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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.


View Poll Results: As Privileged When Do You Turn to Avoid Collision
Before my boat is within 10 boat lengths (I always give-way) 9 30.00%
Before my boat is within 5 boat lengths 7 23.33%
When I will not cross without risk of a collision (3 boat lengths) 13 43.33%
Never; we need a new gelcoat job and insurance money 1 3.33%
Voters: 30. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05-14-2010
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Privileged on Starboard, when do you tack away?

So we have had this happen a couple of times before, where the burdened sailing vessel does not turn away early enough; but never so seemingly close as it was a couple of weeks ago.

We were sailing my 41' C&C close-hauled into 20kts of wind. I was not at the helm, and my girlfriend was gaining some valuable helm time in wind that is above her usual comfort level; and she was doing fine although she was feeling challenged. We were pointing high; as there was a smaller sport sailing boat (28 feet or so) on our starboard quarter that was closing on us but was about 20 degrees off the wind. They had already spilled off and were close reaching. We are holding our course as the boat to starboard closes and plans to pass behind.

At the same time a 40-something foot cruising sailboat is approaching on a close reach from our port. I'm watching them close rapidly and I tell my GF to hold her course as we are on starboard tack and are required to hold course for both the boat windward/astern and in the opposite tacks crossing. I'm watching the cruiser close with no change in bearing and it is now within 200 yards doing about 8kts with our boat doing 5kts. I give a long blast on the air horn to let them know we are on a collision course. No response; no change in sail trim or course. Distance closes to 100 yards and I give another long blast. Again no change in course. Their boat has kids sitting on the bow; and a bow sprit that would easily hole our boat on the doghouse or take us out in the cockpit.

Remember, we are not in a racing dial-up, I have seen no indication of course change, and we are closing at over 12kts. We get down to 3 boat lengths and I scramble to grab the helm and turn us away before we get t-boned. I figured that at least if I turned away the collision would not be as severe. As I round up I see their sails start spilling and they pass to the stern within a boat length; still doing 8kts. The smaller boat on our quarter tacked away as I rounded up (I think). I hollered at the cruising boat asking if they KNEW a starboard tack boat was privileged; and the reply was yes. I hope they also knew they were on port; but I did not get a chance to ask as they were out of range within a few seconds and I had my hands full trying not to get backwinded in 20kts of wind and 3kts of current.

Was I correct in my action here; or did I do anything wrong?
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Old 05-14-2010
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Post the boat name so everyone can stay clear of this jerk....
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Old 05-14-2010
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The guy broke a number of rules. Sounds like a jerk! I would would have thrown a rotten tomato at him.


The only thing, I can see that you did wrong was sound 1 blast instead of 5 blasts. 5 blasts is the "danger" signal. One blast on inland waters in a meeting situation is " A port to port pass"

In a passing situation is " I intend to pass you on your starboard side"

Or...a long blast is given on a bend in a river or a blind corner.

It doesn't sound like he cared either way what sounds you made. As the give way vessel his responsibility was to take early and substantial action to avoid collision and let you know his intentions he did none of the above.
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Old 05-14-2010
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FWIW the sound signals are for power boat use, and your use most likely just added more confusion to the other skipper's existing perplexity. The common courtesy in sailing is just a loud hail of "starboard", and look for eye-contact with the other helms-person, do they know you are there...

Whenver it first appears that a give-way vessel may not be taking action, you should start preparations to take your own. On large sailboats like these, if you get within five boat lengths of a crossing and the give-way vessel is not clearly avoiding you, you need to bail out...and tacking is the only safe course. No need for panic, anxiety or anger...people screw up and may not handle their boats as diligently as you...just move on and enjoy the day.

And on the subject of eye-contact, that is most important when you are crossing with a powerboat, especailly a fast-mover. More and more boats are using auto-pilots in the operation of their boats, if you cannot get eye-contact with a helms-person on an oncoming powerboat, assume is not-under-command, and take avoiding action, regardless of how many rules make it the give-way party.
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Old 05-14-2010
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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.
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Old 05-14-2010
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The sounds signals are for any vessel.

