I would love to see something official that clarifies "always in effect, but doesn't make much difference"
The rules don't come into effect unless their is risk of collision.
If I am sailing in the Long island sound and you are sailing off the coast of Australia the rules mean nothing.
If I see a big ship a couple miles off and see that their is no risk of collision but that their might be in 10 minutes it is both prudent and courteous for me to make an early and significant course change so the ship can see that I am not now nor will in the future be a threat.
You are under no obligation to hold course unless their is risk of collision. 99.99 percent of times you change your course long before their is a risk.
I was going about 3 knots heading north getting near the tappenz bridge in the east river.
A container ship was behind me doing about 6 knots.
I did a 90 port to the far side of the channel, then two more 90's to port to come in behind him.
There was no way I was going to let him pass me under the bridge and blow me onto the bridge supports.
We get it into our heads that we are going in a specific direction. It doesn't usually matter. If a 180 degree turn for 5 minutes will change the dynamics so it is completely safe that is what I'm going to do, even if it looks a little stupid, I don't care.
If they want to hit me they have to catch me first.