Capt. Mike's
General Standing Orders

  1. 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 that person!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. It is good practice to use the radar and plot targets at all times, even in clear weather.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 in doubt.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Watch out for small craft and fishing vessels. Many do not carry proper lights. If you encounter a fishing fleet, call me.
  19. Use the radar, fathometer and GPS to constantly to verify our position. If water depths approach 20 fathoms or less, call me.
  20. 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.
  21. If you find any indication that the vessel is headed into danger, call me.
  22. 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).
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. There are no private mistakes aboard a vessel at sea. The Ship and everyone aboard will share in the outcome.
  28. The Captain's job is to control mistakes and extricate the ship from any that happen. Bring them to me before it is too late.
  29. 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.
  30. 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!! 
You can live to be an old sailor.
Stay alert. Never make the same mistake twice.

Return to Main page      © Copyright 1998. Captain Michael Maurice, USCG MAster. All rights reserved.