Originally Posted by svzephyr44
The key question here is was either vessel "Not Under Command." If so the other boat is burdened and required to keep clear. In order to be Not Under Command your vessel has to be unable to maneuver (Rule 3.) You clearly were able to maneuver since by your own admission you put the boat in gear and avoided a collision. Your sails were down so you were clearly in the category of a motor vessel according to the rules. So now the question becomes was he NUC? Most likely not. The fact that you were both drifting has nothing to do with the rules. Without being exactly clear relative position of the two boats I can't speak for who was burdened. Now you violated Rule 8 which requires you to take prompt action to avoid a collision (since you almost hit you waited too long.) But the real key is Rule 17. Rule 17 says (paraphrasing) that it doesn't matter who has "rights" in the final analysis even the "Stand on" vessel must take action to avoid the collision. My guess, not being a maritime lawyer is that a court would find both boats liable and apportion costs under that basis.
The proper action would be to have unfurled your jib! (LOL)
You may 'think' youre not under command, your boat may actually be behaving as one 'not under command'; but, unless you have two red balls or two red lights aloft ... you're simply NOT 'not under command'.
In most such venues where boats are apparently drifting, the one with the current from behind/astern is the usual one that is considered 'privileged' ... but as a courtesy
only and when not under Mississippi River or other 'inland river' Rules.