Much coverage of the Australian Transport Safety Board report on the collision between round-the-world yachtswoman Jessica Watson’s Ella’s Pink Lady, a 10 metre sloop and the 225 metre Panamax bulker Silver Yang has focussed on the hit-and-run aspects of the case but there remain cautionary aspects that apply to both professional mariners and the yachties with whom they too often share seaspace.
The ‘Leaping Light’ phenomenon appears again, as it has in several cases of night-time collision.
Typically a watchkeeper notes a light which is assumed to be a vessel running ahead on a parallel course, or a fixed light such as a buoy. Suddenly, the light appears to ‘swerve’ towards the watchkeeper’s vessel, having in fact been a vessel on zero CPA and it’s usually too late to avoid a collision. Here’s how it looked from the Silver Yang: