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post #42 of Old 11-01-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
The test is whether or not you are "operating mechanical propulsion". Engine on, you're a power-driven vessel. Doesn't matter what you have hanging from your sticks, or whether or not your transmission is engaged.
Sorry "Captain"; that is incorrect. If the transmission is not engaged, you are a sailing vessel.

Two from the Nautical Institute.


Our understanding is that if the engine is disengaged from and not turning the propeller or other propulsion machinery, then the propelling machinery is not being used. The engine is only acting as a generator to charge the batteries.



Captain Harry Gale BSc (Hons) FNI
Technical Manager
The Nautical Institute, 202 Lambeth Road, London, SE1 7LQ
Dear Mr Dale,

I am not a maritime lawyer, but my interpretation of the Col Regs as a Master Mariner is that for a sailing vessel to become a power driven vessel the propeller must been engaged. Charging the batteries without engaging the transmission would therefore not change the status of sailing.

Best regards

Philip Wake
Chief Executive

The Nautical Institute
202 Lambeth Road
London, SE1 7LQ
From a maritime lawyer


I am not aware of any case that has considered this issue. My own view is that the sailboat would not be a power driven vessel for the purpose of the collision regulations as the propulsion power is the sails and not the engine. The definition of "sailing vessel" actually contemplates this scenario. That definition is " ...any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used". In your scenario the vessel is under sail and the propelling machinery is not being utilized (only the engine is used but, importantly, not the propellers). The sailboat would therefore be a sailing vessel within the meaning of the collision regulations. The sailboat in this scenario is really just running a generator.

I am glad that you have found my site to be of use.

I also called the USCG. They were in agreement with those above.

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