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Old 13-12-2019, 15:06   #1
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Courtesy when giving way

This is something I've meant to post for some time, based on many observations in the S.F. Bay.

Having stood watch on transport vessels, and watched the challenges and intricacies of managing the kinetic energy of a big boat coming into port, I never insist on a transport vessel giving way to me. Never mind what the COLREGs say (they tell you to give way) - the physics are such that you might as well expect a train to give way to your car at a crossing.

When a sailing vessel is anywhere near a position where a close-aboard conflict could exist, the anxiety can get pretty high on the bridge. All the Pilot and Helmsman can do is try to guess what the sailboat is going to do next, and hope they don't hit you. And when you do give way, your action can be ambiguous. You can't expect them to understand exactly how a sailboat behaves, for example, slowing down when tacking. You often hear something like: "what's he doing now?!" (sometimes with expletives added in). "Does he even see us?"

There is no established sign or signal that says: "relax - I am giving way." Unless you have a horn deigned for a freight train, they'll never hear it on their bridge. (Those little air can horns are the very definition of wimpy.) So I just make a quick call on channel 13 (bridge-to-bridge) announcing my action. I don't hail the boat and expect a response, they're too busy on the bridge already - I just call "in the blind" and say something like this: "Motor Vessel Behemoth, this is Sailing Vessel Minuscule ahead on your starboard bow. I am giving way. I will cross your starboard side and take up position astern of your vessel."

Sometimes you'll get a "thank you," but the courtesy is always appreciated. The tug boats also appreciate your call. They can't always see you and having situational awareness of your actions makes everything much safer.
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Old 13-12-2019, 15:59   #2
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

Very good point , last year I installed Ais (vesper) on out Caribbean boat and found that being able to sea the ship names on the screen was very helpful.
One instance, a large Lng carrier heading east between St Lucia and Svg , all my visual aids said it would be close . I hailed the ship and asked what they suggested. They where very professional and suggested I hold my course. Interesting they altered theirs a just as we passed astern. I do find knowing the ships name gives me some comfort .
I know this a little different than your OP
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Old 13-12-2019, 16:04   #3
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

I come across a fair amount of tug boats and other commercial traffic in Long Island Sound - I don't expect them to give way and I always make my intentions known way ahead. I do not want to be in a situation where I hit them and I definitely do not want them to hit me . Your idea about bridge-to-bridge on channel 13 is pretty good.

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Old 13-12-2019, 16:58   #4
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

A thread from the commercial folks on how they prefer we handle crossing situations.

https://forum.gcaptain.com/t/small-c...voidance/53401
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Old 13-12-2019, 17:18   #5
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

Quote:
Originally Posted by admiralslater View Post
Very good point , last year I installed Ais (vesper) on out Caribbean boat and found that being able to sea the ship names on the screen was very helpful.
One instance, a large Lng carrier heading east between St Lucia and Svg , all my visual aids said it would be close . I hailed the ship and asked what they suggested. They where very professional and suggested I hold my course. Interesting they altered theirs a just as we passed astern. I do find knowing the ships name gives me some comfort .
I know this a little different than your OP


That has been my experience too, I call them tell them I’m in no hurry and can accept any course they would like. Almost always they request me to hold my course, I know why, they assume I’m a WAFI
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Old 13-12-2019, 18:18   #6
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

While I agree in theory, and much of the time in practice, that a call on the local bridge to bridge channel is a good idea, you also have to think about what might happen if EVERYBODY did that...

The number of sailboats that can be out on SF Bay on a busy weekend can number in the hundreds. What would happen if EVERY ONE of them was calling EVERY large ship moving around the bay? It would be chaos.

It is far better to obey the letter AND the intent of the rules and make your give way actions clear and unambiguous.

Also, don't forget that in the international rules, nothing said on the VHF eliminates your obligations under the rules.
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Old 13-12-2019, 18:51   #7
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpt Pat View Post
This is something I've meant to post for some time, based on many observations in the S.F. Bay.

Having stood watch on transport vessels, and watched the challenges and intricacies of managing the kinetic energy of a big boat coming into port, I never insist on a transport vessel giving way to me. Never mind what the COLREGs say (they tell you to give way) - the physics are such that you might as well expect a train to give way to your car at a crossing.

When a sailing vessel is anywhere near a position where a close-aboard conflict could exist, the anxiety can get pretty high on the bridge. All the Pilot and Helmsman can do is try to guess what the sailboat is going to do next, and hope they don't hit you. And when you do give way, your action can be ambiguous. You can't expect them to understand exactly how a sailboat behaves, for example, slowing down when tacking. You often hear something like: "what's he doing now?!" (sometimes with expletives added in). "Does he even see us?"

There is no established sign or signal that says: "relax - I am giving way." Unless you have a horn deigned for a freight train, they'll never hear it on their bridge. (Those little air can horns are the very definition of wimpy.) So I just make a quick call on channel 13 (bridge-to-bridge) announcing my action. I don't hail the boat and expect a response, they're too busy on the bridge already - I just call "in the blind" and say something like this: "Motor Vessel Behemoth, this is Sailing Vessel Minuscule ahead on your starboard bow. I am giving way. I will cross your starboard side and take up position astern of your vessel."

