Day 11 Passage To Darwin “Shipt Dead Ahaead!”
It was a very exciting evening last night when I took over watch at midnight from Cary. Cary was have the time of his life traveling 10 to 12 knotes with current racing through the shipping lane. When I came out on deck and looked ahead it was difficult to make out navigational maker lights and the shore lights were lit up like a Christmass tree. So Cary waited for me to get my bearings on were the shipping lane was and the forth coming nav aids. It was funny how Cary put it “its like riding blind on the line”. Its funny because at night you cant really see anything in front of you, you rely on your compass, nav lights, and charts that you have drawn a line to follow. So after Cary went down to sleep I was alone yet again on a beautiful star lit night.
About 30 minutes into my shift I was approaching the Prince Whales shipping channel at the very tip of Queensland Australia Province. The VHF radio erupted into shipping chatter and the one indication of a ship in front of me was a small sailing vessel nothing more. So I continued hugging the far right side of the shipping lane. Then a hale to a sailing vessel sailing south bound please respond. I looked at my compass and I was heading west bound so gave it no thought. Yet again the cargo ship haled and I responded not knowing if I was the sailing vessel or the one a mile in front of me. I was told to pass red to red running lights and continue. At the same time I had the radar running and looking up the channel I could see something that looked like a Island right in my path on the wrong side of the shipping lane. Looking out over the water I could see 3 red lights one blinking, and two sold red. SO I new the blinking had to be a nav aid and the other two had to be ships. Between the radio chatter and the speed at 10 knots the situation was escalating fast so I maintained my course when the cargo ship radio to say they could only see my green running light so a turn 90 degrees straight out of the shipping channel confirming he saw red and then a great big ship appeared out of the dark night and passed us with in a two boat length. The ship was deadhead of us the whole time and he was taking up the entire shipping lane. Then right behind him was another tug boat pushing a barge through the channel which I navigated without a problem because he was on the right side of the shipping lane. Finally after we made it out of the channel and back into the ocean we calmed down and everybody else went back to bed, what a exciting night.
CUrrent Position: 02:39UTC, 10deg 33min South, 140deg 30min East, COG 270degM, SOG 5kts, CLear Skies, Swell <1 meter