Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Submarine V. Sailboat

A reader let me know about this blog post from last month, which claims to have a photo of a Spanish submarine sailing very close to a sailboat taking part in a regatta. Excerpt and photo:
It's not a joke. It took place on Friday afternoon, during the 4th leg of the Vuelta España a Vela (Spain Sailing Tour), from Cartagena to Alicante. While the fleet was approaching Alicante, a submarine suddenly surfaced in front of Endesa-Ceuta. The yacht managed to avoid a head on collision but the extent of damages suffered is not clear. Unfortunately, the photo is fuzzy but the photographer, like the rest of the participants, was caught by surprise. Obviously, nobody was expecting to see a submarine surface in front of them...
As a commenter in the original post points out, it's obvious that the submarine didn't just "surface in front of them"... the bridge is rigged, and they've even got their flag up. Those of us who've ever gone in and out of San Diego (and other ports, I'm sure) know that sailboaters will try to get real close to the submarines to take a picture or whatever. Whenever we left port, it was as likely as not that we'd have to sound the danger signal at some idiot sailboater. Once we even hit one -- reported his dumb ass to the Coast Guard too.

Of course, there was the time back in 1992 that the aircraft carrier steamed out of the fog right into the middle of the America's Cup challenger race off San Diego...

10 Comments:

Blogger Dale B said...

It looks like the two boats are on (or close to) parallel opposing courses with the sailboat leeward of the sub. It's hard to tell from this angle. The sailboat is closehauled on a starboard tack.

For those who aren't familiar with sailboats, close hauled is as close to the wind as you can point (~45 deg. on most boats). If the sailboat had been on a head-on collision course before the picture was taken, it would have had to fall-off (turn away from the wind). That would have put it on at least a close reach or more likely a broad reach. If the sub had turned away to port to avoid a collision, it would be on a course more to windward than it is. I call BS on this. Bubblehead's argument also seems to point at the same BS conclusion.

I'm guessing that the sub and the sailboat were on crossing courses with lots of early warning and the sailboat was trying to deviate as little as possible from its optimal racing course. This is normal beahavior for racing sailboats, at least when they're dealing with each other. It's not uncommon for racing boats crossing courses on opposite tacks to come within inches (or at least a few feet) of each other.

It seems unwise to play this game with someone much larger than you but a race is a race. When racing, a lot of skippers push harder than good judgement would otherwise dictate.

10/01/2007 10:06 AM

 
Blogger J120 Bowman said...

As an avid sailboat racer and former submariner, this picture elicits comments from both. As a sailboat racer (sometimes off of PEV), I always tell sailors to watch out for submarines. Submarines don't maneuver well and they are closer than you think. Sailboats are quiet which makes sonar a crapshoot and at night, sailboats are notorious for not using their running lights to save battery power. With LED's that is changing slowly. As the OOD on a nighttime surface transit from the Bahamas to PEV, I kept ignoring the Contact Coordinator about a radar contact on the horizon, because there was only one red light and there happened to be radio tower onshore in that direction. Eventually my lookout noticed the "tower" was swaying. It was one of those damn tricolor masthead lights. I sped up the boat, did a big right hand turn to go around the sailboat and dutifully woke up the CO to report our 2000 CPA. Amazingly he was so tired he didn't remember the report the next morning. The midnight cowboy strikes again! To this day, that transit still reminds me of why I loved driving submarines. 80 degree night, Straits of Florida, no clouds, lots of stars!

10/01/2007 10:40 AM

 
Blogger NCdt(III) Genest said...

dale b,

I'm still learning the rules of the road, so this might be a stupid question, but wouldn't the sub have turned to starboard, considering they seem to have been on almost reciprocal tracks?

Anyways, I'm glad I'm still riding around in sleek greyhounds of death for the time being, it's a little harder to ignore us.

10/01/2007 12:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genest, a submarine doesn't really have a 'tack', per se, though I suppose by the definition in the racing rules of sailing you could assign a tack to the submarine...

