Tuesday 13 December 2016

FADs, Fishing Boats and Nets

FADs, fishing boats and fishing nets will be your biggest challenge while sailing in Asian waters. We have sailed around Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Everyday there is another new challenge.

Fishing boats where our first hazard we encountered when sailing from Thursday Island to Tual, Indonesia. About 24 hours out of Tual's coast line we were fronted with an absolute white wall of lights. Approaching cautiously we soon discovered these lights where squid boats. They are massive and they were in their 100's, literally. they spanned the entire horizon. We later found out they mostly are at anchor so very few are actually moving. We did have one large vessel on the move and through the binoculars it was impossible to establish which way he was moving. they do not display any navigational lights what so ever. As it turned out he was anchoring, very close to our moving boat as it turned out.

Fishing boats in these waters while very beautiful, and come in various shapes, sizes and are very colorful are a hazard because most of them do not display lights or shapes as we are use to. None of them until you reach the Port of Klang will display an AIS. They will not move out of your way and at night came be impossible to determine their movements. They also will not respond to radio calls on the VHF.

Fish Attracting Devices (as first pictured above) are called FADs. They are everywhere and they come in various shapes and sizes. Very few are lite. Some if your lucky have flags on them. most do not. They vary in size and shape but all do the same thing. They are weighted/anchored to the ocean floor, some do float but are still weighted and the purpose is to attract fish. They work very well and its all very ingenious but they are dreadful hazards. Keep a good eye out.

Very hard to judge what it is.
Fishing nets are scary. They are everywhere. Usually you will see a little boat and a flag at the end of his net line, but not always. Some nets are massive and spanning miles. Some nets are drifting and seem to have no end to find. Some nets are laying very low in the water, so low you can drift over them but its impossible to know depth. And some nets are seen with a drum at each end, but again not aways. Be very careful of these nets and if your snagged do not jump in at night, you may get tangled in the mess. Drop your anchor, and wait for day light.

We managed to snag these two water containers with hard core twine joining them.
Its also worth noting here tugs. Most tugs also do not display lights (if they do they are very weak) on either their tug or tow, no AIS and will not respond to radio calls on VHF. The ones around Indonesian waters are just scary. They are huge and impossible to detect at night. The distance between tug and tow can be seriously wide. Keep a keen eye out for these hazards.

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