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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

Not to go deeper into the weeds on the "vessel under power/command" issue. However, prior to the incident in the OP (this was an eventful day), we were clipping along close hauled. I had a novice sailor at the helm. We were headed toward a spectator sailboat in the distance, sitting by itself without sails or anchor. I noticed my guy doing the classic rookie move of heading up to avoid the obstacle, without trimming the sails (or in this case, tacking). I told him he had to maintain course, as he was "taking his foot off the gas" and giving up momentum by heading up, possibly disabling us from taking evasive action (in this case, tacking) should the give way boat not move. He asked, "Well, what if the other boat is disabled?"(a moot point, as we simply would have pinched up or tacked). I replied: "If he's disabled, he better start waving his arms or something other than sipping on that beer in his hand!"
Point being, given engine failure, you may not have time to hoist day signals (and I'm certainly not hoisting the only "balls" on my boat, wrong color anyway!), but I expect some signal that things are not normal, and that the regular rules do not apply.
In addition, it always amuses me when inexperienced helmsmen change course to avoid an obstacle (often very early) without mentioning it, or trimming, as if they were driving a car. I've had this conversation with this guy before, and he's no dummy. Sometimes I'm not sure they realize they are doing it!
Do other skippers notice this? If so, how do you convey to novices that a sailboat needs way on to maneuver around an obstical?

Last edited by L124C; 10-10-2012 at 06:37 PM.
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