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Thread: Privileged on Starboard, when do you tack away? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-05-2010 12:49 PM
In extremis

You did the right thing. It's called being "in extremis", a "special circumstance" that allows you to deviate from the Rules.

In extremis is a Latin phrase meaning "in the farthest reaches" or "at the point of death", generally referring to grave or exceptional circumstances.
05-14-2010 05:03 PM
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
I really agree with Sailingfool. But from another perspective entirely; I'd say you did not have rip control of the helm away from your GF. You were aware of everything going on around you but for some reason you didn't react in a calm way by just explaining to your GF; That, when other boats are in sight it is always best to anticipate the worse case and take action long before it has to become a "who should do what or not" situation. then show and allow her to take the appropriate action.
I completely understand your point Denise; but please understand that this was a situation where I did not feel comfortable with anyone else at the helm but myself (the boat owner). I don't care if it was a guy, gal, or someone with more helm experience. If boats are going to collide; I would rather be the sole person responsible and thereby protect the liability of my crew.

The situation required rounding up head to wind without being backed in 20 kts and current. I know for a fact that my girlfriend does not have the proper experience to do this. She was being "challenged" enough to begin with; at my discretion/teaching and she was doing great with the boat dipping the rail in on puffs. Technically I should have taken the helm earlier when I became aware of the second crossing situation; but I wanted to let her drive and learn more about who has right-of-way, and why.

She was asking about both boats and I reminded her that we were leeward of the boat to starboard; and the boat on port was also give-way; and in both situations we were required to hold course unless we wanted to become give-way to both boats. What I was trying to get her to realize was that unless the boat is leeward and on starboard and we are bearing down on them; we were not give-way (aside from an anchored boat or overtaking, etc.).

I agree that given a 2 boat situation; we should (and would) have tacked away sooner; with her at the helm. The problem was we had a 3'rd boat closing on our quarter and doing so would have put us on another collision course; and us as the burdened vessel. I would not want anyone else helming that one for the potential for collision either. This was not an issue of gender or dis-trust of her actual abilities. I simply did not want the collision to be due to anything other than a port tack boat not keeping clear of us; by removing her from the equation of "who was driving and why didn't you take control of the situation?".

This is a great thread. Thanks for all of the responses and different opinions; you guys are great. I think you guys are right about different saling venues. I would not feel uncomfortable dipping below another boat with less than a boat length in light wind. Our situation was in heavy air with a high closing speed and that's why I got nervous about the oncoming boat with sprit and kids on their bow. We could not see the cockpit/helmsman; they were behind a dodger and sails as the boat was on a reach. Wind was too high and distances to safely turn were too great to yell instead of using the air horn. My single blast was to get their attention; and there was no reply. Next time it will be followed by 5 blasts instead of one. On other occasions a single blast was followed by an immediate course correction; and thank-you wave for giving them a head's up. I never blast the horn if I can make eye contact and am comfortable in the assumption the burdened vessel is going to stay clear.
05-14-2010 04:17 PM
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
I have no qualms about passing very close astern of another boat. Then again, I have no qualms about passing close astern even if I am on port. I generally try not to pass close ahead when I am on port and I'm not racing,

With you there, Jeff. In our experience, you really do need to let your 'crossee' know what your intentions are. If they see you approaching at speed planning to cross astern, an uninformed panic tack could put them in your intended path..

I've even seen this with a ferry... it was planning to pass rather close by a newbie sailor - at that last minute he kind of panicked and tacked 'away' only to put himself smack in the ferry's new intended path. Didn't know that little ferry could actually stop that fast - he was lucky.
05-14-2010 04:08 PM
Jeff_H I ususally try to judge closing speed and distance early and look for clues that the other guy knows that I am here. Depending on my mood, if I am on starboard, I will give 5 blasts, hail "Heads-up, starboard" . When on Port, if its going to be a close pass, or just slow down and let him pass. I'll hail, "I see you, please hold your course." When on Starboard I typically steer defensively before I get to a point where there are no more defensive moves to make. When I do take defensive steps, I have no qualms about passing very close astern of another boat. Then again, I have no qualms about passing close astern even if I am on port. I generally try not to pass close ahead when I am on port and I'm not racing,

05-14-2010 02:34 PM
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
I think our tolerance for proximity might be somewhat situational, based on where we sail.
I will second that. Where I used to sail (large reservoir) passing within one boat length was standard. Boats that would pass 5 boat lengths away would often alter course to pass closer to say hello.

