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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-29-2007 03:41 AM
sailaway21 Messenger has managed to do exactly what i cautioned against doing in my previous post. He is incorrect.

First, "making way" is not defined in the rules and is irrelevant to the rules application, with the exception of what lights are displayed to indicate status. The showing of sidelights while NUC and making way is, in essence, an advisory signal, and in no way changes the vessel's NUC status or privelage. The only recognized conditions are "underway" or "anchored, made fast to the shore, or aground".

The definition of "not under command" is not dependent upon the vessel NUC ability to display the proper lights/shapes to indicate same. "Signals to attract attention" will suffice to indicate such NUC status. Vessels less than 12 meters LOA are not required to display such signals, but may.

Not under command is: "a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel."

"exceptional" is defined by the dictionary as 'not ordinary or average'.

The Rules express no degrees of not under command, only "exceptional" or out of ordinary. Common sense dictates that hove-to or adrift is not an ordinary condition of vessels. A reading of the fishing/trawling rules may better illuminate the concept.

Furhtermore, Rule 13 addresses, in part, overtaking: (c) When a vesel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly. (d)Any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the tow vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.

The mere fact that his vessel is hove-to makes his vessel not under command, regardless if he is at the helm or doing his business overboard. He is as "unable to manoeuver as required" as he would be if he were sailing at 5 knots thru the water against a 6 knot current. It is condition of the vessel, not condition of the crew, that determines NUC.

Messenger's last sentences are a bit of a red herring as well. Ships in crossing situations go NUC all the time. By defintion, the situation would then become either an overtaking one or a meeting one. In either case, the other vesel would be required to stand clear due to the change in status of the vessel now hove-to (for whatever reason).

This is in no way meant as an attack on Messenger, but merely an attempt to reinforce my earlier point, amply backed by Boasun, another professional mariner, that the Rules are only what they say they are, and what you think they are or should be is not germaine. An EXTREMELY careful and narrow reading of the Rules is necessary for a proper understanding of them. They are not meant to be expansive, flexible, or subject to interpretation.

For a comprehensive examination of the Rules I would recommend, "Farwell's Rules of the Nautical Road" published by the US Naval Institute Press. The volume lists the rules, their explanations, and how the courts have ruled in countless Admiralty cases.

In describing Rule 2, old Rule 27, commonly called the Special Circumstances Rule or General Prudential Rule no less than the US Supreme Court has said, "Exceptions to the International Rules, provided for by this rule, should be admitted with great caution, and only when imperitively required by the particular circumstances. Therefore under all ordinary circumstances, a vessel discharges her full duty and obligations to another by a faithful and literal observance of these rules."
06-22-2007 11:23 AM
messenger Eherlihy

I was having trouble trying to picture this situation until looking at your pic. If your pic is indicative of Equitiman's thread starting situation, with the angle of the blue boat and the red boat, I would assume this to be an overtaking situation, thus the blue boat has right of way. If the red boat could not see the blue boat's red bow light at night, i.e. more than two points abaft the beam, it would be an overtaking situation.If you are hove to, you are MAKING WAY, and you are definitely in command of your vessel. Don't think the courts care if you are fiddling around or not. Even if you are standing on the lee rail, releasing liquids into the sea you are making way, and you are in command. Although you may get a ticket for the release of above mentioned liquid from some over zealous watercop(is there any other kind?). Just think of this situation or really any situation similar to this...what would it look like at night? The red vessel would only see a white light, a white light getting closer- the blue boats stern light. If you are Not Under Command for SOME OTHER reason, for instance running aground, or a line in your wheel, or even a crab pot in your rudder, you must hoist the appropriate dayshape, or display the appropriate lights at night. Two black balls by day, two reds, one over the other at night. Or drop anchor, one black ball, or one white all around lite. Since most recreational vessels don't have the inventory of lights and dayshapes required on commercial vessels, the use of your Visual Distress Signals both day or night, even pointing a bright spotlight at night in the air, would probably put you in good shape in the courts if you were in a Not Under Command situation. I don't think the courts would consider Equitiman's heaving to and fiddling around, as a NUC event. However, if Equitman hove to and started fiddling around with a crossing, meeting, or overtaking situation in progress, i.e. how close WAS the red boat when he hove to?(which sounds like his situation), then he would not be the privileged vessel, because he did not maintin course and speed.
06-21-2007 10:44 PM
sailingdog Just remember that ultimately, your responsibility is to do what ever is necessary to avoid a collision.
06-21-2007 11:12 AM
SailorMitch Really good thread with some good info. This is making us all think, which is good. Every situation is not cut and dry, so all the opinions help. Having said that, remember that the last rule is to avoid a collision no matter who "has the right of way." Several times a season probably all of us have to give way to a burdened boat because the other captain doesn't know the rules, isn't paying attention or has some problem he is dealing with.

