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post #1 of Old 07-16-2009 Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Milford, ct
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Rules of the Road Question

I didn't want to hijack the thread "Stand On Boat, was I right and a jerk" so I started a new thread. That being said . . .

Last weekend the admiral and I were coming back after a long downwind slog from Port Jeff into Milford harbor. We were motoring down the channel into the harbor at pretty close to low tide. Depth in the channel at low tide is about 7-9ft and much less than that to either side - we draw 4ft of water.

There's all sorts of traffic coming into and out of the harbor, two sailboats behind us and a small powerboat in front and a parade of power and sailboats heading out. Everyone is under power. The channel is only about 50ft wide (at best).

So much for the background info . . .

The YC Lasers were ending one of their races and most of the pack was a few minutes behind us but one was overtaking us from the Starboard side. They have no motors. The admiral was getting mighty nervous as this particular Laser was spitting distance from our Starboard side running wing & wing, passing us - he was just outside the edge of the channel. The respective courses were such that if he continued at present course and speed, he would intersect us at the bows or just miss us forward.

I was in a quandry because as the overtaken boat, we were stand on, we were in a channel and therefore constrained by draft but we were under power. There wasn't a whole lot of room to move over either as a fairly large powerboat coming out was almost upon us. I figured I would "stand on" as long as it was safe to do so but would throttle down (we were doing the 5mph which is top end for us) when it appeared a collision was imminent. At just the last minute before hitting the throttle (he was less than 10' away), he tacked away from us going from wing/wing to port tack, held this for a minute or so, tacked again to Starboard tack and pulled in front of us in the channel with enough distance to be safe(? - 20') then immediately tacked to port. By this time he was well clear of us but for a bit there it was pretty nerve wracking.

So my question . . . how do the other sailors handle a situation similar to this? I think I did OK and was prepared to shutdown/reverse, etc. to avoid a collision and I know that was the correct thing to do but it DID seem as though the other guy should have known better. I had the distinct immpression he felt he had the right of way as he was under sail. Not the first time I've noticed that these Laser sailors from MYC act either entitled or are willing to get REALLY close to other boats.

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