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Speed Estimation
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you, steaming a few knots faster than you are, it is safe to estimate that the other ship's speed is about 12 to 15  knots. A readily visible aid in estimating speed is a ship's bow wave and stern wake. A bow wave is the wave of water the bow of a ship makes as it travels through the  water.  As  a  ship  travels  faster,  the  bow  wave becomes   larger   (figure   13).   A   stern   wake   is   the phosphorus trail that a ship leaves as it travels through the water. Unlike the bow wave, it is a calm, white- colored water. As a ship travels fast, the stern wake increases in length; when the ship slows down, the stern wake  decreases. The bridge and CIC do not expect accurate, to-the- exact-knot speed reports from you. However, a good estimate  is  always  valuable  and  can  be  used  as  a Figure 13.—Bow wave and stern wake. 27

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