Ships passing in the night.....
19 January 2012 | Off of Manzanillo
The picture above shows the display on our radar/chart plotter when we had ships coming at us from both directions -- we're the one in the middle with the circle around us (it's a two mile radius that easily shows us how far away things are)
Once we came south along the mainland coast we started seeing lots of cargo ships -- going both north and south. It's always a bit disconcerting to see the lights of a very big ship looking like its heading straight for you. A lot of that worry has been taken away now that in addition to radar which helps you spot the ships and gives you a good idea of where they're heading, we now have AIS that picks up a transmitted signal and gives us all the information we could possibly want : type of vessel and size, destination, heading, speed, time to closest contact and how close it will be. It also gives the vessels name and MMSI number so it is easier to make contact with the ship in question than in years past.
We have called on the VHF to two of the ships we've seen -- when they showed that they would pass relatively close to us -- just to check with them to make sure they were aware of us and what their intentions were (which side they'd pass us. So AIS is definitely on our list of "things that work" and we'd highly recommend it for any boat that will spend any time near shipping lanes (like the Straits of Juan de Fuca back home).
We're still seeing lots of ships today, but they're much less mysterious during daylight when you can actually see them.
We've had a mix of weather today -- the biggest surprise being the 20 knot winds on our nose along with a 3 - 4 foot swell to beat into. The forecast called for much lighter weather, but you get what you get. The biggest worry was that it would slow us down to much so we'd be out an extra day because we need to time things right so we reach Zihautanejo during daylight hours. Only time will tell, but right now we think it looks good to get in late tomorrow afternoon.