Even though sailboats have right of way over powered vessels on the open ocean, it is always best to stay out of the way of ships. In areas with restricted maneuverability, the bigger ships often have a legal right of way.
With good visibility, it is easy to read the ship’s range lights at night (or its masts during the day), to figure out what they are doing, and plan accordingly. But if visibility is restricted, such as in fog, the situation becomes a lot more difficult.
On May 28, 2003, the sailing vessel Wahkuna collided with the container ship Nedlloyd in the English Channel. We’ve obtained a copy of the official report on the accident from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch. The report goes into fascinating detail about what happened on the ship, and the yacht, and what could have been done differently to avoid the problems in the first place.
To download a copy of this report, click here.