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  #1  
Old 05-28-2008
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Right of Way Question

I am asking this question as a sanity check..

Sunday afternoon we had just crossed the Ches. Bay under sail and entering Eastern Bay for the Wye River when we encountered a 19foot power boat trolling. I had noticed the boat for some time but assumed it would alter course to our aft but when it was within 50 yards and on a course that would most likley result in a collision I became concerned. A quick glance through the binos confirmed that there was only one person on board and she seem pre-occupied with her lines.

When she visually acknowleged me at about 30 yards she just held her hands up and shrugged but would not alter her course.

Not wanting my weekend ruined I fell off my course, she eventually altered hers to my aft and proceeded to flip me off to which I returned the jesture ..

I have been sailing for over 20 years on the bay.. That is a first.

She was not a commercial fisherman so I do not think I was in the wrong.

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You're a sailboat, he's a fishing boat who's fishing, but not trawling (meaning fishing, but not dragging nets along the bottom so as to keep him form altering course, which is my assumption from your question, since you said "trolling" not "trawling").

Take a look at Rule 18, whether inland or international--you were in the right. So your middle finger had the Rules behind it, his didn't.
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Old 05-28-2008
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You had the right of way unless they were anchored. Only commercial fishers have right of way, and only in certain circumstances. GENERALLY speaking (and there are definitely exceptions so I encourage you to look up the complete ruleset), the pecking order from most right of way to least right of way is:

# Overtaken vessel (top priority)

# Vessel not under command

# Vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver

# Vessel constrained by its draft

# Fishing vessel (commercial fishing or trawling but not trolling)

# Sailing vessel (engine not on)

# Power-driven vessel

Recreational fishers are considered no more than a power driven vessel.
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Old 05-28-2008
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You have the right of way, but I always avoid boats that are not moving, or are moving under trolling motors, usually because they are always paying attention to their fishing. The reason I do this is because here they like to cluster around both narrow entrances to the breakwater, and they usually leave space for other boats to make it through, so I give them a little space.
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The COLREGs do not give one vessel "right of way" over another and are clear that the stand on vessel must also take action if the action of the give way vessel alone is not sufficient to prevent a collision (or if the give way vessel takes no action). All the rules, relevant to a situation must be considered before decisions are made, as must the situation and the handling characteristics of the boats involved.
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Old 05-28-2008
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Quote:
The COLREGs do not give one vessel "right of way" over another
That is perfectly correct. They refer to the 'Stand on' vessel and the 'give way' vessel. The ultimate rule is 'don't have a collision.'

However, manners enter into this also. When somebody is fishing, it is probably difficult for him or her to gather in all of the lines to get out of the way of one or more sailboats insistent on maintaining their 'right of way.' This is one of the main gripes you hear from fishermen on why they don't like sailboats.

There's a lot of water out there. If you can avoid them, do so. Why antagonize?

Also, to complete the Labatt's list above, there is one more to be added to the absolute bottom of the list - seaplanes. I had an incident a few years back where one was taking off - and I was concerned about a collision and altered course.

I couldn't find anything in the Colregs about it - but the instructor of the Captain's course I took looked it up - I don't know where - and told me that I had the right of way. I wasn't about to argue with a seaplane though - not wanting a spinning propeller through my genoa.
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and after all the ones labatt listed comes seaplanes. they are dead last in the pecking order
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAK View Post
I am asking this question as a sanity check..

Sunday afternoon we had just crossed the Ches. Bay under sail and entering Eastern Bay for the Wye River when we encountered a 19foot power boat trolling. I had noticed the boat for some time but assumed it would alter course to our aft but when it was within 50 yards and on a course that would most likley result in a collision I became concerned. A quick glance through the binos confirmed that there was only one person on board and she seem pre-occupied with her lines.

When she visually acknowleged me at about 30 yards she just held her hands up and shrugged but would not alter her course.

Not wanting my weekend ruined I fell off my course, she eventually altered hers to my aft and proceeded to flip me off to which I returned the jesture ..

I have been sailing for over 20 years on the bay.. That is a first.

She was not a commercial fisherman so I do not think I was in the wrong.

Comments??

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Old 05-28-2008
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TAK,

I know that spot well, it's a confluence where we often run afoul of obtuse fishing and motorboats. You clearly were the stand-on vessel, but in our experience it doesn't matter and it's just best to plot a course around them if they appear pre-occupied or unwilling to yield.

Next time, keep the moral high ground and leave the obscene gestures to the stinkpots. If you feel the need to reply in some way, maybe just holler "Very classy!" You'll feel better about the entire situation.

P.S. On that latter point, I speak from experience. Once, when I was crewing in a race, we had a converging/collision course with a motor boat that was trolling. We were under spinnaker, and when it appeared they had no plans of altering course, we yelled over to them and asked them to yield (we were stand-on). They refused (claiming they had right of way as an "overtaken vessel"), and given the rate of convergence we were forced to execute a crash tack with spinnaker up to avoid colliding our bows. It was an ugly mess.

While we were sorting that mess out, one particularly loud and bellicose member of our crew gave that fishing boat an earful of obscenities that would make a sailor blush. Even though that motor boat skipper was a bit of a jerk, I always felt bad about this since there was a young kid aboard his fishing boat. Years later I had a similar experience when a coarse crab boat skipper came alongside and swore up a storm of filth at me because our course had "delayed" him. My young kids were all on deck for that one. I merely replied "Thank you very much for that classy language in front of these children." But maybe it was karmic payback??
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Last edited by JohnRPollard; 05-28-2008 at 07:51 PM. Reason: Added P.S.
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Old 05-28-2008
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I think I would have been tempted to alter course to let them cross my bow very close aboard and see how many rod tips and lures I could collect. Usually only have to do it once and they will be a lot more willing to give way the next time.
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