Manure Aboard – S.H.I.T

Saling Ship - Atlas
A portrait of the East Indiaman ‘Atlas’, shown off South Foreland, near Dover, in broadside view. By William John Huggins – Royal Museums Greenwich, Public Domain,

During the 16th and 17th centuries, all trading goods  were transported by ship.This was before the invention of commercial fertilizers, so large shipments of manure were quite common.

Manure was shipped in dry form as it weighed a lot less than when wet. Once water (at sea) hit it, not only did it become heavier, but the process of fermentation began. It’s  by-product was methane gas. As it was stored below decks in bundles,  you can imagine what could and did happen.  Methane began to build-up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern – BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined what was happening.   The bundles of manure were then always stamped with the instruction “Stow High In Transit”. This meant for sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this “volatile” cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus evolved the term ‘ S.H.I.T ‘ , (Stow High In Transit) which has come down through the centuries and remains in use today as a well-recognised slang word. These sailors definitely would have been in “deep shit” (meaning in trouble) if someone had taken a lantern below!

Thanks to Captain Gavin for providing us with this little gem of maritime history.

NMC Image 7162.2

Safe boating guidelines

Planning to go boating for the summer holidays?  Before obtaining a boat licence, buying a boat and perfecting your destination, take some time to review these safe boating guidelines:

  • Book on a one day boat licence course delivered by an approved training provider using qualified maritime trainers. This will give you the best chance of gaining essential knowledge, rules and skills you need to keep your vessel, yourself, family and friends safe.
  • Ensure you have the required in-date, safety equipment aboard your vessel. Know how to use it and where it is stowed.
  • Check current weather conditions and be prepared for the elements – Wear appropriate clothing. (Don’t forget sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and provisions) Summer thunderstorms and severe wind gusts are common during the summer months.
  • Boating at night is challenging – your vision is restricted and it’s more difficult to see whats happening around you. Ensure you have the correct navigation lighting and safety equipment on board if boating at night. Keep a good lookout and travel at a safe speed appropriate for the conditions.
  • Day or night pay attention to your surroundings. Be aware of other vessels around you and comply with speed limits, safe distances, and local state rules. The waterways are busier during summer – reduce your speed and give yourself more time, planning the day accordingly.
  • Five short, rapid blasts on your vessel’s horn means “danger – what are your intentions, stay clear.”
  • Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 on your marine radio.
  • Be prepared to move out of the way of larger vessels. They may not be able to see you, or, if operating in a narrow channel may be restricted by their ability to manoeuvre. Even if you have the right-of-way, you must yield to them.
  • Consult  your area charts – Look for chartered depths, hazards and restricted areas for your boating destination.
  • Obtain up-to-date tide, wind and current information before heading out.
  • Never get between a vessel and its tow – Tow cables/lines are often submerged and not visible.
  • Listen out for float planes taking off and landing. There is a designated safety zone around moving aircraft. A Foward Safety Zone of 60 metres in front of a moving aircraft and a 30 metre Aft Safety Zone behind a moving aircraft.
  • Boat respectfully – Keep wake and wash to a minimum to avoid damage to sensitive habitat, property or other vessels.
  • Even though there is a valuable place at the helm of your vessel for much of the technology available, remember eyes and ears are still the most valuable tools you have. Safe boating practice means balancing the technology you have at your helm, with full awareness of the environment around you.
  • Engage your crew and passengers by getting them to assist as lookouts. Maintaining a good lookout is a collective activity for all on board.
  • Report incidents – If you are involved in a boating incident or, see anyone violating safe boating practices, contact your local State Maritime Authority or in an emergency, press VHF: Channel 16 on your marine radio or, phone 000.
  • Be wary of the effects of drugs and alcohol when consumed on the water. Wind, water, sun and fresh air environment combine to intensify the effects which can affect balance, slow reaction abilities and impair judgement. Driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence.

More Information

See Boating Rules and Safe Boating guidelines published on the National Maritime College website.
Go to the NSW Roads and Maritime website to view their “Safety on the Water” section.

Keep well clear of large ships and their “blind spot”

If you cruise along the coast, offshore or enter a port or harbour with commericial shipping you will encounter large ships.

Large ships especially cargo vessels with the bridge and accommodation at the rear have a large blindspot which extends several hundred metres in front of the bow.Take care not to get caught inside this little known area called the “blind spot”. Inside this area, you will become invisible to both visual and radar scanning.

Cargo ships are often built with the bridge and crew quarters located at the rear to keep the forward decks open for freight and storage. Crew keep watch from the bridge, high up off the deck. The bow blocks their view in the area illustrated by yellow diagonal lines.

Rule 18: Responsibilities between vessels

In this rule of the International Collision Regulations (ColRegs/Steering Rules) the priorities of all vessels are specified. Power driven, sailing and fishing vessels are all required to keep well clear, give way and should pass  astern of these vessels.  They also must not impede their passage when in designated shipping channels as these vessels are restricted by their draft and ability to manoeuvre. When in a swing basin or berth they will likely be accompanied by tugs or other vessels.

What to do when you sight a ship
If you see a ship or another vessel heading your way, you can easily establish if you’re on a collision course simply by looking at the vessel and noting where that line of sight crosses your boat. Over a short period of time if that bearing does not alter, then you’re on a collision course.

Establishing line of sight by compass
Obtain a bearing by using hand-bearing compass or swing the bow of your vessel toward the ship and take a magnetic bearing. Write the bearing down. Note the location on the ship where you took the bearing (bow, beam, mast, superstructure, stern). Wait two to three minutes and take a second bearing to the same object. Take a third bearing with your compass two to three minutes later and then compare all bearings.

You are looking for a separation of at least 3 degrees between bearings. You want all bearings to increase or decrease in succession. Bearings that look like this: 004°, 008°, 012° are increasing to the right, called “right bearing drift”. Bearings that look like this: 108°, 104°, 100° are decreasing to the left, called “left bearing drift”.

If you note a slower rate of drift (less than three degrees of separation) or no change in bearings at all, this indicates a risk of collision. Take another bearing for verification if you have the time. If you still show little to no change, take action to avoid a collision. You could change course, change speed, slow down or stop. Avoid small changes in course or speed. Make your actions apparent to the ship to avoid confusion.

Remember to factor in your speed.  You may only be travelling at average speeds of  4 -10 knots so, you’ll need plenty of time to manoeuvre against a 20 to 30-knot cargo ship or tanker. A 20-knot cargo ship may cover one nautical mile in 3 minutes. A 30-knot cargo ship may cover one nautical mile in just 2 minutes. It’ll be on you before you know it!

Take action early and make any course or speed change substantial!