Sometimes you'll get a "thank you," but the courtesy is always appreciated. The tug boats also appreciate your call. They can't always see you and having situational awareness of your actions makes everything much safer.

If I might makes some suggestions.


It's really important to have a perfect understanding of the Rules and not to deviate from them without a really good reason. One of the main purposes of the Rules is to provide PREDICTABILITY. What commercial vessels hate more than anything is erratic, random maneuvers from pleasure vessels, not in compliance with the Rules. Safety comes from everyone knowing what to expect from each other.


Therefore, you shouldn't just call and ANNOUNCE that you're giving way, in a situation where the Rules obligate you to stand on. You have no right to do that. This is not "courtesy"; this is on the contrary, arrogance. What if the ship is already putting the rudder over to avoid you, having planned his maneuver based on the assumption that you will follow the Rules and stand on? It may make sense in some cases to not stand on, but in general a maneuver to avoid standing on should be done EARLY, before the risk of collision arises, when you are not yet obligated to stand on. If you do this after you are obligated to stand on, then you have no right to just announce that you are giving way -- you have to agree passing arrangements -- you suggest that instead of standing on maybe you will alter to port [or whatever -- be specific] and ask him if he's ok with that, and get an answer before you start your manvuer.



Otherwise, stand on when the Rules require it. It's an OBLIGATION, not a privilege.



All the more, don't ever "call in the blind". First of all, this is terrible radio procedure. You are obligated to establish postive contact first and then go to a working channel, before you start passing a message, then wait for an acknowledgement that the message has been received. Making a call without getting an answer and just assuming that the message was received is just not how marine radio comms works. It's a really bad idea in any case, and violates basic radio procedure. Then secondly, if you just ANNOUNCE a maneuver which is against the Rules, and he doesn't even answer, then you have not "agreed passing arrangements" at all, and your maneuver is totally illegitimate and can be dangerous.



If you alter course to prevent a risk of collision from arising, EARLY as this should be done, early enough that no risk of collision arises in the first place, early enough that you can be sure he is not starting a maneuver of his own (generally at least 10 miles in open water), then no call is needed.


The one thing I do agree with your post -- "never insist that [ships] give way to me". Absolutely. But you can't do that anyway -- you never have any right to insist that anyone gives way to you, not ever. The stand-on vessel doesn't have any right or any privilege -- he has on the contrary nothing but obligations, and if the give-way vessel, the ship in this case, does not give way, then you are relieved of your obligation to stand on and at a certain point you become obligated to give way yourself. That's how the Rules work.


I second the suggest to read the interesting GCaptain thread linked above. Commercial mariners want you to (a) stay well away when possible; and (b) follow the bloody Rules. They don't want you making it up as you go along, "never mind what the COLREGS say". They don't generally mind being called, but follow proper radio procedure if you do, and ask, don't tell, if you propose to deviate from the Rules.
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Old 13-12-2019, 19:01   #8
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

Quote:
Originally Posted by billknny View Post
While I agree in theory, and much of the time in practice, that a call on the local bridge to bridge channel is a good idea, you also have to think about what might happen if EVERYBODY did that...

The number of sailboats that can be out on SF Bay on a busy weekend can number in the hundreds. What would happen if EVERY ONE of them was calling EVERY large ship moving around the bay? It would be chaos.

It is far better to obey the letter AND the intent of the rules and make your give way actions clear and unambiguous.

Also, don't forget that in the international rules, nothing said on the VHF eliminates your obligations under the rules.

This is a really good post and I agree with you.


Calling a ship to avoid misunderstanding or to agree passing arrangements when this is necessary, can be really useful, notwithstanding what the MCA said in their famous MGN 167 (https://mcanet.mcga.gov.uk/public/c4...mgn/mgn167.pdf). But doing it unnecessarily in a traffic situation is a really bad idea. Any maneuver executed prior to a risk of collision arising does not require any call.



In San Francisco Bay or other pilotage waters rec boats should practically NEVER call ships. In waters like this, collision avoidance works in a different way -- you simply stay out of the channels when there is traffic, and stay out of where you know the ship will pass, so that the risk of collision never arises. Rule 9 covers a lot of encounters in waters like that anyway; you are obligated to not impede, so alter course before a risk of collision arises. You should never have to call a ship when you are maneuvering as required under Rule 9.
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Old 13-12-2019, 19:06   #9
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
If I might makes some suggestions.


It's really important to have a perfect understanding of the Rules and not to deviate from them without a really good reason. One of the main purposes of the Rules is to provide PREDICTABILITY. What commercial vessels hate more than anything is erratic, random maneuvers from pleasure vessels, not in compliance with the Rules. Safety comes from everyone knowing what to expect from each other.


