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How to Avoid Huge Ships

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You are the owner-captain of a luxury fifty-foot trawler motoring across the bay with your family and a few friends one balmy summer evening. Off in the distance, beyond the bridge spanning the waterway, you can make out the lights and shape of a containership moving down the channel. Have you ever wondered what action you must take to keep clear of that fast-approaching ship? This book will tell you how to do so quickly.Conscientious skippers are wise to read this book and discover if a ship's radar will pick up a small boat at night. It is fascinating to learn what is taking place on the bridge or down in the engine room of one of these leviathans as it heads your way. Can it be stopped before it hits you? Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones by reading this book written for the private boat owner/captain.

112 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1982

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John W. Trimmer

3 books2 followers

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5 stars
44 (66%)
4 stars
10 (15%)
3 stars
5 (7%)
2 stars
4 (6%)
1 star
3 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
Shelved as 'holy-grail-unicorn-tamerlane'
June 3, 2014
this book is 112 pages long.

apart from "look up occasionally while sailing," what do you suppose the other 111 1/2 pages offer as advice?

is why i need this particular book
Profile Image for Dan.
6 reviews2 followers
July 16, 2012
Thank god I was able to find and read this book. Before, I was being blasted by large ships on an almost daily basis. Now, I only get hit by huge ships about once or twice a month. Still having trouble with small ships. The end of this book left on a cliffhanger...maybe how to avoid moving houses next? *crosses fingers*
Profile Image for Dan.
1 review3 followers
August 13, 2012
I was annoyed that after reading the book, I showed up for a 4 day cruise, and the ship wasn't there.
Profile Image for Jan.
74 reviews
December 29, 2014
Okay, I admit it, when I first heard about this book, I chuckled at the title. Of course it's obvious how to avoid huge ships... just don't get in their way. But then I started wondering what could actually be in this neat little volume that would have made a second edition necessary. I started checking local libraries for a copy. I didn't find any, because it's fairly obvious we don't have many (or any) huge ships here in Utah. Curiosity got the better of me and I started looking for a copy at local and online used book stores when I thought to check worldcat (thanks for the pointer, google books). The nearest copy was at a little public library in Idaho. (!)

Now I simply had to read it. I investigated my local library's inter-library loan program. Sure enough, within a week or two I had the book in my hot little hands. I hungrily started reading it, setting aside the other books I already had in progress.

To my surprise, I found myself enthralled! The unexpected insights of Captain Trimmer, combined with his anecdotes and "common sense" instructions were great fun to read. I will definitely take his advice to heart if I ever find myself conning a small boat in heavily trafficked waters. I also found myself thinking of the pilot controlling one of those huge vessels and the difficulties involved.

In all, a very good read and I thank the Kitsap Regional Library system for their participation in the inter-library loan program.
Profile Image for DoctorM.
836 reviews2 followers
Want to read
January 31, 2015
Well, yes--- people laugh about this, and a few will buy it as a joke. But I am a sometime academic, and I'm always angry at people who mock highly specialized books because the title seems hilarious. (I'm especially angry at articles--- usually by right-wingers or "social conservatives" ---that mock titles on micro-history or small-scale social history or the history of marginalized groups) I have no problem with deadpan jokes about the title here--- "How To Avoid Huge Ships" ---but let's make a note. In heavily-trafficked sea lanes where huge container ships and Very Large Crude Carriers sweep past small, often wooden, country ships, it's no joke. Small local vessels may not appear on radar or may simply not be seen in darkness or bad weather. A really large tanker needs miles of sea room to turn or stop, and every year in places like the Persian Gulf or the West African coast numbers of small country ships just...go missing, run down by huge ships, often without even leaving debris. So...not quite a joke.
Profile Image for Richard.
743 reviews9 followers
October 7, 2013
I placed this book on Inter-Library Loan after being unable to resist reading the book so many have posted fake, but humorous reviews for online. So, for once, this is an actual review of the book. At least, it's the best review someone who has never captained a personal boat and certainly has no need to avoid huge ships can provide.

This is a surprisingly entertaining book. Captain Trimmer has a very casual, but distinct voice and sprinkles his text liberally with anecdotes about his own service on huge ships. Most of the stories repeat themselves and the book itself more or less just uses different examples on how to do the same thing.

Captain Trimmer seems to know this himself and ended the book with one of the more entertaining anecdotes describing how a captain he served under liberally used his ship whistle in a crowded Japanese harbor to teach a lesson. The lesson? "That means get the hell out of the way. I'm coming through."

Since the sum of my captaining experience is being in charge of a canoe that was crossing a busy lake and was capsized near shore by an unruly crew member, I can't say this book is for me and my eyes glazed over more often than not on the technical bits. I was surprised about how much of the book I didn't mind reading, however, and even the aspects that are meant for a boat captain were interesting just as trivia or to satisfy my curiosity about ships.

So, overall, How to Avoid Huge Ships isn't half bad and isn't much of a time investment (I read it in about 45 minutes with some pages skipped here and there) if you're curious. So, how do you avoid huge ships? Stay the hell out of their way if you can. I bet they'll appreciate it.
Profile Image for Cormac Healy.
303 reviews3 followers
April 22, 2015
This book really is one of the best huge ship avoidance references I've come across, not just for the effective methods it teaches as to avoiding huge ships, but also for exploding some of the huge ship avoidance myths that many of us take for granted.

