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Sail clear of these three dangerous wreck symbols!

by John Jamieson on 29 Mar 2013
Three wreck symbols .. .
Look at most any nautical chart and you will find symbols that signify dangerous wrecks. Here are three wreck symbols to get you started on the road to navigation safety wherever you sail.

1. Wreck Not Dangerous to Surface Navigation--but Still a Danger!
This symbol shows a wreck that has been determined not to be dangerous to surface navigation at all stages of the tide (high water and low water). Note that this wreck symbol has not been surrounded by dots.

You can plot a course over this charted wreck symbol and be confident that your keel, rudder, or propeller shaft will not be damaged. So why do cartographers (chart-makers) bother to put these onto your chart?

For the sailor, you would not want to anchor anywhere near a non-dangerous wreck symbol. If your anchor dragged just the slightest distance, it could become fouled (snagged or caught) on the wreckage or pieces of the wreckage. Wrecks tend to shift position, so it's best to stay well clear.

On the commercial side, fishing vessels that use bottom nets want to know where these wrecks are to avoid the possibility of snagging their nets as they trawl along the bottom. That could end up costing them thousands in repair or replacement costs.

2. Dangerous (Sunken) Wreck Hazardous to Surface Navigation:
This symbol shows a wreck that has been determined to be dangerous to surface navigation at all stages of the tide (high water and low water). You can tell this because the fishbone symbol has been surrounded by dots.

Charted symbols surrounded by dots ramp up the level of danger to your boat. Plot your course to keep clear of these underwater 'boat back-bone breakers'!

3. Wreck Showing Any Portion of Hull or Superstructure:

This symbol looks like part of a ship or boat that sticks out of the water at all stages of the tide (high water and low water). The half-hull wreck symbol tells you that at all stages of the tide, some portion of the hull or superstructure will be visible.

But beware...

At higher high tides, there may be just the slightest bit of wreckage above water. And it could be obscured by waves or low visibility conditions (or darkness). These dangerous wrecks have their positions indicated by the small white open circle (note the circle at the base of the charted symbol). Avoid these monster hazards like the plague to prevent serious damage or injury.

Know the common chart navigation symbols like these used on nautical charts and plotters throughout the sailing world. Sail clear of these dangers to keep your sailing crew and sailing boat safer this coming sailing season--wherever in the world you choose to sail or cruise!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!
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