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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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  #1  
Old 10-09-2012
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Close call! Who had rights?

Sailed during the SF Fleet Week (Blue Angels) and AC World Series this weekend. The combination was spectacular! I usually avoid the "spectator fleet" at all costs, as the carnage is legendary for obvious reasons. I sail around the perimeter, while my guests watch the action. However, a hole opened up in front of us and suddenly we found ourselves sitting ringside with no one around, so we dropped sails and decided to spectate. It was great for a couple of minutes, then suddenly, we were surrounded by boats of every description moving every which way. We were moving/drifting slowly North, another sailboat (also under power, without sails) was in front of us moving/drifting South. Our bows were Port to Port with the other boat slightly sideways in front of my boat. Suddenly we were much to close for comfort and closing fast . I still don't know why, possibly current or wind change (my boat was in neutral, the wind would have been on his Starboard beam). The other crew started yelling and prepared to fend off, I slammed my boat into reverse with full throttle. We must have come within a couple of inches, I was waiting for the crunch! Fortunately, no one was directly behind me.
Anyway, who had rights, if anybody? I know when two power boats cross paths, the boat off the Port bow has to give way, and boats should pass Port to Port when possible. I'm guessing in this case, we would have each been responsible for our own damage (due to our stupidity for putting our boats in that un-navigable situation). Thoughts?
In any case NEVER again...I knew better!
Though...I will be watching the 2013 LV and AC (from a distance, then on TV). It will be spectacular, guaranteed!

Last edited by L124C; 01-01-2013 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 10-09-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

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Originally Posted by L124C View Post
.....Our bows were Port to Port with the other boat slightly sideways in front of my boat......
Can you describe this a bit better? I think I understand you are both motoring, so motor boat rules apply. Not certain that is the case either.

If your bows are exactly port to port, there is no risk of collision, so the rules would not apply. The slightly sideways must be the key.
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Old 10-09-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

If the sails are down and you aren't anchored or showing a day shape for anchored you are a motor boat.
The description is not clear enough, he was motoring, sideways in front of you and you were drifting - it appears to me that you were passing side to side and 'something' closed the gap.
That would be you, you, and you - unless he made a turn to cross in front.

In any case, you opted to not be able to control your boat in a potentially crowded sea way.
I've observed many races including Volvo's and the local stuff. The Volvo races had (according to the media) 1000+ boats. Drifting is not an option.
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

If you had no form of propulsion you are a NUC. As you had engines and were not anchored you were under way. Drifting is considered underway by USCG.

If you drift into another, (IE anchored) vessel, you are at fault, as you are moving, and they are not. Prop wash will close the gap between a powered vessel, and another vessel, due to law of physics, faster moving fluids have less pressure than slower moving fluids.

In this case you drifted into another vessels path....As they likely didn't know whether you were drifting, or just slowly maneuvering, (no day shapes?), usual collision avoidance rules were in effect, Ie passing, crossing rules. When you failed to comply, they should have given you a wide berth.

That they failed to do so indicates they were also paying more attention to the race, than surrounding traffic.

Lesson for future; When not at anchor in an accepted anchorage, have someone at the helm, and on watch at all times.
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Last edited by CapnBilll; 10-09-2012 at 10:35 AM.
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

You may be describing a situation where you're drifting in neutral (or engine off) and other boat was doing the same?

I don't think the crossing, meeting, overtaking, or "who's on whose starboard side" applies here, since neither of you, though "underway", had a "course", which the rules envision. Both drifting (into each other)? I'd call it a "special circumstance" where fault isn't assigned under the rules, you both may fall under Rule 2, the "special circumstances" rule, where you just do the best you can under the circumstances. No hard and fast rule, I don't think.
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

I guess moving/drifting is not clear. Where the two boats moving forward and then idling, or were they just drifting.
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

Intereseting and coloregs set aside, in this situation you do what you think is right to keep from hitting anyone. When the AC45's were in Newport I did the same thing. Sat in close proximity with 300 of my closest friends in everything from a laser (just scooting around) to an 150' mega yacht. everyone was using a combination of throttle, rudder and direction to maintain a postion againest the wind and current. It was actually fun and stressful at same time. Boats were "drifting' in and out of from row postions all day. It was fun once, I'll never do it again. Couldn't take my eyes off all the boats around me.
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Old 10-09-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

The key question here is was either vessel "Not Under Command." If so the other boat is burdened and required to keep clear. In order to be Not Under Command your vessel has to be unable to maneuver (Rule 3.) You clearly were able to maneuver since by your own admission you put the boat in gear and avoided a collision. Your sails were down so you were clearly in the category of a motor vessel according to the rules. So now the question becomes was he NUC? Most likely not. The fact that you were both drifting has nothing to do with the rules. Without being exactly clear relative position of the two boats I can't speak for who was burdened. Now you violated Rule 8 which requires you to take prompt action to avoid a collision (since you almost hit you waited too long.) But the real key is Rule 17. Rule 17 says (paraphrasing) that it doesn't matter who has "rights" in the final analysis even the "Stand on" vessel must take action to avoid the collision. My guess, not being a maritime lawyer is that a court would find both boats liable and apportion costs under that basis.

The proper action would be to have unfurled your jib! (LOL)
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Last edited by svzephyr44; 10-09-2012 at 01:19 PM.
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

Unfurling the jib does nothing if the motor is running.
It's still under mechanical propulsion anytime the engine is running.
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Old 10-09-2012
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Re: Close call! Who had rights?

I have one simple rule ... I don't care who is "in the right", I do what ever is necessary to avoid a collision. Being right doesn't do ya much good if you're underwater.

I don't expect anything, from anyone else, whether I should be able to or not. My boat, my responsibility, period.
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