Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal, West Coast
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor
I think it's ludicrous to expect stand-on rights against anything that big, and we've often altered course to 'stay out of their way'.. however I wish that more operators would take the initiative to attempt contact to clarify the nature of an upcoming crossing. Often it became clear in hindsight that our course change was not really necessary.
In 30 plus years of cruising this area it was only last summer that we had our first satisfactory interaction with a tug towing three barges.. we were having a ripping reach in great conditions and had the tug and tow in sight and 'steady' bearing for some time. I tried to radio, and as usual received no response. However Victoria traffic responded to my call, informed me the tug's name and called them on our behalf. Response was immediate and after some observation the skipper came back and said we'd be about a 1/2 mile ahead on cross and that he'd take our stern. That avoided another half hour of 'should we/shouldn't we' as we observed the closing. What always worries me about taking an avoidance maneuver is that the other guy might do the same and leave us in the same situation again.. good reason to make your intentions clear early on if direct communication isn't happening.
Next time I'll contact Traffic first.. I think hailing "Seaspan Comox" is more effective than "Tug towing barges in Georgia Strait eastbound".
Yes, normally if the ship does not maneuver son enough to take avoiding action I will take it but only at the minimum safe distance otherwise I can have the risk of both vessels altering courses and as you say, become again on a collision course much nearer.
When I do not understand what they are doing I call by the radio asking about their intentions. The funniest story was last year where at night a big cruising ship seemed to stay on a collision course for a long time. I did not really understand their course so I call them. It turned out that it was a big cruising ship and they were almost making no way, killing time to arrive at their destination in the morning. That was what was confusing me, I assumed the boat was moving at a cruising speed. They said they were "seeing me" and that I need not to worry and they altered course to pass way ahead of me.
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