Ships are big. Using the radar, we determined the course and distance on the pictured container ship. The ship was about ¾ of a mile out.
Ships like these carry a massive amount of cargo, weighing thousands of tons and are fast. They appear as a grey speck on the horizon or a dim light at night, and within half an hour, it is crossing your bow. For as large as they are, you would think that they would be lit up like a Christmas tree; but in reality, there is usually a dim light on the bow, a dim light above the superstructure and possibly running lights.
When the ship appears to stay stationary but is getting bigger, you are on a collision course. Usually, we change course or heave to, especially if it’s night or heavy weather. Once I radioed a large United States Naval Vessel that was bearing down on us. I asked the radio operator what their intentions were. They responded with a heading. I was under sail and asked them to alter their heading because we were on a collision course. They swung hard to starboard and passed at a safe distance. Nice guys.
No matter how many times a ship passes us, we are always amazed at how big they are. They are comparable to downtown office high rises. Some of the ships need to operate in 40 to 60 feet of water.
Caprica needs 6 feet of water under her hull.