I've been enjoying this discourse so far. I don't have much to add because I'm generally with Minnie and think this problem is largely unsolvable, but it is still fun to discuss!
My point that I'd like to bring up is that the US Coast Guard issues permits for races (in the USA). Aren't they being somewhat complicit in "allowing" violations of the COLREGS by permitting a race like the Singlehanded Transpac where they know that keeping a watch will not be possible?
It would be unreasonable to believe that the Coast Guard doesn't know that singlehanders will sleep while underway and yet they choose to permit singlehanded only races along with the crewed ones. Interesting no?
P.S. Jackdale, thanks for the link to the case involving the collision between the sailboat and freighter. I don't think I've ever read a judges opinion on a case before and it was VERY informative to read his rational for his decisions in attributing blame. It was also interesting to hear his deliberations on the issue of requiring the use of RADAR if fitted. I'd heard many people say that you are "required" to use RADAR if you have it aboard but I'd never seen anything real on the issue until now.
I would like to add something:
I think JackDale, Jon, Aaron, ferret, minne, MS CC, etc... have made great contributions here. You want to know what is nice? THat we, all as experienced sailors, can sit down and have a fun discussion about this. We will not agree, of course. So what? I hate it when another very experienced sailor (like Ferret) puts another on ignore (like Jackdale) because we cannot reason through it.
Hey, we are all on the same side here. We just have dissagreements. Hopefully each of us can understand the others viewpoint (not necessarly agree with it) and sit down for a beer one day together. Lets not put a dissagreement between us.
PS I will make everyone here a deal: I know of a boat off of Key West that is abandoned about every two weeks. There is a line hanging off the boat. At the end of the line is a six pack of beer. As long as no one tells a particular poster here, every two weeks we can drink beer that has been abandoned. I think that is fair enough for all of us to maintain civility (at least until he finds out).