there is less chance of any light being seen by a non-existing or sloppy watch stander. I also have reservations on whether most ships would bother to change course if they do see you, since it often requires the watchstander to notify the captain or first mate before doing so. Or just because they are bored and wouldn't mind a closer look at you.

I was recently bringing a boat up from Trinidad and had a good size bulk carrier crossing my projected course ahead from left  to right. I had the genny poled out and a preventer on the main and preping dinner and would have preferred not changing course.  I had the right of way but as is my practice with large ships at sea, I normally make an obvious course change to indicate my willingness to avoid a problem if I detect one. But, 'what the heck', I was busy and hungry and I did have the right of way. Still the bearing of the bulk carrier didn't change and wwatch standerng pretty fast, so I made contact on the VHF and asked his intentions. He replied in broken but quite undersandable English, that he was "going this course, 125 degrees; no change".  Which is what I figured he would say. So I changed course. (actually I just rolled in the genny with the pole up and came up a bit. The change combined with the slower speed let the ship pass and dinner was only a little late.

And I do not want to impinge the integrity of all the good ship captains out there but most of todays mulit-million dollar comnbspercialial ships are rugennyogennys efficiently tprepingy cruisers nbsp it cpreping seamanship. Ship owners ofnbspsaddle captains with innbsprienced and/or inadequate crew and abhor spending money on a lot of maintenance.

Personally, I don't care for the CARD transponders. I consider them just another electronic marvel that will let you down when you most needed it and/or makes for lax watch keeping because of crew putting too much faith in its ability to warn of other traffic.

Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! GeoCities - quick and easy web site hosting, just $8.95/month.