Rules of the Road: Precedence? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-12-2007 Thread Starter
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Question Rules of the Road: Precedence?

So I got to thinking while on my post-lunch walk today (again)...

In math and computer programming we have the concept of "operator precedence." An example that we all learned probably as far back as grade school: "multiplication and divsion before addition and subtraction." E.g.: 2 + 2 * 4 is 10, not 16.

In sailing, we have the "Rules of the Road." From the book Sailing Fundamentals:
  • A boat on a port tack must give way to one on a starboard tack
  • A boat to windward must give way to leeward boat on the same tack
  • A boat that's overtaking must give way to a boat ahead
  • A boat coming about of gybing shall give way to a boat on tack
  • If one boat is running and the other close hauled and they're on the same tack, the running boat must give way
The question is: What is the precedence? E.g.: The rules say a boat on a port tack must give way to one on a starboard tack. But what if the boat on the starboard tack is overtaking the boat on the port tack? A running boat must give way to the close hauled boat, but what if the close hauled boat is on the windward side?

N.B.: I realize there is no absolute "right of way," and that every skipper is obliged to avoid a collision, even if their boat is the stand on boat.

Yeah, I'm probably over-thinking this (Or missing some really obvious things.)

Last edited by SEMIJim; 06-13-2007 at 12:31 PM.
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-12-2007
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Overtaking boats always have to stay clear of boats being overtaken regardless of the tack. This would also apply in the case of a sailboat passing a slow powerboat.

Generally, IMHO, a running boat must give way to a close-hauled boat regardless, since the close-hauled boat is much more limited in the changes in course it can safely make. A boat sailing close-hauled can only turn downwind, or risk going into irons.

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-12-2007
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yea, what he said...Chapman agrees..
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post #4 of 24 Old 06-12-2007
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"A running boat must give way to the close hauled boat, but what if the close hauled boat is on the windward side?"

I think you may be over thinking this one. The only way that is possible is if they have already passed.

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post #5 of 24 Old 06-12-2007
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First, Starboard over Port

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
......Generally, IMHO, a running boat must give way to a close-hauled boat regardless, since the close-hauled boat is much more limited in the changes in course it can safely make. A boat sailing close-hauled can only turn downwind, or risk going into irons.
SD, your humble opinion may cause a little trouble if you are beating on a port tack and find yourself on a collision course with a boat running on starboard. That skipper is likely to expect you to give way per 12 (a) i. Rule 11 / 12: Application / Sailing Vessels and if you don't, you'll at least garner a nasty grimace for your failure, assuming the other skipper is paying attention. If he isn't, then it caould be ugly and not a situation you would want to explain to your insurance agent.
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post #6 of 24 Old 06-13-2007
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Definitely starboard over port first, as SF indicates. Any time a running boat is on a converging course with a beating boat, if they are on the same tack the running boat is burdened by being the windward vessel, if on opposite tacks, starboard prevails.

If a running boat on starboard is converging and overtaking another running boat on port, the port tack boat is obligated to get out of the way.

These are racing rules, casual sailors will not normally press these situations.
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post #7 of 24 Old 06-13-2007
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Finally, overtaking keep clear...

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Originally Posted by Faster
.....If a running boat on starboard is converging and overtaking another running boat on port, the port tack boat is obligated to get out of the way....These are racing rules, casual sailors will not normally press these situations.
Faster,
You guys are making me like a boating lawyer.

You are correct as to the racing rules, (with some adjustments...) but the racing rules only apply to racing sailboats, when racing.

Otherwise, rule 13 (a) applies Rule 13: Overtaking stating the overtaking boat keeps clear, sailors out recreating should apply this rule, otherwise when there is a misunderstanding, the sailor who did not will bear the brunt...once again at least an irrated grimace...at worst the insurance liability...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingfool
SD, your humble opinion may cause a little trouble if you are beating on a port tack and find yourself on a collision course with a boat running on starboard. That skipper is likely to expect you to give way per 12 (a) i. Rule 11 / 12: Application / Sailing Vessels and if you don't, you'll at least garner a nasty grimace for your failure, assuming the other skipper is paying attention. If he isn't, then it caould be ugly and not a situation you would want to explain to your insurance agent.
As the OP did not specify that the boats were or weren't on the tack, I made the assumption that they were, you made the assumption they were not. If they were on the same tack, the windward boat, the one running, is going to have to stay clear of the leeward boat, which is beating.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-13-2007 at 09:28 PM.
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post #9 of 24 Old 06-13-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T34C
"A running boat must give way to the close hauled boat, but what if the close hauled boat is on the windward side?"

I think you may be over thinking this one. The only way that is possible is if they have already passed.
If someone can find a way for this to happen with both boats on the same tack, let me know. Can't happen.

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post #10 of 24 Old 06-13-2007
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Actually, it's multiplication and division before addition and subtraction; therefore 2*4+2=10, not 12. 2*(4+2)=12.

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