For example:
- Do not charge the huge ship at full speed in an attempt to scare it off. This may work with coyotes, but it is less effective with huge ships.
- Similarly, do not roll your boat over and play dead. Unless the huge ship is captained by a grizzly bear, this will not work.
- Do not attempt to go under the huge ship. This is typically not successful.
- Do not attempt to jump over the huge ship.

Captain Trimmer presents a rather novel technique for avoiding huge ships - move your boat out of the path of the huge ship. I know what you're thinking, this goes against conventional wisdom, but Trimmer presents significant empirical evidence to support his theory. Indeed, over the long run, moving out of the way will dramatically decrease the number of huge ship collisions you will have to endure in your daily life
Profile Image for Melanie.
3 reviews4 followers
May 17, 2012
Okay, I haven't actually read this, but I have read the reviews of it on Amazon and they are dam funny.
2,001 reviews47 followers
October 25, 2020
The joke reviews really did this book a disservice. This is a book written from the perspective of a captain who has piloted huge ships, and has witnessed small boats cross into his field of vision. It's a book earnestly written to encourage better seamanship, and is filled with anecdotes of his time as a seaman, focusing particularly on sailing in the US and Panama.

Comments about the mechanics of sailing and the use of wind and current remain timeless. I wish he had spent a bit more time talking about the Colreg (Collision Regulations) in between all his diagrams; I think that would have shed a bit more light on it.

Ultimately though, this is a clearly written and enjoyable book. 5/5 stars
23 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2014
THANK YOU CAPTAIN TRIMMER!!!!! My 95th paddleboard has survived for a record of one week! Those idiots in their big boats always fail to notice me suntanning on my board. Thanks to this book, my daily escapades with death have ended. Now I can suntan in peace while taking a few warning shots at any idiots that dare approach me with the new Laser Cannon Paddle included in Captain Trimmer's book.
Profile Image for Simon.
67 reviews4 followers
May 27, 2009
Indispensable; whether you dwell in the slums of Bombay or in the high rises of New York, this book will be equally useful.
Profile Image for Germanio Puglio.
Author 3 books7 followers
August 31, 2013
I followed his advice and am now soaked and covered in seaweed and my arm is broken. Not only did I not avoid huge ships but the small ones got to me as well. Sorry, this advice does not work, even if he is a ship captain. I can't remember the number for the hospital either and my cell phone is wet.

Profile Image for Alex.
519 reviews22 followers
February 21, 2010
How to Avoid Huge Ships by John W. Trimmer (1993)
December 26, 2013
I live very close to the mediterranean Baltic sea with many large ships and I Think this book has helped me many times.
I have not had any problems with huge ships since I read this book.
Profile Image for Dave Harlow.
3 reviews
February 11, 2015
I don't sail, but I thought this book might be useful anyway. It is - since reading, I haven't been hit by a single huge ship.
Profile Image for Sylvia.
538 reviews46 followers
August 2, 2016
Mostly skimmed. Giggled a lot. I feel much more confident about huge ships now.
August 5, 2021
I featured this book on a "Meme Review" segment of my podcast (Review Party Dot Com), highlighting the unexpected attention it has received, sampling a selection of jokey reviews, then reading it myself and adding my own jokey AND legitimate reviews to the pile. Find them below...

My Meme Review
When the cold air nips, and the north wind whips, and the captain grips with fingertips calloused from his many trips, if the vessel clips through rapid rips, it dips, it tips, yet never flips, when the deckhand’s dog has got the yips, when the first mate fears he’s cashed his chips, the call escapes the captain’s lips.

Through the night, the vessel skips, headed for their distant slips, and there they’ll be if he equips How to Avoid Huge Ships.

This poem has been passed down by my people for generations, but over time we lost sight of its true meaning. We called Captain Trimmer’s book outdated, a text that couldn’t apply to our modern world. We thought the words were just a story, not a warning. How wrong we were.

After 40 days and 40 nights of rains, the world is now the domain of the huge ship.

Flooding waters destroyed the books. All that’s left is the song of Trimmer, and we cling to it as tightly as we cling to our flotsam. In this world renewed, it may be our only hope.

My Real Review
Captain Trimmer is the type of individual who would captivate your entire evening if you happened to bump into him at a party, though he’d likely be able to avoid said bump. And while most of his book won’t apply to most people glancing at its cover, the information contained inside is delivered in such a way that anyone reading even just one passage will walk away brighter with newfound knowledge, and lighter, having heard stories of life – and yes, death – on the water.

So what is there beyond “Get out of the way”? Plenty.

This book offers you new perspectives, both literal – like the different points of view between a ship��s wheelhouse and a private boat’s helm – and figurative – like what is going through a ship pilot’s head in any given moment, why they may or may not turn, how their steering control diminishes when slowing, how weather can blind their radar, and why it’s best for you to move, not them (shipping lanes, depth requirements, creating new collision courses, etc.).

Will I use any of this information? Possibly, possibly not. But it’s a quick and compelling read that will transport your mind away just as easily as any novel. Plus, it may save your life. Not bad for just 99 pages.
January 12, 2022
I read this book all the way through. The writing style was... interesting. However, after I finished, I ran into a huge ship. I have to say, this book was a huge waste of time, as it did not help me avoid huge ships at all.
Profile Image for Gumby.
22 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2022
I feel a camaraderie with the few people on Earth who have actually read this strange and rare book. No ship will come upon me unawares ever again.
Profile Image for Don Helling.
6 reviews
March 29, 2017
I haven't had one negative encounter with a huge ship since reading this book! The last chapter of nothing but silhouettes of huge ships and their names is worth the price alone. Captain Trimmer does a fine job here (check out the Amazon reviews for more).
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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