Sailing Movie Workshop - Chapter 1, Collision At Sea

Chapter 1, Collision At Sea

All Is Analyzed: A Sailing Movie Learning Workshop

Chapter 1, Collision At Sea

In this opening chapter of ASA’s Sailing Movie Workshop the skipper is faced with a terrible situation while sailing alone at sea – he slams into a floating container from a cargo ship. The boat is severely damaged and he does what he thinks was best. Do we agree?

Watch the video clip & leave your comments below…

Please note the video intentionally has no sound – we are simply using it to depict a situation for discussion

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Pat Reynolds
Admin

I have to believe the first thing I’d instinctually do is try to move (and save?) the electronics and anything else that was getting quickly ruined under the flow of water, not just walk by as everything is getting destroyed. I’d just sweep everything out of that area, stick an extra sail in the hole and then go outside and find out what’s happening.

R. Hubbard
Guest
R. Hubbard

Yeah, he grabs his notebook (or whatever?) but leaves his laptop under the torrent of water… I mean saltwater and electronics don’t mix but there’s always a chance it might still work and since it only just happened you’d think quickly moving things somewhere drier wouldn’t make the situation any worse.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Electronics (laptops in particular – unless a “tough book”) are pretty much toast after salt water gets to them. There are a lot of marine electronics that are water resistant, but that flood would probably fry them, too.

Perhaps the notebook was a list of plotted locations? Not clear from the clip (and I didn’t see the movie). If the notebook was charted positions, that would be useful in notifying rescue to establish a search grid.

Greg Kirk
Guest
Greg Kirk

I figured that was his log book. A sensible thing to preserve I would think.

Peter Isler
Guest
Peter Isler

He could have put out a PAN PAN message … but I like that he got right into action – its daylight and the weather is calm the sooner he gets the situation sorted… the less damage to the hull. The corner of the container seems wedged in the hull and the wave action will likely cause further damage – ultimately catastrophic. There is NO way to plug the hole or stem the water flow until the container is detached from the hull. So lowering/furling the sails is the first correct move as continuing to sail forward would cause further… Read more »

John
Guest
John

My practice is to use plotting sheets and maintain course, position and speed updates every watch change. Glad I do after seeing this.

Geza sinkovics
Guest
Geza sinkovics

He shouldn’t have slept in the V berth like tied in a slip when alone at sea.
He could have seen the container if he was up top and more alert.

John
Guest
John

Single handed sailors have to sleep at some point… given the flat seas, light wind, and the fact that he’s in the middle of the ocean the risk of going down below for a nap is relatively low… and napping in the cockpit would not have changed this situation (other than his pants might have stayed dry!). I’m sure that sleep depravation can lead to equally disastrous problems.

Geza
Guest
Geza

I’d still sleep close to the cockpit instead of passing out in the V berth. I’v done long trips, it’s caled “prudent seanship”, that’s all

Mark
Guest
Mark

Solo sailors get their sleep when they can. You just can’t stay awake for the entire passage. The V berth may not have been the best location for a nap, given the calm, warm weather, but even if he had slept in the cockpit that wouldn’t have changed things – much. Perhaps he could have heard the first impact / contact? Given how limp the sails were, I don’t think he was making much headway, so that first contact may have been a rub, or a bump. The container wouldn’t have been moving very quickly, even so, it doesn’t take… Read more »

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Before even speaking about what to do after contact with the container, we must review with students the importance of rule 5. Which is the international rule to maintain a proper lookout at all times. Sailing along while napping below under any circumstances could potentially be dangerous for a multitude of reasons. The very first thing I would have done is put a lifejacket on. Sailing alone is bad enough, without a flotation device on of some kind. Toss in a hull breach and not wearing a lifejacket is another serious talking point for instruction. I personally in that situation… Read more »

pat
Guest
pat

Interesting comments, but wanted to politely point out solo sailors can’t maintain a lookout at all times

Etienne Giroire ATN
Guest
Etienne Giroire ATN

life jacket is dumb: if you fall off the boat, the life jacket will help you watch the boat sail away and keep you suffering longer. stay with the boat as long as possible is THE LAW. and sailing alone is great. I recommend it to anyone wanting to be a better sailor.

