A recent news article published in the Soundings Online speaks about a story about a stranded ship in the Chesapeake Bay.
Stranded ship in the Chesapeake Bay
In early December, Soundings contributor John Wooldridge sent me a link to a story about a stranded ship in the Chesapeake Bay. The ship had become an object of curiosity in the Washington, D.C. region, drawing onlookers to a bayside park to watch the effort to refloat the cargo vessel. The story revealed the results of a U.S. Coast Guard investigation of the incident.
As it turns out, the 1,095-foot container ship Ever Forward ended up running aground because the pilot was drafting an email when he should have ordered a turn.
The investigation revealed that the pilot, who had 15 years of experience, was distracted by a problem from the moment he came aboard the vessel that was running from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia. He was on the phone for about half of the two-hour trip down the bay. Then, as the ship was on its proper course through a bend in the shipping channel, the pilot began writing that email, just as the ship passed a point where it should have made a turn to the right. As a result, Ever Forward ended up stuck on the muddy bottom. The ship remained stationary for five weeks.
Importance of staying focused at the helm
John wanted to share that story because it reminded him of the person who taught him the importance of staying focused at the helm, and of situational awareness. “Our mutual friend and mentor Dan Fales taught me many things about running boats, including how critical it is to make the time to look up from your instruments and charts to peer ahead,” John says.
Fales, who died in 2012, was a marine magazine editor, a technical consultant on Chapman Piloting and Seamanship, a member of the U.S. Power Squadrons and New York Yacht Club, and an all-around great guy to have on board. “I got to know Dan on the delivery of a Trojan 12 Meter from Annapolis to Miami,” John says. “It was my first ICW delivery, and I’ll never forget it because Dan continuously cautioned me to always keep a lookout ahead.”
Experiences that teach us something important about boating
John’s anecdote got me thinking about those experiences that teach us something important about boating, as well as the people who deliver the message.
In this issue, Peter Frederiksen talks about the moment he realized safety was the first rule of good seamanship. He recalls the day he saw the excited owner of a new boat do a face-plant in the cockpit. After the owner jumped aboard, his feet slipped out from under him because his worn-out sneakers were no match for the wet sole. “His misfortune was a reminder to me that nobody should ever take safety for granted, no matter how much or how little experience they have,” Peter writes.
Many people who have spent time on the water have a few good stories about the seamanship lessons they’ve learned, the interesting way. I suspect that readers of Soundings have their fair share of salty tales. Please, take a minute to drop me a line and share your personal experiences. The lessons you have learned could benefit someone else in the future.
This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue.
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Source: Soundings Online