Fathoms, Feet or Meters?

31st October 2006

Fathoms, Feet or Meters?

Initial Report

Report Text:

Whilst navigating up a river estuary, I was being followed some miles back by a coaster.  All commercial shipping is under pilotage.

I overheard a radio conversation with the port to the effect that the pilot was calling for 5.6m draught in the lock to which he received the reply that there was now 19ft which he accepted. I see this as an accident waiting to happen when there is perhaps some confusion, poor radio transmission or similar.

I have noticed this mix up of units going on in the past and have taken it up with the port management. Using these waters again recently; there is certainly no change.

CHIRP Comment:

Different units of measurement are still in use in different parts of the world and mariners transiting between these areas need to be aware of the change.

As this report illustrates, in some countries, such as the UK, it is quite possible to encounter different units of measurement in the same sentence.

The difference between 6 meters under the keel and 6 fathoms may be the difference between a good and a bad day at the office!

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