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Old 01-10-2011
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A question regarding nighttime rules of the road

None of my local captains has been able to answer this. Let's assume the wind is blowing from due north, and sailboat A is bearing southwest, and sailboat B, which is due south of Boat A, is bearing northwest. At daytime, given that both boats are on starboard tacks, boat A (the windward boat) is the "give-way" boat. At night, however, Boat B would be looking at Boat A's red port-bow light, and therefore Boat B would be the "give way" boat, right? I assume that since it is unclear at night whether a boat is under sail (or even a sailboat at all), the nav-lights rules supercede daytime sailing rules of the road. But if that is the case, at what time does the changeover occur - Thirty minutes before sunset, after twilight? Or do I have too much rum in me?
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Old 01-10-2011
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From my limited knowledge, I would assume that the lack of steaming light should indicate that it is a sailboat. ie: the windward boat would only see the green bow light. If s/he saw white over green, that would be the same boat under power.
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Old 01-10-2011
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I am not aware in any changes in the rules of the road after dark, other than the requirements to run lights in the first place.
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Old 01-10-2011
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lights are used to identify the type of boat. This is still just a windward/leeward encounter.
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Old 01-10-2011
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Agree. For powerboats, red and green (besides telling you what side of that boat you're seeing) generally signal "stop" and "go" to another powerboat, but for sailboats they just tell you the first part (which side) but not who stops or goes.

That's because Rule 12 (for two sailboats) and rules 14 and 15 (for two powerboats) are fundamentally different--so the meaning of the running lights is going to be different. But it's the rule itself, and not the required lights, which says who is privileged and who is burdened. So with powerboats, if you're "on the right, you're in the right", but with sailboats, not always so..

So day, night, by itself makes no difference in who is "give-way" and who is 'stand-on'.


If your local captains don't know this, they prolly should, or someone's going to run into someone on a clear night despite the best of intentions ;-)

Last edited by nolatom; 01-10-2011 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bacampbe View Post
I am not aware in any changes in the rules of the road after dark, other than the requirements to run lights in the first place.
Small world - my sailing waters are Grapevine Lake (noticed you're on Lake Lewisville). Unfortunately, it seems every sailboat on my waters turns on every light they own like a Christmas tree - steaming, anchor and otherwise. But the absence or presence of a steaming light shouldn't make a difference. For the above scenario, the windward boat A would give way during the daylight under sailing rules, but Boat B would give way under nav light rules. What am I missing?

[In my comment above, I meant that the presence of a steaming light wouldn't make a difference *IF* the red/green nav light ROTR control after dark, but as everyone has helpfully pointed out, standard sailing rules prevail, and CORRECT lights indicate which boats are under sail. Captain Jack, of course I agree the lights must be displayed correctly, but unfortunately that seems to be the exception on my inland waters.]

Last edited by kirkstites; 01-11-2011 at 10:16 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 01-10-2011
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BigZ and nolatom are correct in their interpretation. Nighttime does not affect stand-on / give-way.

This does mean that you will need to use your understanding and experience to determine the tack of the other vessel and who is windward /leeward, if necessary.
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Old 01-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkstites View Post
Small world - my sailing waters are Grapevine Lake (noticed you're on Lake Lewisville). Unfortunately, it seems every sailboat on my waters turns on every light they own like a Christmas tree - steaming, anchor and otherwise. But the absence or presence of a steaming light shouldn't make a difference. For the above scenario, the windward boat A would give way during the daylight under sailing rules, but Boat B would give way under nav light rules. What am I missing?
You are missing the legal requirements to run the correct lights. A sailing vessel will not display a masthead (steaming) light; it makes all the difference.

Sailing vessel:



Note - no masthead light
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Last edited by jackdale; 01-10-2011 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post
Agree. For powerboats, red and green (besides telling you what side of that boat you're seeing) generally signal "stop" and "go" to another powerboat, but for sailboats they just tell you the first part (which side) and not who stops or goes.

That's because Rule 12 (for two sailboats) and rules 14 and 15 (for two powerboats) are fundamentally different--so the meaning of the running lights is going to be different. But it's the rule itself, and not the required lights, which says who is privileged and who is burdened. So with powerboats, if you're "on the right, you're in the right", but with sailboats, not always so..

So day, night, makes no difference in who is "give-way" and who is 'stand-on'.


If your local captains don't know this, they prolly should, or someone's going to run into someone on a clear night ;-)
This would make sense - obviously, the rule can't change R-O-W just because the sun sets. But it does seem a challenge that the type vessel must be identified in the dark by its lights - especially given the sailboats I've noticed that turn on every light they own, as well as the assumption that a power boat is going to recognize the absence of a steaming light on a sailboat means he gives way (regardless). Finally, there's the challenge of determining, in the dark, what tack the other sailboat is on. Somehow in all my night sailing, this has never seemed to be an issue, but obviously I've wondered about it.
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Old 01-10-2011
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Yeah, it is more challenging since the lights don't tell you a boat's exact heading (at least on the sailboats here) , but it underscores the importance of showing the correct lights (particularly the steaming light or absence of one here) and understanding what they mean.

Last edited by nolatom; 01-10-2011 at 05:23 PM.
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