Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How long will it take this tanker to overtake me in the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Even if you understand how fast a knot is, you don't know how many knots a boat is traveling. Especially a big tanker. They move faster than you may think.

See the big tanker in the distance in the shipping channel of the St. Lawrence Seaway?

It has crossed under the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge that connects New York State in the U.S. to Ontario, Canada and is traveling west in my direction.

Question: How many minutes from the distance you see in the image above will it take that tanker to overtake me in my kayak if I'm in its way?

Not sure?

Me neither.

I sat in the safety of the sidelines closer to shore and watched this massive tanker approach in the shipping channel and kept time with my watch.
Answer: It was passing me 10 minutes later.

How far away was it when I turned around and saw it? I'm not sure.

How fast was it going? I don't know. Maybe 10 to 12 knots.

Could I hear tankers approaching from behind in the shipping channel parallel to my paddling route with the wind in my ears? No! Not until they were passing me. This came as a surprise.

I was always well out of the way of the shipping channel, but you would think you would hear them coming from a distance. Not so.

If I had been paddling with my back to the ship in or near the shipping channel, I would not have heard it coming in time to get out of its way.

This is the SOLEY-1.

It's a chemical tanker with a vessel flag from Malta.

How big is it? Length: 491 feet, Breadth: 76 feet, Depth: 42 feet. Deadweight tonnage: 19,991

Wow! It's hard to believe. If you think that's big, look up the size and speed of cruise ships. That'll scare you.

Now it's easier to understand how much water the big ships displace and the big swells and boat wakes they kick up when they pass in narrower channels. The swells and pitchy chop hit about 5 to 10 minutes after it passed.

My Maelstrom Vital 166 suddenly got excited and said, "Giddyup, let's go!" I wasn't paying attention and the swells came from behind as I watched the tanker head off into the sunset. But the waves and swells weren't big enough to catch a little surfing moment. Sorry Vital. And I couldn't pick up my camera again until the tanker was long gone.

If you can see the name of the ship from a safe distance using your binoculars or a good zoom on your camera, you can do a vessel search using the name of the ship and find out more about it. It makes for an interesting pastime or hobby.

Vessel Search

U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Information Exchange

Happy and safe paddles.
Watch out for the big ships. They are fun to watch when you're safe.

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