Originally Posted by RobGallagher
Here, in MHO is the kicker regarding the engine running but engaged or not engaged and what that means:
You engine is running, not engaged, you are raising sail.
The asshat is coming at you whilst you are raising sail and refuses to give way.
You call him on the VHF and inform him that you cannot make way, ask him to give way.
You both collide. You are each 50% at fault.
Why? He could have given way and chose not to. You could have engaged the engine and given way but chose not too.
(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner,
master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply
with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required
by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the
(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had
to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances,
including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a
departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.
To be ever more clear, there is no such thing as right or wrong as long as there is no collision. If there is collision, unless you are sleeping, at a dock, in a marina, or moored in a special anchorage, be prepared to take some % of responsibility.
Everything else is just talking points.
Quite true, there is no "right of way into collision" Rule 17(b) makes this crystal clear. But up until that "extremis" situation where you have to bail out despite being "stand-on", one of those vessels is privileged, the other burdened. Let's turn to the raising sail guy with engine in neutral, what is he under the rules? sail? sail and motor? motor only? restricted in ability to maneuver? Not under Command? hard to tell from a distance, especially for non-sailors--hence the rules advise/require lights and day shapes to let someone know, and common sense says use the VHF and a loud hailer for people close whom you want to inform.
How'd mister raising-sail get to where he is, by motor? the one he just took out of gear? I say motorboat. By sail? (let's say jib was up first, hence the headway to have gotten to where he is) then he's a sailboat, and asshat is give-way if he's a powerboat and stand-on if he's a sailboat on starboard tack and not overtaking you. Drifting, no sail up? He's treated like a motorboat then, give way to asshat on your starboard side. Sail half up but still luffing, no headway, no steerage? Then you remain what you were before you hauled on the halyard. (hint: if you're drifting and have means of propulsion but they are not being used, you're still underway and you have to comply with the rules, and the Rules make you have to be SOMETHING, not nothing). Is he legally restricted in ability to maneuver, hence privileged? No way, see the discussion above in this thread. Is he Not under Command? No, he has the means to maneuver.
Asshat is going to have partial fault at least under rule 17 for proceeding into a collision he couldve steered out of regardless of whether he was stand-on, but the above distinctions will determine if you will also have partial fault, or possibly none (and yes, it does happen, not often but it does).
See how simple and easy to discern this is (not!)? That's why courtesy and early indication of what you are going to do (by both vessels) is "the carpet on life's floor". Please roll it out, and thank those who rolled it out for you. And sailors (most of us anyway) seem to be better at this than the remaining boating public, with the exception of commercial mariners.
Sorry to get technical about this--maritime attorney and license holder, and part-time sailing instructor, so i do this for a living, I can't help myself ;-) And no criticism of anyone else's view is intended, except to just say what I think the rules are. And ultimately they are about what you can convince a judge they are, in an individual case. Which tends to be about educating the judge.
Whew! Stop me before I type again...