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  #21  
Old 05-16-2008
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I agree with JohnRPollard. Rule 5 is probably the most important of any of the COLREGS, imho. If you keep a proper lookout, and communicate by whistle, flashing light, or radio, then you'll actually communicate with the other vessel who *may* present a close-quarters situation in the next few minutes, and will figure out how to make it into a safe passage.

If you choose to sail shorthanded (whether singlehanded, which by definition means you're not keeping ANY lookout at least a third of the time, or double, where the lookouts are physically present on deck but are exhausted and ineffective for much of that time), then you're knowingly violating Rule 5. If you're "not under command" because you have insufficient crew to comply with Rule 5, then I think you have to live with the consequences. You took a calculated risk, and got away with it (meaning we don't see you in court) or you didn't, in which case we do.

Showing NUC lights may lighten your burden a little (or not, depending on the lawyers and the judge), but I have always thought that the right to show red over red was dependent on mechanical factors you couldn't predict, not on manning factors which you should've realized before you cast off.
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  #22  
Old 05-16-2008
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Originally Posted by Idiens View Post
Sway - I'm glad your not in government, otherwise we might have to abandon boating.

In the mean time, avoid collisions.
Actually you'd probably not mind me at all in government as I'd change the laws not a wit. Given my belief that we have more than enough government already, I'd probably just spend my time sailing until the electorate found out and either threw me out or agreed that my do nothing policy was a good one. (g) And, of course, I'd have to take my sailnet constituents sailing with me as an integral part of my duties of office. (a vbg)

The underlying theme in this discussion is one where those who solo sail or desire to do so wish to have us and the law give them the imprimatur of acting safely. Since they are, in fact, not acting safely that imprimatur will not be forthcoming. I'm not at all in favor of arresting solo sailors or even solo sailors that must be rescued or are involved in a collision. But I am not either going to say that the law should not apply to them just for their own selfish wishes. You cause a collision because you're not keeping a proper lookout, regardless of your excuse of exhaustion, you're going to be found liable at Admiralty.

Some of the opinions expressed reveal a lack of knowledge of Admiralty and the nature of marine insurance. If you have a collision or an allision you'd best hope that you have a rider on your marine insurance policy for solo sailing. Your vessel is unseaworthy by definition and unseaworthiness is a reason for loss of coverage in marine insurance. Unseaworthiness is also a cause for action against the vessel, her owners, and her Master in courts of Admiralty.

You are just as responsible as the Master of that supertanker out there for the operation of your boat. If your actions, be they exhaustion or failure to keep a proper lookout, cause another vessel to, say, take such action to avoid collision and loss of life that results in that vessel perhaps grounding or sustaining other damage to herself or the environment, you are going to be held culpable. Your, I'm just a little boat defense will go nowhere. The fact that your exhaustion made the vessel "unmanned" is evidence of not only unseaworthiness but means that you assumed responsibility for any incidents the minute you decided to leave port knowing the potential consequences. You are required to exercise prudent judgement in manning your vessel. That's what got Exxon in trouble in the Valdez incident; even though the Coast Guard approved their manning that is not prima facie evidence of adequate manning. The instant that the exhaustion of the three mates on that ship became an issue Exxon was culpable for unseaworthiness. And Exxon knew the manning was inadequate. How many solo sailors are going to stand up for Exxon's reduced manning policies?

Do the advocates of special lighting for solo sailing and evasion of responsibility think that their concerns are either new or have never been discussed? Of course they have and that is why the Rules are what they are. And btw, just as a practical matter, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do something or that we should all commend your decision to do so. Unwillingness to acknowledge the responsibility for one's actions is immature at the least.
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  #23  
Old 05-16-2008
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Originally Posted by JimHawkins View Post
This is a bit vague. The prevailing circumstances of a solo sailor include that there's only one person on board, and after some period of time he will be very tired. But of course I'm interpreting this literally, and the courts will interpret it as they choose.