I agree that 5 shorts rather than one long (which in Canadian rules is also used by vessels leaving a dock) is a more appropriate signal.

You can also alter your speed by easing sails or luffing up. Heaving-to will stop you. These all depend on the situation.
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Old 05-14-2010
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I agree that signals may have been confusing, but that's assuming the offender was aware and paying attention in the first place... kinda sounds like neither of those was the case.

The "Hail" and eye contact plan is what SHOULD happen, trouble is in many cases, esp with crew hiking in a breeze is that the port tacker might be completely unaware of the approaching boat (unforgiveable, but common) may well not hear the hail, and no one on the boat will be visible to you.

Also seeing a bowsprit style cruising boat with kids on the bow sailing blindly on a port tack would not have given me any particular confidence in this boat's handling and manueverability in close action.

In a racing situation a one-boat length clearance on a cross is generous... not so much in a cruising one. I'd have had no problem with the cross as described IF the port tacker had acknowledged my presence and indicated his intentions to cross behind.

You did what you needed to do given the lack of interaction between the two of you prior to the cross.. I'd have been annoyed too, under the circumstances.
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Old 05-14-2010
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Are we talking racing or cruising here?


We are cruisers on our boat and we sail on a large body of water.>>
My opinion, out day sailing, there is no need to be anywhere near another boat. 10 boat lengths? How about 1,000 feet? It is generally pretty obvious when they don't see you. Give them as much room as they need, it's a great big lake out there.


And I don't tack away; I simply fall off and duck under.


Sorry, Keel, I would never have gotten that close. I understand there can be confusion if the Stand on vessel changes course and than the Give way vessel does the same thing. Or by you changing course you put your self in to a compromising position with the third vessel, but still right or wrong; three boat lengths away is too late no matter who has the Rights.


I might be overly cautious and I agree he was a jerk, but I am always willing to give up rights to avoid such a situation. That’s just me and I might take some heat for this. And believe me, I am not saying he was not a jerk or he was within his right, not saying that at all. Try driving the Dan Ryan expressway sometime.
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Old 05-14-2010
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Keel, where you ever able to make eye contact with the helmsman of the vessel on a port tack before the closing distance was at a critical point? In other words, do you think they did not see you? Good job on avoiding the collision as that is the most important goal and that was accomplished.
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Old 05-14-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailortjk1 View Post
Are we talking racing or cruising here?


We are cruisers on our boat and we sail on a large body of water.>>
My opinion, out day sailing, there is no need to be anywhere near another boat. 10 boat lengths? How about 1,000 feet? It is generally pretty obvious when they don't see you. Give them as much room as they need, it's a great big lake out there.


And I don't tack away; I simply fall off and duck under.


Sorry, Keel, I would never have gotten that close. I understand there can be confusion if the Stand on vessel changes course and than the Give way vessel does the same thing. Or by you changing course you put your self in to a compromising position with the third vessel, but still right or wrong; three boat lengths away is too late no matter who has the Rights.


I might be overly cautious and I agree he was a jerk, but I am always willing to give up rights to avoid such a situation. Thatís just me and I might take some heat for this. And believe me, I am not saying he was not a jerk or he was within his right, not saying that at all. Try driving the Dan Ryan expressway sometime.
Tim,

I think our tolerance for proximity might be somewhat situational, based on where we sail.

Here on the Chesapeake, many of us have to run several miles up or down river/channel to get to the bigger Bay. There's a lot of ducking and dodging until we reach wide open water, and that can take an hour or more. Sailing along and passing within a fraction of a boat-length of other boats is not at all uncommon -- even for cruisers.


KH,

You did alright. The other boat should have communicated its intent to duck you, by shouting "Hold Your Course" (or simply "Course") and also making an unmistakable course correction. No need for them to cut it so close or play chicken.
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