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Thailand: Worrying incidents regarding the actions of Thai fishing boats against yachts - June 2013

By Val Ellis from report by Paul Carne — last modified Oct 14, 2014 02:38 PM
A crusier expresses concerns over the apparent intention of several Thai fishing boats to deliberately ram a cruising yacht.

Published: 2013-05-31 23:00:00
Topics: Piracy Reports 2013
Countries: Thailand

On 4 separate occasions, (approximately once per month) we have had to take serious action to avoid collisions with large Thai fishing boats around Phuket en route to Langkawi. Despite having right of way, boats have gone out of their way to cross our bows VERY close. Even when we have turned away to avoid them they too have turned to remain on a collision course. Despite yelling, signalling and sounding the horn these boats have attempted to deliberately ram us. In the last few days we have heard first hand of 2 foreign boats colliding with such vessels and having to pay damages to them despite the Thai boats being in the wrong.

In our last episode, I discovered that if I appeared on deck with a camera and started videoing the episode the boat immediately turned away. This is a very worrying occurrence for foreign boats travelling in Thailand. I would be grateful if other similar episodes are reported on Noonsite.

Paul Carne
SV Pelican

Comment received 28 June

On our recent trip to Koh Samui via west Malaysia, we had many encounters with Thai fishing boats, whether they were trawling or not. On no occasions were we ever given right of way by any of these vessels. I just assumed they had right of way at all times, and have given them as wide a berth as possible. I didn't notice any times where I changed course that they did the same to keep a collision course,  but at no time did they ever change course to avoid me - even when I had right of way.
Brian Tennant
SV Stella

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Steve King
Steve King says:
Oct 14, 2014 10:42 AM

These all to common incidents of Thai fishing boats crossing the bows of yachts has little to do with "Right of Way' or lack of attention by the fishing vessels crews. It is a deliberate act performed in order to have any unwelcome spirits, demons, unfriendly entities, or just plain bad luck leave the fishing boat and board another vessel, this increasing the fishing boats chances of catching more fish. Supposedly. It is annoying, and often dangerous, but thats Thailand. None of the demons that boarded us from Thai fishing boats crossing our bows seemed to be to bad at all. We are still catching plenty of fish

Almacantar
Almacantar says:
Dec 02, 2013 11:21 AM

Sorry to be a bore or a stickler for the rules, but:

1. No vessel in any situation technically has "right of way". This is a fairly common and actually quite serious misunderstanding of the IRPCS. There are only ever a "give way" and "stand on" vessel. EACH vessel has responsibilities. "Right of way" implies that a vessel which is not the "give way" vessel can maneuver as it sees fit. This is not true, as it would dangerously confuse the situation. The "stand on" vessel is just that, the vessel which is required, unless there are compelling other reasons, to maintain its course and speed. A fishing vessel may argue that it had compelling reasons, which were related to its work, for not maintaining course and speed. In most cases a ruling would go their way.

2. I am really surprised to read, in the first entry and subsequent comment, that the writers appear to think it is a matter of circumstance whether a vessel engaged in fishing is or is not the "stand on" vessel. Vessels engaged in fishing are ALWAYS the stand on vessels, trumped only by the likes of minesweepers and vessels constrained by draft in a channel. The statements here made might possibly explain why fishermen the world over appear to commonly have contempt for Sailing vessels. Too frequently they are captained by people who appear not to have learned the rules!

tcgibb
tcgibb says:
Jul 23, 2013 08:05 AM

Most of these boats are out there fishing. Some boats are individually working the fishing grounds, setting traps and/or dragging nets between boats. Few of them have the interest in avoiding pleasure craft and as such keep doing the work they are out there to do. Yes, best is to assume they are not going to move out of your way, give them a wide berth and yes keep changing course if necessary to avoid any kind of collision. I have had several fishing boats warn me if I was to close to nets they were dragging or advised me if too close to a float whether or not the net was deep or close to the surface.

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