You can live to be an old sailor.
The orders listed below must be read and are
normally signed in the log by each deck officer before taking his first
watch on the bridge. This is a small ship. If you have the watch, you are
When alone on the bridge you should always
keep in mind that the time for taking action for the vessel's safety is
while there is still time to do so.
In an emergency do not hesitate to slow down,
stop or go astern. Try to call me in time to make the bridge. Use the horn.
The decision will fall to you. If needed, make it!
The watch officer should be on the bridge
at all times and should never leave the bridge until relieved or when it
is known for certain that no close quarters situation can occur before
their return. A few minutes, in open waters, none in close.
When relieving the current watch, the relieving
officer should acquaint himself with the vessel's position, course and
speed, weather conditions(present and expected) and obtain any pertinent
information the watch being relieved may have to pass on: vessels encountered,
amount of traffic, engine/bilge conditions, or other dangers.
As watch officer of this vessel, you are when
on duty, expected to keep a good lookout and see that your assistants do
the same. You are the eyes and ears of the ship. The safety of it and all
aboard, rest in your hands. Unnecessary conversation is not conducive to
keeping a proper watch.
When visibility becomes poor, less than 2
miles, or if you anticipate that it may become poor because of fog, mist,
rain, snow or any other reason, call me. In the meantime, post additional
lookouts as warranted, consider putting the vessel on hand steering and
start the fog horn, turn on running lights.
Be sure the lookout, who is most likely you,
is thoroughly familiar with his duties and keeps alert. Our running lights
are to protect us from being rammed and sunk. When on, they should
be checked every hour. Do not put yourself in danger of going overboard
while checking the lights. Be certain they are each working.
It is good practice to use the radar and plot
targets at all times, even in clear weather.
Call me at any time - if in doubt - but do
it in time. Better too soon than too late. Call me if the weather worsens
or you think it may be necessary to slow down.
In poor visibility, the radar must be turned
on. Use no more than 4-6 miles range for spotting small targets. Do not
use the longer ranges except for brief periods. 3, sometimes 1 1/2 mile
ranges are best for small targets.
Do not let the vessel pound. If you think
she will pound or shows a tendency to pound, slow down and/or alter course
slightly, and if necessary call me.
This vessel is to be put on hand steering,
prior to any close quarters situation with any other vessel. Or, near(100-150
yards) ANY other fixed dangers, buoys, rocks, etc.
Give passing vessels a wide berth. Don't try
to bluff others out of their right-of-way. At sea keep at least 1 mile
off passing vessels if possible, more if you think necessary. Call me for
meeting or crossing situations of less than 2 miles for slow moving vessels
and 3-4 miles if they are fast or big.
At night or during poor visibility, do not
come within 1 1/2 miles(in front, side or back) of any tug with long tow.
3 vertical white lights, forward, a yellow over white at the stern. Long
tows are to be treated as extremely dangerous. Call me immediately, if
At ranges exceeding our running lights. Turn
on the searchlight for fast moving large vessels or tugs with tow(point
at them), when at a distance of 6-8 miles. Leave on for about 2-4 minutes.
At a distance of 3-4 miles do this again for about 1-2 minutes. Let them
know someone is out there. Avoid running the searchlight near other vessels.
If you think a near collision situation is
developing, don't hesitate to get on the VHF radio, channel 16 and warn
the other vessel off. Use the searchlight(not into his pilothouse), to
assure he is aware of who is making the noise on the radio.
Watch out for small craft and fishing vessels.
Many do not carry proper lights. If you encounter a fishing fleet, call
Use the radar, fathometer and GPS to constantly
to verify our position. If water depths approach 20 fathoms or less, call
If you note a discrepancy between what you
believe is our proper location and that which the radar, depth finder or
GPS indicate, call me.
If you find any indication that the vessel
is headed into danger, call me.
In clear weather, use every practical opportunity
to practice radar plotting the tracks of other vessels. Learn to accurately
estimate the closest point of approach(CPA).
At night, lights which degrade the night vision
of the lookout(s) must be suppressed. Every effort should be made to keep
extraneous lights to a minimum. Use colored flashlights(red or blue) for
reading charts and instruments, raiding the pantry, etc. Nightscopes blind
the user. The red sidelight has the least impact on the night vision scope.
Lights from the radar, chart plotter, fishfinders,
etc., should be lowered to the lowest brilliance setting which still allows
them to be seen. Navigation lights should be screened to prevent the masthead
light from showing on the forward deck. Similar measures for the side lights
and stern light.
Especially if you are alone, do not take any
action which might place you in danger, such as going near where you might
fall overboard. If needed, ask for assistance.
Certain equipment belongs to the Captain.
Do not turn off running lights or make changes to settings without permission,
to the radar, depth finder or GPS.
There are no private mistakes aboard a vessel
at sea. The Ship and everyone aboard will share in the outcome.
The Captain's job is to control mistakes and
extricate the ship from any that happen. Bring them to me before it is
You will not die from being chewed out. It
is just part of the process of learning. But if you hesitate to act, or
call me in a timely fashion, you might expire in a cold sea, along with
everyone aboard. Keep that in mind.
The "lady with the green eye's", who lives
in the deep, is always out to kill you and unlike you, she never
sleeps, daydreams or makes a mistake!!
Stay alert. Never make the same mistake
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1998. Captain Michael Maurice, USCG MAster. All rights reserved.