why was the singlehand/lookout thread closed? - SailNet Community

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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.

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Old 04-01-2011
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why was the singlehand/lookout thread closed?

The arguments there are by OP and by those responding (yeah, us "bricks") is a discussion well worth having, and continuing, at least in my opinion.

OP, if ever in a collsion at sea (unlikely, but yeah it happens) will find a federal judge in the US, to be a "brick" about Rule 5, too.

Bottom line, if you had a collision, and weren't keeping a visual lookout "at all times", you won't get away without fault. Singlehanders are not an exception to rule 5--any more than would be a tanker crew who was "singlehanding" with no one on the bridge.

Not that I want to be a Moderator, nuh-uh.
Old 04-01-2011
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As a follow up I emailed the USCG and talked to a friend who is an admiralty law attorney. Scraph's original interpretation of the rule was incorrect, for bad or good, but single-handed sailors are not absolved of rule 5 and keeping a look out via sight and eharing:

Here's the response:


Regarding single-handed lookouts, the 'best input' has been provided by the Court(s): "It may seem unfeeling to condemn single handed transatlantic sailors for sleeping at night. But they pursue this hazardous avocation voluntarily, and are not exempt from the requirements of prudent seamanship...[this sailor's] decision to go below during the nighttime was negligent. The obligation to maintain a proper lookout falls upon great vessels and small alike."
--GRANHOLM v. TFL EXPRESS, 576 F.Supp. 435, 1984 A.M.C. 943

We hope this answers your inquiry and we exhort you to always navigate safely,

U.S. Coast Guard
Office of Navigation Systems
Washington, DC 20593-7851

And a brief excerpt from the ruling (Camera was the sailboat and Express the ship):

"The CAMERA's failure to maintain an attentive lookout rises to the level of that of the EXPRESS; indeed, the failure to maintain any lookout at all at night constitutes a more severe degree of neglect. That is sufficient to overcome any advantage which the CAMERA might otherwise enjoy as (1) an overtaken vessel which (2) was under sail."

As I read that the judge gave more weight to the fact that he did not maintain a proper look out than the fact that the ship was over taking and give way to a vessel under sail.

I guess the USCG and US Judges are "bricks" too..
-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 04-01-2011 at 02:01 PM.
Old 04-01-2011
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We don't always editorialize on why a thread is closed. In this case, it might be helpful and serve as a useful reminder on our standards. However, please don't construe this as an invitation to belabor the point.

While the topic was a fair one -- and one that has been hashed out here many times in the past replete with similar calculations and ROR arguments -- we have neither time nor inclination to repeatedly police threads or individual posts for abusive language or lack of civility. If a thread or poster requires too much "maintenance", we may shut it down or issue warnings or both.

It's that simple.

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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62

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