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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #41  
Old 03-27-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumper View Post
This is a very good discussion.

I have an interesting question:
When racing sailboats in long distance races, do the COLREGs apply or do the Racing Rules of Sailing apply? The problem with the racing rules is being able to see things like overlap and what tack the other boat is on at night. Is there a point where the Racing Rules end and the COLREGs start (like sunset)?
I think the Yacht racing rules apply only by agreement (all boats agree to them by entering the race, according to the sailing instructions). But if you don't know if that's a fellow racer or "just" a boat or ship, or are in doubt, use the COLREGS. I don't think day or night has much to do with what rules apply. I'm not sure there's much difference in practical terms anyway, except maybe at an offshore mark-rounding.
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  #42  
Old 03-27-2008
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One of the problems out there, you don't know who is on the helm. Lets say that the captain had to go below to do what is necessary (to keep his pants from turning brown), on the way back to the pilot house, he stopped and got a cup of coffee, noticed that his favorite TV show is playing so he watched it for a few minutes (more likely the whole show) then proceeded back up to the pilot house. In the mean time there is a new hire on the helm steering the vessel and has no understanding of what the rules are. Now you are on the other vessel and don't know the above. Yes! that has happened time and time again. Think about it. Wish there was a signal that screamed "STUDENT DRIVER"
Think about that Greek Ferry that ran aground on a well marked rock. The people on watch were more interested in the scoccer game playing then where they were going.

Last edited by Boasun; 03-27-2008 at 12:41 AM.
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  #43  
Old 03-27-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post
I think the Yacht racing rules apply only by agreement (all boats agree to them by entering the race, according to the sailing instructions). But if you don't know if that's a fellow racer or "just" a boat or ship, or are in doubt, use the COLREGS. I don't think day or night has much to do with what rules apply. I'm not sure there's much difference in practical terms anyway, except maybe at an offshore mark-rounding.
I disagree. Imagine being in a yacht race at night. You see, on your port bow, a green running light coming toward you. You are beating upwind on a port tack, the other boat is coming downwind. Because it is dark you can't see what tack he is on. Who has the right of way?

Colregs - you do. He sees red, you see green.
Racing Rules - He does. He is either:
a) down wind on the same tack (he has rights)
b)down wind on a stdb tack (he has rights)

What about if you are on a stbd tack in the exact same situation? It is different again.

Which rules apply and when? Any race instructions I have read do not give a time where the rules change from Racing to Colregs but the racing Rules are really hard to use in restricted visibility or at night.
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  #44  
Old 03-27-2008
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A "multiple contact situation" is a special circumstances situation, by definition. The Rules apply to the conduct between two vessels only.

Rule 5, the lookout rule, requires each vessel to ascertain to the fullest extent possible the risk of collision. That means that one is not only required to make a determination of approximate course and speed of other vessels but to also divine their intent. As Yamsailor posited, a large ship headed for a narrow channel a few miles distant should probably trigger the thought process in the minds of other vessel's master the thought that he's probably heading for the Kill van Kull, or some similar thought.

All decision making is based upon the presumption of rational actions. The lack of those rational actions, particularly in the cases of small boats and aircraft carriers, is what makes navigating in their presence a bit nerve wracking.(!)

If you're out fishing off Ambrose Light Ship amidst thirty similar sport fishermen and the Bremen Express heaves clear of the eastern horizon headed towards the light ship you can make certain preliminary assumptions about her likely future actions. And you can take early actions based upon those assumptions. But you cannot assume that the Bremen Express will regard thirtyone sport fishermen as anything other than a special circumstances situation, to which the rules of burdened and privileged do not apply. And the logical action on board the Bremen Express will be to proceed towards Ambrose Light Ship and the pilot station in the most direct fashion. Were her master to treat each fishing boat encounter as other than special circumstances, making a nice 30-45 degree course change for the first one, there would be justified and wide-spread panic among the fishing fleet. And by the time the master got done manoeuvering he'd probably be somewhere off the eastern end of Long Island as well.

The VHF is all well and good. I'm in favor of it's use. But the idea that the Bremen Express is going to communicate with very many of those fishing boats is not practicable. Her master has no practical way of telling the white hulled-blue cabined "Dolly Anne" from the white hulled-teal cabined "Annie B", much less which one is calling him on the radio. And even if communication is established, it's not reasonable to expect to exchange specific passing information based upon one 5 ton fishing vessel trolling and a 50,000 ton containership. Anotherwords, the ship can't run all over the ocean for one fishing boat without throwing the whole fishing boat fleet into a situation of doubt as to intentions. The most important role of the VHF in that situation would be to confirm to the fishing fleet that they should be expecting to see a big ship appearing shortly because he just spoke to the pilot boat and said he'd be there in an hour.

