Cheap as chips app saved two sailors

A yacht delivery skipper caught in fog with a failed AIS system, used a £5.99
smartphone app to avoid collision with a container ship.

Ian Engelbrecht and crew Ibolya Palko were delivering a Jaguar 36
catamaran from Cape Town to Durban, South Africa, a 12-day, 900 mile
passage, when they were caught out in thick fog just four miles from the coast.

Two years ago a French fisherman died when his boat collided with a ferry in thick fog

When their primary AIS system failed they headed in close to shore to
find shallow waters and avoid commercial shipping. But as an extra precaution
Mr Engelbrecht powered up his smart phone and left it running with a homing
device called Boat Beacon to keep a look out.

The device alerted them to a container ship, also close in,
going in the opposite direction at a range of 21 miles giving enough time to
assess the situation and take the necessary avoiding action. However having no
visibility and due to the specific courses involved, they weren’t too sure on
how the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) would be.

This made it difficult to decide on the correct avoiding action to take.
But nevertheless a collision was avoided and the sailor later contacted the company who make
the homing device advising them to add a new feature which would give the
bearing of the CPA.

A spokesman for Boat Beacon manufacturers, Pocket Mariner, said: ‘We are
now adding the new CPA Bearing feature.’