Well now that was an interesting read. It seems that an overtaking, motor powered vessel, not maintaing an effective watch and failing to maneuver to avoid a collision is equally guilty as a sailboat that did not maintain an adequate watch and failed to maneuver to avoid a collision. That is like blaming the victim.
It is also interesting to note the different treatment radar receives vs the vhf radio. If you have a radar, you are not required to use it and maintain a watch as you are for a vhf radio. And the rationale was that they are expensive and wear out with use and so must be conserved until needed. Doesn't that same rationale apply to the vhf radio and almost everything else in this world? Doesn't the same rationale apply to navigation lights - i.e. only turn them on when some one is there to see them?
It is also interesting the assumptions the judge made. He even cited his own experience as basis for an assumption, which can be annecdotal at best and prejudicial for sure.
The judges remarks seem to indicate that not maintianing a watch during the day is ok, but not at night. Do you think he really meant to say that?
For what it is worth, I once participated in a briefing of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations preparing him for a "Law of the Sea" convention, and I will assure you that single handed sailing was not one of the topics of discussion but that there was discussion about the legality of ships engaged in national defense to run without navaids (lights, radar, sonar, radio, etc.). Can you even imgine a carrier battle group steaming at 35-45 knots with out active navaids?
And, I'll bet that the Single Handed Sailing Society was not at the convention.
So, I still maintain my suggestion to rig your boat so that you do not run into something, and that you are visible day or night and so that it is apparent that you are not under way and let the chips fall where they may.
It is also important to note that if you do not have an insured expensive boat you will never make it to the court room.
Just some random thoughts after reading the referenced case.