What used to be known as the General Prudential Rule is now Rule 2 (b)
"In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger."

Now we know that the Rules only apply to the conduct of two vessels within sight of one another. What makes for a special circumstance? I'll rely on my 1969 edition of Farwell's Rules of the Nautical Road for a summary of what the courts have found to be special circumstances.

"These may be said to fall into five groups: (1) where the situation is in extremis; (2) where other apparent physical conditions make obedience to the ordinary rules impracticable; (3) where the ordinary rules must be modified because of the presence of a third, or additional vessels; (4) where the situation is not specifically covered by the rules; (5) where one of two vessels proposes a departure from the rules and the other assents."

Later on Falwell writes, "In all such cases, special circumstances may be deemed to exist the moment any of the vessels is prevented from obeying the usual rules." This in regard to more than two vessels.

Earlier on he details what are not considered special circumstances and I'll try to summarize some of the lengthy explanations.

...if an impending danger is too distant to be considered immediate.
...action by the privileged vessel while it is still possible for the burdened vessel to carry out her obligation and give way. (that being the situation where if you have not taken early and substantial action, readily apparent, you're required to stand on until the pucker factor goes rather higher than confortable!)
...steaming in restricted visibility where a certain amount of headway must be maintained to maintain steerage but that amount of headway makes it impossible to stop the vessel as required. (think maybe Cape Cod canal or other swift moving currents)
...an interesting example of a sailing vessel drifting in a very light wind insufficient to provide steerageway and not keeping a proper lookout subsequently struck by a tug and tow. "the tug was obviously at fault for failing to keep clear of the sailing vessel; but the court held the yacht also at fault, refusing to excuse her situation on the grounds of special circumstance and holding that she should have anchored near the shore instead of allowing herself to drift into mid-stream and into the regular path of moving vessels."

As can be seen there's rather more to the Rules than a cursory reading will reveal and many of the ideas of hard and fast rules are not always quite so. I well recall thinking I had a firm grasp of the Rules and all their concepts only to be confronted with court case examples that required me to go back and re-study the Rules, this time integrating all of them into a cohesive body of work in my mind. For instance, I'd blithely overlooked the fact that the Rules only apply to two ships in sight of one another (assuming that accurately derived radar information was as valid as visual information) and assumed also that, where more than one vessel was present, you dealt with each as they appeared via the Rules for two ship situations ( special circumstances to me at that time was an ephemeral concept!).
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Last edited by sailaway21; 03-27-2008 at 02:39 AM. Reason: grammar
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  #45  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumper View Post
I disagree. Imagine being in a yacht race at night. You see, on your port bow, a green running light coming toward you. You are beating upwind on a port tack, the other boat is coming downwind. Because it is dark you can't see what tack he is on. Who has the right of way?

Colregs - you do. He sees red, you see green.
Racing Rules - He does. He is either:
a) down wind on the same tack (he has rights)
b)down wind on a stdb tack (he has rights)

What about if you are on a stbd tack in the exact same situation? It is different again.

Which rules apply and when? Any race instructions I have read do not give a time where the rules change from Racing to Colregs but the racing Rules are really hard to use in restricted visibility or at night.
I'm not sure about the racing rules but as to the Colregs you are the stand-on vessel in either case. I do not see how, in the case you mention, that you can assume he is on anything other than the port tack if you're seeing green. (?) And in both cases, you on the port or starboard tack, he would be to windward and the give-way vessel.
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  #46  
Old 03-27-2008
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Sailway - thanks for the informative posts - very enlightening....

Thats the issue with new technology - one assumes as a captain of the vessel with all that gear. If you have it and you use it that in combination with the regular joes understanding of the law... all should be well... obviously you have seen the real workings... thanks for the insight
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  #47  
Old 03-27-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
I'm not sure about the racing rules but as to the Colregs you are the stand-on vessel in either case. I do not see how, in the case you mention, that you can assume he is on anything other than the port tack if you're seeing green. (?) And in both cases, you on the port or starboard tack, he would be to windward and the give-way vessel.
Of course, if it's a dark night and it turns out to be a channel marker, it's probably a good idea to give way regardless..
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Last edited by Classic30; 03-27-2008 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 03-27-2008
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What it all boils down to is this:
1. Know the Rules of the Road/ColRegs.
2. Abide by them while being courteous to everyone out there.
3. Watch out for the idiots who don't abide or know the rules.
4. In a court of Law, the Rules of the Road stomps racing rules almost every time.
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Old 03-28-2008
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Yes Boasun,

You are quite correct.
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Old 03-08-2009
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There was a great article in the last issue of Professional Mariner about the Rules of the Road
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