Posted by: Craig | April 29, 2008

Arriving in the Solent

4am the Nab Tower, one of the old forts in the approaches to the Solent, awaiting the pilot, Southampton VTS calls to tell Fidelio not to pass further north of there until the pilot is onboard, VTS also co-ordinating with other vessels when their pilots will board. AIS picks up the pilot launch without any trouble.

Once on board, the pilot has a quick familiarisation and happy with everything, settles into one of the cockpit chairs for the journey around the Isle of Wight. He asks for three red lights to be shown and says the channel is ours for the journey up, only one container ship coming out of Southampton and we will pass it at Fawley.

The continual buzz of alarms, from the integrated bridge system, add distractions. “Wonders of modern science,” said the pilot. “All this automation and you have to stand there with your finger on the button the whole time.”

“It would be good to have the option to choose the level of alarm conditions so that I could concentrate on the navigation,” is Captain Falkenberg’s point of view.

Unlike other ports, the pilot had no AIS plug and play, but said he likes the bridge layout, and the integrated systems despite the continual alarms, better than twenty years ago. “Had a Japanese built vessel recently, new build, but the bridge layout was twenty years old. Terrible, had to march across the bridge from bit of gear to bit of gear”.

Captin Falkenberg observes the benefits of new synchronised lighting on the approach buoyage in Göteborg, compared to the standard IALA buoyage system here in the Solent

“It’s easy to follow the track of the flashing lights up a channel and see where it is, rather than have to identify individual lights like this.”

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