Ports ‘o Close Call

I went whalewatching today out of Spirit Cruises at Ports o’ Call. Captain Tim did a great job of searching for whales, and even kept the boat out an extra half hour to make sure that the group of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from Ontario got to see a pair.

As we headed back into the harbor we were alongside a large cargo ship (well, not the largest, this one can just squeak through the Panama Canal) to our starboard and a small sailboat regatta to our port.

As we passed the regatta and headed towards our slip the cargo ship blasted his horn five times. That’s the international sign for “I’m not altering course, get outta my way” but that didn’t seem to phase the small sailboat the was heading right into his path.


What the sailboat forgot is that a cargo ship can be a pretty huge windbreak. So sure, if the wind kept up, the sailboat would have had no trouble passing well in front of the ship.

But once in the shadow of the ship, the little boat lost its wind and came to a standstill. And everyone in the harbor stopped to watch as the little sailboat turned as best it could (a full 270 to catch some modicum of wind to get it the hell out of the way.


Well, at least the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts didn’t get to earn their emergency at sea patch. (Today, however, they did earn a “high adventure” patch.)

One thought on “Ports ‘o Close Call”

  1. The width of that vessel is refered to as “panamax” and is about 13 shipping containers wide (106 feet), FYI.

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