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Old 09-05-2007
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Exclamation port tack and other stand-on concerns.

I've been sailing for the past 15 years and several more as a kid in sailing programs, I have my basic keelboat certification, and have taken several weeklong classes. I have been on Hobie Cats alot, but for the past 3 years I have owned a Hunter 25 which I keep in Newport, RI. When it's busy out on the bay I get really concerned when I'm sailing on a Port Tack and I start approaching a boat on starboard tack. I never know if I should try to proceed to cross their bow or let them pass, but if I was to head up wind to high to go behind them I would stall my boat and go into irons. Is there something I should be doing or looking for to help me understand how to pass a boat that has the right of way?
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Old 09-05-2007
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It sounds like you're primarily talking about a port tack/starboard tack scenario. There are a few things we usually do. First, if you think you can make it in front of another boat, don't cut it too close (unless you're racing, in which case go for it). The wind can die and put you in a pretty bad place. Just be ready to quickly tack over if a worse case scenario shows itself. We'll usually do the following sequence:

1) Hold our course until we're fairly close and it's obvious whether we'll make it our not.

2) Head down and cross their stern. You won't lose speed but you'll have to adjust your sails accordingly -or-

3) Pinch (head up until just before your sails start luffing). This will slow you down substantially. Let them pass, then head back down and pick up speed.

In either case, "wag your bow" heavily in the direction you are planning on going so the other boat knows your intentions.

Keep in mind that, ultimately, it's your responsibility to make sure that
you don't collide. In other words, even if you have the right of way but could have avoided the collision, a collision could potentially be considered your responsibility.
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When in doubt come about. Tack or ease the main sheet and pass aft. In the bay I use the trees in the background to determine if I am "making trees", going faster than the other boat and will pass safely in front. Offshore I use a bearing compass to determine if the bearing is remaining constant and need to pass aft.
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Old 09-05-2007
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Using a part of the boat to determine if the other boat will pass foward or aft of you is always a good idea... If the other boat stays in the same relative position to the stays or stanchions on your boat, you're on a collision course. If they move forward relative to the stanchions or shrouds, they'll pass forward of you... if they drop behind the stanchions or shrouds, they'll pass behind you.
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Old 09-06-2007
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port tack and other stand-on concerns

Thanks for the responses. I am assuming "making trees" refers to whether or
not there is more or less "trees or "space" between me and the other boat?
Also I need to get over the fear of the the other boat slightly altering their course and me not being able to adjust due to other boats or traffic and being in a fend off situation- maybe I need more alone time at the helm?
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Old 09-06-2007
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The basic idea is to watch whether stationary objects on land are moving ahead or behind in relation to the other boat. If you are trying to pass ahead of the other boat and objects on shore are moving ahead relative to it then you are "ranging positive" and you will be passing ahead of the other boat. If the objects are moving behind relative to the other boat, then you are steering a course that will put you behind the other boat. (ranging negative).

A variation on the "ranging" idea is the concept of "making trees." This is sailing slang for going faster than a competitor, catching up or passing. "Making trees" comes from watching the trees on the shore in relation to the other boat. If he is slipping back and more and more trees appear in front of him you are going faster than he is in relation to the shore. You are "making trees." Conversly, if more trees are appearing behind him, then you are probably slipping behind, and he is "making trees" on you.

Last edited by CapnHand; 09-06-2007 at 08:26 AM.
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If your in a body of water with a very fast current, sometimes "making trees" is the only way you can tell your really moving.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYER6464 View Post
... I get really concerned when I'm sailing on a Port Tack and I start approaching a boat on starboard tack. I never know if I should try to proceed to cross their bow or let them pass, but if I was to head up wind to high to go behind them ...
Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine yet this morning, but ISTM if you're on a port tack and the other boat's on a starboard tack, and you're approaching one another, he must be on your starboard. To pass under him, you'd bear off, not head up.

Jim
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Old 09-06-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine yet this morning, but ISTM if you're on a port tack and the other boat's on a starboard tack, and you're approaching one another, he must be on your starboard. To pass under him, you'd bear off, not head up.

Jim
Thanks Jim,
I thought I was the only one thinking the same thing.
Why would you head up?
Fall off and take his stern.
Been sailing for a while and still learning; thats the first time I have ever heard the phrase "Making Trees". Maybe cause we don't have many trees in our area.
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SEMIJim-

It depends if you're going upwind or downwind... to pass behind him going downwind, you'd head up... if you're both going upwind, you'd bear off.
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