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post #18 of Old 06-29-2007
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You are certainly taking a good approach as long as you make your actions to avoid collision "early and substantial". The 'stand-on" vessel, previously referred to as the "privelaged" vessel, has the responsibility to, if risk of collision is deemed present to make her actions early, substantial, and of a nature that her intensions cannot be mistaken.

Why is this important?
The problem arises when vessels get in close proximity to one another. The stand-on vessel is, in essence, required to maintain course and speed until such time as collision cannot be avoided by the actions of the give-way vessel alone. Relatively recent rulings have held that things do not have to reach that point, but yet, remain unclear as to what the exact point is that resides just this side of "in extremis". This is a very scary situation and, unfortunately, not rare. The best advise, if such a situation may be seen to be developing, is to take the early, substantial, and unmistakable action. btw, I am primarily referring to crossing situations here. Most practically, that action involves an alteration of course to starboard. Alterations of course to port should, in general, be avoided unless the distance off is large. The alteration of course to starboard may, in fact, turn in to a "round turn" in that, based on the other vessel's late actions you may be forced into continuing your course alteration to starboard, doing a complete 360 degree turn, and passing under the other vessel's stern.

If you hold course until such time as you deem yourself "in extremis" and must take action, your only action can be a turn to starboard. If you alter to port, while close aboard, and the other vessel, finally, alters course to starboard, as she is required to do, you may collide and the fault will be assigned to you. The legal-beagle theory behind this is two-fold. The first part, and most baffling, is that "risk of collision" does not exist if no collision results. This is known as the miss is as good as a mile interpretation. The second, tied closely to the first, is that, by altering course to starboard, admittedly at the last minute, the give-way vessel's defense that he had a decent reason to delay course alteration until he did is irrefutable. Even though you are wetting your pants, his defense that he still had room to alter slightly to starboard, passing harmlessly under your stern, admittedly closely under your stern, will stand up in any court. Your alteration of course, to port, will be held as the proximate cause of collision.

Of course, the best way to avoid dealing with the complexities of Admiralty is to take "early, substantial, and unmistakeable" actions before you become "in extremis".

“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.

Last edited by sailaway21; 06-29-2007 at 02:21 AM.
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