KMR
Guest
KMR

Aren’t boats now made to the stds. of cars nowadays? that bells and whistles beep the hellbout of you, (radar)???,to detect incoming objects? This could be avoided?
T.YY

Jan Moniz
Guest
Jan Moniz

I have seen this movie three times; it is easy for me to sit in the comfort of a theater or at home and consider what I may have done. It’s another thing to be there and actually do it! It is my perception that he may have been a little at his wits end and while I have not crossed the ocean alone, I have no idea what that may feel like. At best, I would have moved a little faster to save electronics or at least used them before they became unusable. The second thing I would have… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Considering the short clip shown… he may have had better luck overall had he:
1. activated the bilge pumps immediately
2. preserved the electronics
3. issued a Pan-Pan call and establish comms with something close by
4. heeled the boat (hove to) to relieve the pressure on the hole and prevent some water influx
Lots of things to address about preparation in this movie – knowing how to use the emergency gear, having a handheld VHF backup, etc – many things that are taught in ASA 103. hope the preparation aspect is included in one of these segments!

Betty Clark
Guest
Betty Clark

I agree with Lisa!
A group of us sailors saw this movie a year? ago and thought it was a good lesson in what not to do.

Ken Edwards
Guest
Ken Edwards

As a new sailor, I really appreciate this format AND obviously experienced skippers weighing in!

Ericrogerh@gmail
Guest
Ericrogerh@gmail

A lot of good feed back here, hoping for a Coast Guard approved ASA correct answer.

ASA
Admin

Not sure there is a “correct” answer, but a lot of people have shared some good advice so far.

Cfremomt
Guest
Cfremomt

Having been on a boat that was taking on water, stopping the water was first thing on my mind. Evacuating the water was second. This is what we practice and under stress you will do what you practice. The threat to your survival cause the fight or flight response and training will save lives. There are numerous errors that the captain of this vessel in the movie did,and we a sailors can see them, the general public will not and I believe we all can learn from from them.

KMR
Guest
KMR

Pls. pt. out these boo boos.
Thks!

G Jones
Guest
G Jones

I’ve watch this movie a few times, just to go over some of the things that might have been done differently. However, even in this situation. The mindset of each and every sailor will be different. So will the actions they will take. Some of the points which I found to be wrong in this clip. First, sleeping in the v-bed while underway, alone. Not an option. Second and most importantly, no life vest, no life line attached. Reckless to say the least. These are basic seamanship standards. As far as trying to save the electronics, waste of time. The… Read more »

John
Guest
John

After having read all the replys I tend to agree with you the most. As the” movie” goes I believe that his was depressed and really didn’t care one way or another and was ok with whatever happened , until faced with ultimate death.

Jill
Guest
Jill

The very first thing he should have done was put on a life jacket! Next I would radio for help so the Coast Guard is on its way. Third, if possible, I would use the sails to dislodge the boat from the barge and then keep the boat on a tack such that the side with the hole is on the windward side. This will give me the ability to inspect the damage without water pouring in and allowing the bilge pump to catch up. It would also buy time for help to arrive.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Yep, dislodge first using the motor and/or sails with whatever you have to pry it loose. Then turn the boat to keep the starboard side up out of the water for however long it takes for help to arrive and/or to make necessary repairs on the fly. At this point your heading doesn’t matter.

Jean Andre
Guest
Jean Andre

I agree with Lisa and Betty here, and I also like the idea of putting a PFD right away, and yes, very well pointed that ASA 103 covers the preparation steps that could have helped a lot. I second that solo sailors (myself included) should do their best to “Keep a Lookout” and establish a short nap regime, but even then it is not impossible to hit a container. Also, assuming bilge pumps not working, if possible he could have started his motor and used the Raw water intake as an “emergency bilge emptying device”… Lastly, just to add some… Read more »

ASA
Admin

Some great advice from everyone so far! Thanks for participating.