One small example -- couple of years ago I was sailing down the Chesapeake by Annapolis and a Navy 44, on what appeared to be a training mission, was about to cross in front of me. I was on starboard and they were on port. But I could tell the mids were having problems with the sails --the jib was twisted as I recall, lines were in the water and there were some kids running around on deck. And then one of them saw me coming right at them and even more pandemonium broke out. So I simply hardened up to duck in behind to go around them. Had I stayed on course I doubt we would've hit, but it would have been too close for comfort. After I was by them I looked back and they had the sails drawing nicely -- and the crew was standing by the rail saluting me. I doffed my hat and bowed to them and kept on my way. At least they knew!
06-21-2007 10:44 AM
Boasun And if you are in doubt as to what to do then assume you are the giveway vessel.
But knowing Colregs and Inland Rules will reduce that doubt by a great amount.

And as Sailaway21 states: don't read or interpet the rules to what you want, or think they should read. But as they really are.
06-21-2007 04:33 AM
sailaway21 Not under Command's definition is met, regardless of the lack of dayshapes displayed. The "give-way" vessel is indeed over-taking and, should they have any doubt as to that status they are to assume they are over-taking.

SailingDog makes a quite common, and therefore understandable, error in his explanation of Restricted in Ability. The Colregs are to be read and interpreted EXACTLY as written. One cannot withdraw a phrase or term and apply one's own definition or applicability to it. Anotherwords, "Restricted in Ability" is exactly what the rule says it is. It cannot be expanded or extrapolated to more than what the definition says it is. As Bill points out, the rule would only apply if there was something inherent in the nature of the work or navigation of the boat that made her unable to comply with the normal rules. The word "work" has tremendous significance. NUC is the appropriate rule, in essence granting the same privelages.

I know this sounds somewhat nit-picky but that is exactly what the court proceedings in these matters end up being. Most convictions in Maritime Board of Inquiries are a result of misinterpretation of status. Had collision resulted, the other boat would have been found responsible due to his requirement to assume an over-taking status. Furthermore, the over-taking situation cannot morph into a crossing situation, regardless of bearing shift.

The rules, as written, are very sparse. The emphasis is on determining your status within the strict guidelines of the rules. After that, your responsibilities are fairly obvious. My post under "signalling" in the seamanship forum gives an example of how all of this can play out in court.

If you read the rules carefully you will note many interesting things, such as, not all fishing boats, who are fishing, are "fishing boats" as defined by the rules. A fishing boat, not displaying the lights and shapes for a fishing boat, cannot be assumed to be "fishing' as defined by the rules, and therefore does not have the rights of a fishing boat.

It is actually clearer than it sounds if you read the rules. Which is basically the point-you must be well read, with understanding, in the rules to be able to act correctly. A set of flash-cards and what you "think" the rules mean will get you in trouble.
06-20-2007 06:50 PM
nolatom Still, betcha dollars to doughnuts that this was an overtaking situation, with heaved-to boat making nearly no headway, and converging boat (which our poster saw later on when he was abeam) actually came up from more than 2 points abaft the beam of our guy. Too much speed differential, I'd think, for it to be otherwise.

That said, it ain't too much work to move the tiller a little to avoid a close-quarters situation, whether you're burdened or privileged. Life's too short...
06-20-2007 05:06 PM
Originally Posted by btrayfors
"there wasn't really anything I could have done to avoid a collision"

Well....there you go! That's the definition of a vessel not under command.

LOL... yup...that's true.
06-20-2007 05:04 PM
timangiel since we are on the topic of right of way, I often see people windsurfing. Are they just another sailboat as far as the rules are concerned? I've tried to ram them but so far they have been too quick. . Also, I see many kayaks and those rowing club boats, where do they fall in? thanks.
06-20-2007 04:38 PM
btrayfors "there wasn't really anything I could have done to avoid a collision"

Well....there you go! That's the definition of a vessel not under command.

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