Modern electronics may allow the sleeping solo sailor to claim he discovered the other vessel as soon as any lookout would have discovered her.
Rule 7 of the Colregs makes it unlikely that the presence of such electronics would absolve responsibility. Merchant ships with far better electronics are still required to keep a dedicated lookout in the bows unless sea conditions make the bows hazardous and then he's placed on the bridge wing. These cases have already been tried, in the earliest days of radar, and they all went against the vessel claiming that the presence of radar superceded the need for an independant lookout. You'll find no better result at Admiralty with an electronics defense than you will with a tired/exhausted defense.
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  #24  
Old 05-16-2008
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Would it be legal while you are single handing a sailboat across the sea, and you need your sleep, to display the Red over Red all around lights for 'Not Under Command' while you are sleeping?
Also while you are sleeping you are violating Rule 5 (lookout), so would displaying the "Not Under Command Lights" cover you here also?
When you are offshore there is no such thing as law. There IS convention, but when you are in international waters and on your own vessel you can do whatever the heck you want to. It's pretty well the only place left on earth that you can do this.

So get out there and live on the edge ! Fly two, three, four - as many red lights as you want. Hell - hoist a disco ball and jump up and down on deck in a bunny suit if you feel like it. ! Worry about the have-to's and should have dones when you are within 200 miles of some sovereign nation, but not before.
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Old 05-16-2008
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So, to those of you that favor "Not under command" it is going to be OK with you when this guy/girl in their 30,000 pound monohull T-Bones You when they are exhausted? All you have to do is look and make sure that they are flying the correct signal, and if so you should be happy as you sink, and the boat ( with the exhasted sailor) continues on its way? 30,000 pounds remember. Who really gives a damn what they are showing when they sink you? Why would we not ALL fly that signal....then we would never be at fault.
Wait a minute. I have a rule that I don't drink (much) when I sail. If I fly the correct signal will the police recognize that I knew I was drunk and therefore not responsible for my actions? You may be on to something.

You are the captain. You are responsible? Take what risks you want, but at the end of the day YOU are the captain!

Last edited by tommyt; 05-16-2008 at 10:15 PM.
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  #26  
Old 05-17-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
Rule 7 of the Colregs makes it unlikely that the presence of such electronics would absolve responsibility. Merchant ships with far better electronics are still required to keep a dedicated lookout in the bows unless sea conditions make the bows hazardous and then he's placed on the bridge wing. These cases have already been tried, in the earliest days of radar, and they all went against the vessel claiming that the presence of radar superceded the need for an independant lookout. You'll find no better result at Admiralty with an electronics defense than you will with a tired/exhausted defense.

Sure it does. You were just tending to ships duties down below including closely monitoring your electronic navigation equipment when the collision occurred... Hard to argue that one person can be on deck and at the nav station at the same time, and according to the rules you need to use 'all available means' which necessitates visiting the nav station from time to time. You have ports you can look out right? But seriously.. if we are talking about accidents at sea there probably isn't going to be a day in court because you will sunk and dead, possible without the ship even noticing. Near shore you should not be sleeping no matter what anyway. Offshore you have the right of way as a sailing vessel regardless if you are violating rule 5 or not. Seems like moot points in the overall scheme of things. How many solo sailors end up in the world commerce courts for violating rule 5 resulting in damages? Its probably happened, but I haven't heard of it. Would be interested to hear of any real court cases.

Here is a investigation report of a sailing vessel (crew probably sleeping) that collided with a ship: Maersk Dunedin Collision report

Apparently this case, which resulted in damages to both vessels did not constitute a 'reportable incident' whatever that is.

Last edited by sailboy21; 05-17-2008 at 12:32 AM.
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  #27  
Old 05-17-2008
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I think the original post's replies have now gotten way out of context.

If you are anchored, then you show at minimum anchor lights. PERIOD.

Personally - I have those and everything else that can allow a ship / vessel to do positioning on me and to do range calculations.

It really is that simple. If anchored show anchor lights, and if a more trafficked area, if you have other lights that aide oncoming vessels in determining where you are - such as port / starboard and stern light...as well as lights in cabin... You have done what you need to do...

Sometimes this stuff gets way out of context. I anchor out off major channels all the time with patrols going around me every hour... Make it easy for every one else, play within the rules and no one gets hurt - no special circumstances for you being a sailboat needs to be created or addressed.