Peter
Guest
Peter

I agree with most of the comments with a couple of additions: drop the sails, start your engine, all your pumps should be on automatic. heel the boat, get over the side with a piece of plywood and a cordless screw driver (tie yourself to the boat is obvious) As a single handler I sleep in the cockpit (badly) at six knots the horizon is three hours away. I’m not sure how you hit something at that angle in a calm sea and you shouldn’t have so much sail up when you’re sleeping, if any.

Jeff.Sailor
Guest
Jeff.Sailor

Peter, I think there’s a glitch in the math here. On a boat this size, standing in cockpit, the horizon is about 3 miles away. At 6 kts. that’s 30 minutes away.

Bruce
Guest
Bruce

Why is it that leaks always seem to occur right on top of the electronics?

Vic DeMattia
Guest
Vic DeMattia

Move the radio of the water. Turn on the bilge pump(s) Start the engine and drive off of the container. Keep it running for power. Grab the main halyard and pass it through the boom bale. Grab a sail bag, attach it to the main halyard, chuck it overboard and let it fill with water by pumping it up and down, making a sea anchor. Haul away sheeting the boom out on the side away from the hole. Once the hole is out of the water, be about stuffing the hole with a cushion, spare sail, etc. Make radio calls… Read more »

kevin
Guest
kevin

We could have been spared watching this whole movie if he had turned his radar on and set the guard alarm for 2 miles while he slept

Greg Kirk
Guest
Greg Kirk

I would be very surprised if a radar set on a cruising boat would detect a container floating with all of about a foot of freeboard from the clutter or the waves.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Certainly save more off the chart table before going topside. It appears like he is in irons so a radio call Pan pan would be next then try to stop the flood with a spare sail. Move gear to port to raise the hole out of the waves

Paul
Guest
Paul

I agree with Lisa to start with plus stuff the hole with cushions to try to restrict the flow of water into the cabin. In addition at some point I would of started the motor to try move away from the container.

Old Ray
Guest
Old Ray

I suppose that its my lack of experience , but I cannot envision how a stationary 30 ton sea container can ram the stern of a sailboat moving in light winds. in the same current as the container. so the bow should have rammed the container. OK they need a bad collision and they invented one now what . I should have backup emergency electronics properly stowed , so don’t waste time with the wet electronics. If their is proper winds hove to. if not drop sails , tie on a tether get a proper pry, board the container and… Read more »

Greg Kirk
Guest
Greg Kirk

The container isn’t stationary, it’s drifting with the wind and waves. Judging by the position of the boom, My guess would be he was sailing close hauled, say about 45 degrees off the wind. The container is drifting along with the wind/surface waves in a roughly windward direction. In light air with just the main up lets assume he’s making 3 knots, and the container is drifting along about about 1. the container could impact anywhere along the hull on the windward side. Because it hit the boat behind the mast/keel the impact energy would have turned him into the… Read more »

Stan Jones
Guest
Stan Jones

(1) seeing water on floor urgent to investigate which he did (2) Seeing the hole he needed to patch it but first to quickly assess what might have caused it which he did (3) Saw the container – Good (4) lower sail to depower boat so he can reduce force even in the light wind or lack thereof so limits force that might twist boat vs container to lessen likelihood of more damage – good (5) Wasted effort with boat hook to pry – never work with boat/container of size involved (an wooden oar might have had a chance) –… Read more »

Charles Kenyon
Guest
Charles Kenyon

Put on PFD.
Put out some fenders to try to keep container from enlarging hole.
Put on harness before messing with container.
Use of boathook is not appropriate. They do not have the structural strength to act as a pry bar.
Dropping sails was appropriate. I likely would start engine but not engage prop.
PAN PAN radio call

Bruce
Guest
Bruce

Does anybody know if radar would have detected that shipping container?

KMR
Guest
KMR

Yes! That’s exactly what I mean! Glad I’m not the only one ‘thinking outside the box!

