Everyone, both sailors and powerboaters, have many stories of rude, rule-breaking and downright dangerous behavior on the water.
I assume that the next guy doesn't know or care about the COLREGS, and I act accordingly.
Agreed, but some some situations are hard to act accordingly. Let me try to explain what we faced this past weekend, with the offender.
In front of me and to my starboard is a sailboat, under full sail, heading in roughly the same direction. I’m motor sailing, so he’s stand on, not to mention I’m overtaking, so I’m give way. Far to my starboard is a powerboat, for which I would also be give way. Although, this power boat is creeping along, likely do to the congested traffic. I determine there is no risk of collision, as I’ll easily pass in front by 100 yards or more. Still, I can’t turn to starboard, lest I create a collision risk. There is another powerboat passing my port side, on opposing courses. No risk of collision, but it prevents any course adjustment to port on my part.
Then there is the offending powerboat on my port, at full cruise speed, heading directly into the mess. We are on a collision course, there is no relative movement, and I’m not sure who he’ll hit. As stand on, I maintain course and speed. All he has to do is adjust course slightly to take our stern and he’d clear everything, as he should have. I really can’t change course, all I have at my disposal is to slow down. I wait and the bum makes absolutely no adjustment. I pull the throttle and he passes in front of me by 50 ft, literally taking a center path through it all, like he owned the place.
I truly think this one was road rage. No way he didn’t notice the potential conflict.