In this case, it would be a standard crossing situation so I believe the sailboat has the right of way (unless I've already forgotten my COLREGS). That's assuming the sub is in navigable water, not constrained by draft (international). Assuming the sailboat has been on starboard tack for a while (not a great assumption, I'll discuss below), if the sub really wanted to cross ahead of the sailboat, she would turn to port (so on the sailboat you'd see more of her profile).

It seems like a moderate wind day, look at the foot of the main and their overlapping jib. It also looks like they have a fair amount of twist based on the curvature of the leech and the angle the upper battens have with the boom. Lots of wind shear maybe?

I also think they had just tacked recently: look at the gib trimmer to leward! *possibly* adjusting his leads, but more likely re-adjusting the trim following a tack before hitting the windward rail. This would have made things interesting for the guys on the sub, trying to figure out what was going on, but not an especially dangerous situation during a race.

10/01/2007 2:13 PM

 
Anonymous EW-3 said...

Since this is during a regatta, I'd have to lean towards the sailboat as being at fault. More than likely they were headed towards the windward mark and did not want to deviate by sailing lower too much and tacking would likely have been out of the question. The rules of the road are rather meaningless sometimes. The guy with the most torpedoes has the right of way.
We had a similar event at a race in Boston Harbor. A sub headed to Charleston berthing cut 100 yards inside of the windward mark as a fleet of 10 J-24s were bearing down on it. Fortunately he cleared long before he had to put up with the lead boats who would have given no quarter.

10/01/2007 5:13 PM

 
Blogger Subvet said...

We used to perform an emergency blow from test depth prior to entering port after a deterrent patrol. Always followed procedure and checked out the immediate area via periscope prior to diving deep. Sonar always monitored the surface as we went down, I know that can be a crapshoot but the point is that time we almost surfaced under a sailboat it definetly wasn't from lack of caution! Boy was HE pissed!

10/01/2007 10:04 PM

 
Anonymous BeachBUmBill said...

If I remember my charts correctly, there are several submarine transit lanes leading offshore from San Pedro.

When sailing/racing around there, I always would start the motor (even if I didn't engage it) to give the subs a chance at avoiding me.

What IS scary though, is freighters in the fog and me on a 30' Ericson.

10/02/2007 6:15 PM

 
Anonymous BKT(SS) said...

Wow, there are some pretty good sailors with sailboat experience on here! . In the 80's I purchased an International 210 and had it tied up in the Pearl Harbor Yacht Club down by Aloha Stadium. I haven't been back since they built the Ford Island bridge but I bet it goes right over or near the Marina. I got the sailboat from some USS Aspro (SSN 648) guys getting out and going back to the states. Myself and a shipmate bought it for $1,200. We had it pulled out onto a cradle and scraped and painted it. I think it was the only International 210 boat in Pearl. Very fast boat. I heard from shipmates that it sank in the harbor after I left Papa Hotel in 84. :(

length 29’ 10”; beam 5’ 10”; draft 3’ 10”; displacement 2300 pounds; ballast 1200; sail area main & jib 305 sq ft;
spinnaker 400 sq ft.

BKT(SS)

10/05/2007 5:17 PM

 
Anonymous Dean said...

We had a port call at Halifax, with a nice regada to greet us. The Skipper was livid when one came at us on a Run with the spinacer set and forcing us to the edge of the chanel, he blew 5 blast on the horn, but the hi point of my visit was the boat that came along within spiting distance to port. They were on a close reach or Beat, Whatever its called, but couldn't match ower cource, and they were getting close, so they came about, put the wind to there stbd, two chicks swong out over the rail (in bikinis) for ballast. One of them holered " See you at the Club latter". I holered back "What club?." ; and they were gone.:(

10/12/2007 6:46 PM

 
Anonymous Dean said...

We had a port call at Halifax, with a nice regada to greet us. The Skipper was livid when one came at us on a Run with the spinacer set and forcing us to the edge of the chanel, he blew 5 blast on the horn, but the hi point of my visit was the boat that came along within spiting distance to port. They were on a close reach or Beat, Whatever its called, but couldn't match ower cource, and they were getting close, so they came about, put the wind to there stbd, two chicks swong out over the rail (in bikinis) for ballast. One of them holered " See you at the Club latter". I holered back "What club?." ; and they were gone.:(

10/12/2007 6:47 PM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home