Rich
Guest
Rich

I recently sailed to St. Thomas USVI in the same boat, a Cal 39, and it’s hard to imagine how that accident could have happened in the first place. I found the movie to be ridiculous from a sailing point of view. I went day sailing in the Long Island Sound better equipped than this guy for sailing around the world. I think at the very least I would have put the boat on the opposite tack in order to get the damaged portion of the hull as far out of the water as possible. Also, how would a drougue… Read more »

Ben
Guest
Ben

Move off the container before it does more damage. Go on stbd tack to raise hole higher. Reef sails. Plug hole. Pan-Pan. Fix hole as possible.

ted
Guest
ted

1) Save the radio
2) RADIO FOR HELP!!!
3) Deal with the situation.

Rob Nye
Guest
Rob Nye

So I panned this yesterday because it’s a impractical scenario as presented. Now let’s discuss what would really happen. First, it isn’t going to be flat calm. You’re on a sailboat under way, chances are you have some heel on. You’re also probably not sleeping in the v berth, it’s way to bouncy. When you hit the object it will most likely be between the bow and the chainplates and under the water line. You’ll know you hit something unless you are on a big yacht. Immediately after impact check to see if you can identify what you hit; a… Read more »

Greg Kirk
Guest
Greg Kirk

He secured his logbook (good). He didn’t set the bilge pump to manual (bad but not critical as the auto switch ought to already be engaging the pump) He didn’t take action to slow the water ingress. (bad) think some effort to stop the flow of water around the point of impact would buy you more time. Stuffing a cushion or two around the edges where the worst inflow is might have helped slow it some. He headed up on deck to see what he’d hit. (good). You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is. Took… Read more »

ASA
Admin

Thanks everyone for the great comments!! Don’t forget to check out Chapter 2! http://asa.com/sailing-movie-workshop/chapter-2-breaking-free/

Dan henry
Guest
Dan henry

I would put the dingy over the side fill it with water after its tied to the boom and make the boat heel then check ditch kit and check the damage to see what can be done

rick
Guest
rick

Should have declared a Pan Pan or May day before messing around with books and sails. Should have grabbed pillows to stuff in the hole, started the engine and turned on the back up bilge pump , put on life vest.

marcel
Guest
marcel

I hope that my old navy / Coast guard Auxiliary Training would kick in is this would ever happened to me. The first thing I learned SAP “C”. Stop – asses – Plan. First things first – PFD on STOP boat – Lower sail Assess – Looks like hole is above water line so water ingress should be fairly easy to control. Plan: Put a plug in the hole. A seat cushion wedge in Place would be a start. Tie boat to container. to keep about of water ingress manageable , until efficient damage control can be done. a tarp/sail… Read more »

Lou L
Guest
Lou L

1. Call an immediate may day and fire off the flares.
Secure a lifejacket for your aboard group including yourself. Activate the bildge pump. Start the engine head for shore.

Jeff.Sailor
Guest
Jeff.Sailor

Does this scene even make sense? If the water was rushing in then the hole had to be below the waterline. The weight of the water would sink the boat and the rate of inflow would increase until either the buoyancy of the container counteracted the added weight of the sailboat, or the hull of the boat cracked from the opposing pressures and foundered. Somehow he’s got to stop the inflow, even if its some clever way to separate from the container and then quickly plug the hole. The only things I can imagine are issuing a mayday, quickly separating… Read more »

paul
Guest
paul

Considering that it is a movie I don’t believe the container would have hit the side of the boat and put a hole in it like that unless it was moving it would have slid down alongside of the boat. The condition seems pretty calm that container it would be moving with the current and a boat made been doing a few knots regardless I would have start at the motor turn hard to starboard to swing the Stern away from the container

Eva
Guest
Eva

I havent even taken ASA 101 yet (next week!!) but… Don’t you think maybe he should have, I don’t know, moved a little faster and dealt with the GIANT HOLE first? Like, got his radio set out of the waterfall so he would have a prayer of calling for help? And what good does reefing the sail do, I don’t see it blowing very hard, probably I would have tried to figure out how to save the radio, used it to call for help, and started cramming all my extra sails, cushions, blankets, heck my clothes, the furniture, into the… Read more »

KMR
Guest
KMR

As an illiterate of sailing,(but not for long) something instinctually tells me he didn’t
follow proper procedure for the 911 as EMT’s would do. I’d stop the flooding! Hello!