Really - it is that simple...
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  #28  
Old 05-17-2008
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IIRC, the technical definition of anchored, at least in maritime usage, is To temporarily secure a ship to the seabed by lowering a hook or weight which takes hold of the bottom.:
around here, we call that fishing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailboy21 View Post
Sure it does. You were just tending to ships duties down below including closely monitoring your electronic navigation equipment when the collision occurred... Hard to argue that one person can be on deck and at the nav station at the same time, and according to the rules you need to use 'all available means' which necessitates visiting the nav station from time to time. You have ports you can look out right? But seriously.. if we are talking about accidents at sea there probably isn't going to be a day in court because you will sunk and dead, possible without the ship even noticing. Near shore you should not be sleeping no matter what anyway. Offshore you have the right of way as a sailing vessel regardless if you are violating rule 5 or not. Seems like moot points in the overall scheme of things. How many solo sailors end up in the world commerce courts for violating rule 5 resulting in damages? Its probably happened, but I haven't heard of it. Would be interested to hear of any real court cases.

Here is a investigation report of a sailing vessel (crew probably sleeping) that collided with a ship: Maersk Dunedin Collision report

Apparently this case, which resulted in damages to both vessels did not constitute a 'reportable incident' whatever that is.
Sailboy,
If you read my post six which is primarily a quote from Farwell's Rules of the Nautical Road you'll see that there are no ship's duties, not even navigation, that supercede the requirement for a lookout.

The collision cited was not between US vessels nor in US waters and is thus not a reportable incident as far as US Coast Guard goes. It's generally a matter of course to report any incidents upon the high seas at the next port of call. Had the Maersk Dunedin suffered any significant damage I'm sure we'd know rather a bit more about the origins of the Schooner Anne's documentation, if any, and I imagine that a case would have been filed in Denmark or the Hague. The ownership of the yacht, if proven to be US, could result in the case in US federal court. The USCG finding is not the final say on the matter, it is a report of lack of jurisdiction.

You are only partially correct in your assumption about right of way of the sailing vessel. (There is actually no such thing as right of way.) Even if the sailing vessel was the stand-on, or privileged, vessel she had a duty to act to avoid collision that was apparently not met. More importantly, as emphasized by Farwell, Admiralty is often about the assignation of contributory negligencies. Failure to maintain a lookout would be considered contributory negligence regardless of the sailboat's standing under the Rules.

From, The Kaga Maru (Wash 1927) 18 F (2d) 295,

"The strict performance of a vessel's duty to maintain proper lookout is required and failure to do so, especially when other craft are known to be in the vicinity, is culpable negligence".


From Farwell, citing The Tillicum (Wash 1914) 217 F 976,
"A lookout has been defined by the federal court as a person who is specially charged with the duty of observing the lights, sounds, echoes, or any obstruction to navigation with that thoroughness which the circumstances permit. The words specially charged imply that such person shall have no other duties which detract in any way from the keeping of a proper lookout. Thus it has been held in numerous cases that because the lookout must devote his attention to this duty, the officer of the deck or the helmsman cannot properly serve as lookout." (with further citing of Kagu Maru as well as The Donau (Wash 1931) 49 F (2d) 799)

In The Twenty-One Friends, (PA 1887) 33 190 it was held that a seaman dividing his attention between reefing a sail and looking out was held to not constitute a vigilant lookout. In The Fannie Hayden, (Me 1905) 137 F 280 it was held that the only two seamen on deck at the time, who were taking down sail, did neither constitute a proper lookout and the schooner was held liable for colliding with another schooner having right of way.

The advent of radar produced a slew of cases in which it was alleged that the radar was an adequate substitute for a lookout. Countless court decisions have rejected that idea going so far as to say that either monitoring of the radar or performing other navigational duties in itself disqualifies the person as a proper lookout. Radar is viewed as an adjunct to the keeping of a proper lookout by the vessel.
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  #30  
Old 05-17-2008
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Now I know I posted a question that has an excellent response.
One other thing; I've read that some solo sailors have turned on their radar guard ring set for what ever miles they feel comfortable with. Now when something crosses the guard ring the alarm goes off and this is suppose to wake or alert them. Now for myself, when I'm exhausted, I don't even hear the alarm clock or the turned up loud radio when it kicks off at the set time.
So as much as I want, desire, and dream of single handing a boat, there is that factor, that once applied to reality means that I should have a crew of about one or more other people and stand set watches. Single hand on the watch. But there would be a wide awake person on deck at all times. Unless they are down in the head letting out bureaucratic rules and regulations.
Ocean traffic three to four decades ago wasn't that bad. But with the increase in the global economy the intercontinental trade has increased the ocean traffic about ten fold.(my estimate)
So does that bring on the next question: Are the days of Ocean solo racing and cruising nearing the end? Should the those boats be crewed by couples?
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Last edited by Boasun; 05-17-2008 at 09:24 AM.
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