“I’m going to try to come close to the pylon,” said Capt. Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod charter captain and captain’s school instructor for the New England Maritime Academy. “OK, can we pick up the seas, let it gust to 35 miles an hour and then make it rain,” said Capt. Paul Eidman, a charter captain from New Jersey where the Ocean Wind farm is being built off Atlantic City. Capt. Paul Forsberg, owner/operator of the Freeport, New York based Viking party boat fleet, said, “We started to sway as the seas picked up. Those not use to piloting in open ocean actually started to get a little woozy. Piloting a vessel with this simulator is very realistic.”
I wouldn’t recommend trying to come close to a turbine pylon in a wind farm for the fun of it, but the charter captains and fishermen I experienced the Revolution Wind Farm simulator with were all putting the simulator through its paces pushing it to the max. The Revolution wind farm is an 88 turbine wind farm planned to be built 15 to 20 miles off Newport, RI. Ørsted, developer of the wind farm, has developed a simulator to provide mariners with a realistic experience as to how it would be to pilot through a utility scale wind farm.
Participants I attended the simulator session with were accomplished fishers and/or charter captains. The simulator wind farm utilized the preferred Coast Guard approved array with the turbine pylons spaced one nautical mile apart (1.15 statured miles).
The simulator was designed and developed by the U.S. Marine Resources Center (USMRC) in Middletown, RI. The Center is an independent, nonprofit marine operations and maritime research center and education institution. They focus on navigation and operational safety. Vessel captains train there on simulators much the same way airplane pilots use fight simulation to learn and practice flying aircraft. The USMRC was commissioned to build the simulator by Ørsted, windfarm developer and owner of the Block Island Wind Farm, South Fork and Revolution wind farms.
Through the demonstration Ørsted hopes to educate mariners about wind farm arrays and recommended layouts as well as construction, operations and emergency procedures. The simulator also provided mariners with the opportunity to operate vessels in a variety of conditions providing a realistic, first-hand understanding of scale and navigability of operational turbine arrays.
During a follow-up debriefing RISAA member, fishing journalist and expert fishing guide Todd Corayer of Rhode Island said, “The movement at the helm was very realistic, you could actually feel the seas under your feet, then when the rain, high seas, wind and fog came you had to rely on instruments to pilot through the wind farm.”
Participants piloted a 72-foot fishing trawler as well as a 33 foot center console though the wind farm. When piloting the center console (which is more like the vessel I would be piloting in the wind farm) at 40 miles per hour the piloting time between pylons spaced one mile apart was three to four times faster than the trawler. This spacing provided ample room for maneuvering even when captains tried to pilot close to the pylons it took a long time to get close to them.
Even at this faster speed I felt safe and had ample time to navigate with no safety concerns that I was coming too close. In bad weather with high seas and winds you simply slow down, just as you would if in bad weather anywhere. The faster speeds of the simulator did not present challenges for other captains in the simulator room as well.
Another initial concern I had was the ability to navigate within the one mile corridor created by the array. I was pleased to find out that when faced with oncoming vessels including pleasure craft, fishing trawlers even a Coast Guard cutter, spacing between turbines provided ample space for maneuvering, vessel avoidance and safety.
If you fish or navigate offshore you should give the simulator a try. As I found it goes a long way to prepare you, giving you a realistic experience, in a variety of conditions, piloting your way through a windfarm.
If you are interested in getting a feel for what it is like to use the simulator you can screen a short video taken by Capt. Paul Forsberg about his experience using the simulator. Visit https://offshorewfs.com/navigating-an-offshore-wind-farm-video/.
For informaiton about the simulator contact Ross Pearsall, Ørsted fisheries relations manager, at ROSPE@orsted.com. Snug Harbor Marina used tackle sale
Visit www.facebook.com/snug.marina for information on the Snug Harbor Marina "NU-2-U" used tackle sale Saturday, May 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 2, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Some cool items are coming in the door so you won’t want to miss this year’s sale.” Anglers can either get a 100 percent credit toward store purchases from the tackle they sell at the sale, or they can take the cash with Snub Harbor receiving a 20 percent commission. Call 401.783.7766 to reach Snug Harbor. Where’s the bite?
Freshwater. Visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/freshwater-fisheries/troutwaters.php for a complete list of trout stocked ponds in RI. In Massachusetts visit www.mass.gov/freshwater-fishing-information. “At Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside, anglers are still hooking up with trout with a few salmon mixed in, but no reports of Golden Trout being caught there. And, the largemouth bass bite at Slater Park Pond, Pawtucket has been good too with it yielding a 5.25 pound largemouth last week,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “All the South County ponds that have been stocked with are still yielding trout for customers.”
Tautog. Elisa Cahill of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “One of our customers who commercially fishes took a couple of days to get ten fish at the breachways. But, the Laura Ann party boat (25 person capacity, takes singles) had been doing pretty good with tautog and cod south of Block Island.” “Customers are hooking up with keeper tautog off Jamestown and Newport,” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle.
Striped bass. “The fish were very, very small at first but now they are catching good sized school bass at the West Wall (of the Harbor of Refuge),” said Elisa Cahill of Sung Harbor. “Anglers continue to catch small school bass in the Providence River at Sabin Point, with the bite in coves and estuaries still very slow. Maybe this week with warmer weather the fishing will get better. Water temperature was 46 degrees earlier this week at Narragansett. Historical 54 and 55 degrees has been a good spring time striped bass temperature.
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.