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Old 11-08-2013
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Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See more at

This was an interesting article. It's from an expert in admiralty and maritime law in CA though I certainly have no plans to test the argument.

The Log Newspaper | California Boating & Fishing News - Recreational-Sailboat-vs--Tugboat-with-Barge--Who-Has-the-Right-of-Way-
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

I thought it was well written..
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Old 11-08-2013
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

As a licensed Unlimited 2nd Mate, I find that if a sailboat is in this situation, they should avoid impeding the tug and barge.. Though not qualified as a ship, tug and barges can easily be big enough to qualify as a ship in their length and breadth. That being said, they can't turn or stop like a normal power boat. They may take a half of a mile to come to an stop, and may take an 1/8 of a mile for the bow to respond to rudder commands. So even though the sailboat has "right of way", do you want to risk you and your crews lives, and the vessel because you wanted to prove a point? And said point won't hold up in admiralty court because you didn't show good seaman prudence.

That being said, commercial maritime traffic is the backbone of this nation so let's try not cause harm and keep it going.

A little saying goes on out here, "if in doubt follow Rule 39: rule of gross tonnage." That being if they are bigger than you and you can go around, do so.
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Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

"Hey tugboat pushing the gazillion-pound barge overtaking the blue sailboat, are we in your way?"

"Naw, hold what you got shrimp, we'll squeeze by OK."

How about talking to each other?
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Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

Hmmm,

The conclusion of the article that the sailboat technically was a stand-on (formerly right of way) vessel seems off for this situation, because San Diego Bay is a small place with a huge lot of traffic; a tug with tow here is very hemmed in and restricted in ability to maneuver. I'd disagree and the analysis didn't seem to tumble to the key phrase "in the bay".

Further, relative to the article, my own opinions were
(1) A key phrase in the original question was "in the bay". For a tug and tow, "in the bay" in San Diego is a confined situation in a frequently congested area in which opportunities for a tug with tow to maneuver are severely restricted. This was not considered adequately in the analysis of whether the tug was reduced in ability to maneuver (RAM). It's a different situation out in open, unobstructed, uncrowded, deep water.
-- Congested ports often also have special local regulations as well as designated traffic lanes off their approaches; movements of larger or sensitive vessels may be under the governance of a vessel traffic service such as in San Francisco or Seattle.
-- The amount of congestion is effectively increased in a place such as San Diego by the presence of numerous "approach me not" vessels such as military ships, cruise ships, ferries, etc.; in the US these have go-slow and no-go zones and in some parts of the world they carry moving exclusion zones with them as they maneuver. And don't forget to smile for the nice Coasties on the escort vessels with their 50-caliber machine guns.

(2) Many recreational anglers do not understand the limits and intents of which fishing vessels are considered reduced in their ability to maneuver and given priority as stand-on vessels. Hint: casting a worm out with your Zebco doesn't confer special status under the rules. This status is reserved for vessels whose ability to maneuver truly is limited, such as vessels working big nets... purse seiners, etc. I really think that the IRPCAS/COLREGs etc. should be clarified so that recreational anglers don't constantly mis-understand this.

(3) While the Rules generally are applied between a pair of vessels at a time, in a busy harbor the skippers must be aware of many other vessels and anticipate developing situations. General prudence and seamanship are always needed. Never follow the rules to the point of irretrievably standing into danger; indeed this is a rules requirement.

(4) Although the rules are generally consistent or similar, skippers need to know which rules apply ... the IRPCAS/COLREGs beyond the demarcation line in the ocean, the Inland Rules, or local or territorial rules in non-federal waterways, or even special "private" cases such as the racing rules.

Last edited by rgscpat; 11-09-2013 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

A very good analysis and sensible comment by BoatyardBoy.

We sail 4,000 nm per year and have over 200 ship interactions. We follow the rules, negotiate passings frequently on the VHF and unless we have a problem are as considerate as we can be to commercial vessels.

If the tug/tow was claiming rights as a RAM (restricted in ability to maneuver) we would get out of his way, if not we would call on the radio but would have a very low threshold for getting out of his way. We often find that a few degree change in our course will avoid all problems, providing you pick them up and make the change at 10 miles plus. AIS has significantly improved our ability to easily handle interactions and make the correct course changes. We transmit on AIS and use the radio so the large course changes I used to make, showing them the other light, is now rarely necessary.

Even when we are not in a narrow channel or inshore shipping lane we are far more considerate when in crowded waters. In open waters we frequently ask ships to give us a wider margin explaining that as a sailboat we need a little more room. However, once a second or third vessel is involved we are less likely to ask for a course change unless we are being squeezed between two big ships. In a situation like that we would talk to both bridges and make sure they were aware of our position. Occasionally we use their MMSI number to 'ring the phone' on their bridge to ensure that they are aware of our position.

The only ships out there that have given us a problem are ones with watch officers with Eastern European accents and the US Navy who like to maintain radio silence and do not transmit on AIS. Not a very sensible precaution when 50 miles from Jacksonville in heavily trafficked waters.

When communications are poor we start the engine for added maneuverability under Rule 2...Good seamanship and get out of the way!

Oh, if you think anyone is watching... http://www.maib.gov.uk/publications/...mor_stream.cfm

Phil
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

IMHO the law of tonnage trumps COLREGs. Rules don't matter if you're dead.

But, also IMHO the maritime law expert is missing the narrow channel argument. For a tug pushing a barge, I'd interpret San Diego bay as a narrow channel, and give the rights to the tug/barge on the push.
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

I don't see what is the point. It is obvious that a tugboat with a barge is a vessel “restricted in her ability to maneuver" the same way a trawler with a net out is.
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
I don't see what is the point. It is obvious that a tugboat with a barge is a vessel “restricted in her ability to maneuver" the same way a trawler with a net out is.

It's just an academic discussion of the " rules".

To your point, the article simply indicates that there are lights and day shapes that a vessel RAM, needs to display to declare that status. However, absent those, Rule 2 comes in to play and points out that the sailboat expecting to be exonerated from any responsibility in an incident, simply because they were " technically" stand on, would not pass the responsibility to avoid collision test. in fact, it states that the sailboat ( besides being crushed) might bear most of the burden.
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Re: Recreational Sailboat vs. Tugboat with Barge: Who Has the Right of Way? - See mor

[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by capecodda View Post
IMHO the law of tonnage trumps COLREGs. Rules don't matter if you're dead.
Well said, my experience was in and outside of San Francisco Bay for many years, lots & lots of commercial traffic. My observations have been that if you get in their way, you WILL be run down, end of story, regardless of "The RULES".

Quote:
But, also IMHO the maritime law expert is missing the narrow channel argument. For a tug pushing a barge, I'd interpret San Diego bay as a narrow channel, and give the rights to the tug/barge on the push.
In most harbors that I am familiar with there is little to no room for commercial traffic to "Maneuver". For liability purposes, they might give you 5 blasts on the whistle/horn right before they run them down.

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