When I moved to Galveston Bay it took me a while to realize that people down here generally do not come within 10 boat lengths of each other. I was that ass for a while until I realized what a giant cushion people normally leave here.
05-14-2010 01:52 PM
chucklesR In a race I stand on or bear off depending on the rules. Cruising or day sailing I don't let anyone get within 10 lengths unless they are flashing a blue light at me.
I'd rather change course when they are half a mile away than play games on right of way.
05-14-2010 11:54 AM
WinterRiver A couple summers ago we had a really big sailboat with red sails and an intimidating bow sprit closing in on us. We were a couple miles from land with no one else around, and both had plenty of time to maneuver in the light air. My husband was getting nervous -- did I mention the scary bow sprit? I told him it was ok, and we should hold our course because we were the stand-on vessel. The other sailboat changed course slightly when just a few boat lengths away to duck behind us, passing about a boat length away. Friendly waves all around. Too bad I didn't have my camera.

Puma I trusted that racers know and follow the rules, even when they're just out for a practice sail. Otherwise I might have been nervous too.
05-14-2010 11:18 AM
jackdale Yes - 34 (a) applies to power-driven vessels. 34(d), the five or more rule applies to all vessels.

Note to self - be specific.

I spend virtually no time in US inland waters, but I should probably know them, in case. The Canadian Modifications are tougher to understand - so I am focusing on them.

I have read little discussion of altering speed, by easing sails or luffing up, as a means of avoiding collisions.
05-14-2010 10:41 AM
nolatom That's what I teach too. Danger signal's for everyone, maneuvering signals (other than overtaking signal) are for power-driven vessels.

But I might give one blast to a "no looking" port tacker, just to get his attention. As he gets close and I'm unsure of his intentions, then danger signal, and just before you get to where any action on his part will be too late, bail the hell out of there. But regarding sound signals, you're sort of downwind from him, and the sound travels poorly, so no substitute for a good lookout, *especially when you're on port*!
05-14-2010 10:41 AM
Originally Posted by sailingfool View Post
This avoidance manouver leads to the Andrea Doria syndrome...

In the rules for power boats, there is an explicit instruction to this effect:
(c) A power-driven vessel which takes action in a crossing situation in accordance with subparagraph (a)(ii) of this Rule to avoid collision with another power-driven vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, not alter course to port for a vessel on her own port side. "

While the rule-writers didn't add the same caveat to the sailboat rules, its the same circumstance...the standon vessel should not turn towards the give-way vessel, or they may end up hunting each other, letting someone duplicate the Andrea Doria.

That is the whole problem; without eye contact, do you know what the other person will do? If I have eye contact with the helmsman, I have fair confidence that he may come very close but that he sees me. Waving is good. I sail the Chesapeake, and many come quite close.

On the other hand, I had an episode last year that was too close. I was full-and-by at about 9+ knots on starboard (light catamaran) and a large (60') well-trimmed mono was doing the same speed on port. We were closing very fast and the bearing had not changed in several minutes. As we got close (10 of my lengths but only about 20 seconds), he apeared to bear-off, but it was only a wind shift. Just as we got into the critical zone, the wind shifted back so that he would cross somewhere behind my mast. I had zero eye contact, because the boat had a large sweaper. If I tacked away, I would loose right of way and stearage and would probably be hit on the transom (and his boat would cut mine in half). If I bore off, we would close at 20 knots and I would have to PRAY he did not see me and also bear off. The Andria Doria case. Crap.

I bore-off hard, passed him very close at nearly 25 knots combined (quick acceleration on a reach), and scared his useless girlfriend so much she fell off her seat (she was facing aft). The skipper jumped all over the place, startled because he NEVER saw me. I loudly suggested that if he couln't keep a bow watch he should stay at the dock.

Since my boat weighed 1200 pounds to his 50,000 pounds, and given the speed, someone would have been hurt or worse. I would have sunk in moments.

It is all about eye contact. If you can see each other, it can be safe very close. Without eye contact with the skipper or and ACTIVE crew member, you can only give wide bearth and hope there are not too many other boats around to crowd things.

Though bearing off was the only choise I had at the last moment, it was wrong in a number of important ways and it scared the hell out of me. I should have realized the boat was without a watch and would not react predictably.
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