Ella’s Pink Lady/Silver Yang: The Watchkeeper Who Thought A Girl Was A Buoy

 Accident, Accident report, ATSB, Australia, collision, colregs  Comments Off on Ella’s Pink Lady/Silver Yang: The Watchkeeper Who Thought A Girl Was A Buoy
Jun 292010
 

imageMuch 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:

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Jessica Didn’t See Silver Yang

 Accident report, collision, collision regulations  Comments Off on Jessica Didn’t See Silver Yang
Oct 192009
 

imageJessica Watson checked her radar at 0146 to check for traffic before taking a 20 minute catnap she spotted a vessel about 6 miles off her starboard quarter and in a safe situation so went to sleep with an alarm set. Her alarm didn’t wake her, the collision of her tiny yacht with a 225 metre bulker five minutes later as the officer of the watch tried to avoid her did that job.

What Jessica had not seen in her radar check, for reasons we’ll have to await the final Australian Transport Safety Board to find out, was the Silver Yang just a mile off. ATSB released its preliminary report a diplomatic two days after the 16-year old adventurer departed Mooloolaba, Queensland, for what will be a trip of a lifetime. It will be another six months or so before the final report is released but ATSB is distributing the preliminary report to highlight the issue of yacht-ship encounters and hit-and-run vesssels.

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Oct 192009
 

image Embrace Jessica Watson, regardless of what the ATSB report, to be released on Tuesday says about the wisdom of a 16 year old girl going around the world solo. After all, who, in their right mind really wants to go to sea these days? Don’t tut-tut at her parents, it took them courage and love to allow their daughter to take such a risk but sooner or later parents have to let their children chart their own course – and what ‘wise’ parent would allow their offspring go to sea these days?

She probably made a mistake the first time out but mistakes happen. She’s wiser now, and safer. But that’s not the point. Here’s a teenager, a young woman, who has the capability of reinvigorating that spirit of of adventure that sent so many young men to sea in times past, and sends young women to sea today.

Young men and women that the industry needs today. Seafaring isn’t ‘cool’ these days, but Jessica Watson could make it so – if the industry is wise enough to make her its poster child for a new generation of seafarers.

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Sep 112009
 

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