Therefore, you shouldn't just call and ANNOUNCE that you're giving way, in a situation where the Rules obligate you to stand on. You have no right to do that. This is not "courtesy"; this is on the contrary, arrogance. What if the ship is already putting the rudder over to avoid you, having planned his maneuver based on the assumption that you will follow the Rules and stand on? It may make sense in some cases to not stand on, but in general a maneuver to avoid standing on should be done EARLY, before the risk of collision arises, when you are not yet obligated to stand on. If you do this after you are obligated to stand on, then you have no right to just announce that you are giving way -- you have to agree passing arrangements -- you suggest that instead of standing on maybe you will alter to port [or whatever -- be specific] and ask him if he's ok with that, and get an answer before you start your manvuer.



Otherwise, stand on when the Rules require it. It's an OBLIGATION, not a privilege.



All the more, don't ever "call in the blind". First of all, this is terrible radio procedure. You are obligated to establish postive contact first and then go to a working channel, before you start passing a message, then wait for an acknowledgement that the message has been received. Making a call without getting an answer and just assuming that the message was received is just not how marine radio comms works. It's a really bad idea in any case, and violates basic radio procedure. Then secondly, if you just ANNOUNCE a maneuver which is against the Rules, and he doesn't even answer, then you have not "agreed passing arrangements" at all, and your maneuver is totally illegitimate and can be dangerous.



If you alter course to prevent a risk of collision from arising, EARLY as this should be done, early enough that no risk of collision arises in the first place, early enough that you can be sure he is not starting a maneuver of his own (generally at least 10 miles in open water), then no call is needed.


The one thing I do agree with your post -- "never insist that [ships] give way to me". Absolutely. But you can't do that anyway -- you never have any right to insist that anyone gives way to you, not ever. The stand-on vessel doesn't have any right or any privilege -- he has on the contrary nothing but obligations, and if the give-way vessel, the ship in this case, does not give way, then you are relieved of your obligation to stand on and at a certain point you become obligated to give way yourself. That's how the Rules work.


I second the suggest to read the interesting GCaptain thread linked above. Commercial mariners want you to (a) stay well away when possible; and (b) follow the bloody Rules. They don't want you making it up as you go along, "never mind what the COLREGS say". They don't generally mind being called, but follow proper radio procedure if you do, and ask, don't tell, if you propose to deviate from the Rules.
I find it a common misperception with COLREGS that people for whatever reason interpret "stand-on" as somehow being the boat who can do whatever they want and "give way" as the boat that is responsible if any collision occurs because they were the ones responsible for getting out of the way. As you so well pointed out, that isn't the case and in reality neither vessel has a choice in what action they'll take. Obviously you can't forget the rules regarding vessels in a restricted channel or otherwise restricted in their ability to maneuver, and as a couple posters indicated if you communicate early enough you can negotiate anything. But I just wish the courses would emphasize the responsibility of stand-on vessels more emphatically.
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Old 13-12-2019, 19:30   #10
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

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I find it a common misperception with COLREGS that people for whatever reason interpret "stand-on" as somehow being the boat who can do whatever they want and "give way" as the boat that is responsible if any collision occurs because they were the ones responsible for getting out of the way. . . .

I think it's because people confuse all this with right of way on roads. It's fundamentally different, and works differently. When you are driving down the road, and you have the right of way, you do have a RIGHT. You can give it up if you want to. Standing on is not like that.
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Old 13-12-2019, 20:24   #11
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

The OP appears to be talkin about congested, constrained waters.


In that situation, I aways stress to my students the "shall not impede" requirements should be applied before it ever gets to "where risk of collision exists".
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Old 13-12-2019, 23:35   #12
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

As the CG is prone to remind all boaters (via VHF 16), that the entire S.F. Bay is subject to Rule 9. This can be especially dicey when tacking up the Alameda Estuary when a container ship is coming in...
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Old 14-12-2019, 02:13   #13
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

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As the CG is prone to remind all boaters (via VHF 16), that the entire S.F. Bay is subject to Rule 9. This can be especially dicey when tacking up the Alameda Estuary when a container ship is coming in...

In that case . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
. . . You should never have to call a ship when you are maneuvering as required under Rule 9.
and

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
. . .In that situation, I aways stress to my students the "shall not impede" requirements should be applied before it ever gets to "where risk of collision exists".

So, in summary, (1) understand the Rules; (2) maneuver early, (3) stay off the radio. Pretty simple.


Also I cannot emphasize enough, in pilotage waters no one is calculating CPAs -- rec boats STAY OUT OF THE CHANNELS UNLESS THE COAST IS WELL CLEAR. It is usually easy enough to stay out of where the ship will pass.
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Old 14-12-2019, 02:47   #14
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

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I think it's because people confuse all this with right of way on roads. It's fundamentally different, and works differently. When you are driving down the road, and you have the right of way, you do have a RIGHT. You can give it up if you want to. Standing on is not like that.
Might be written up a bit different but right of way on roads is essentially the same situation.

If you are approaching an intersection and get a green light but a car from the side road is still clearing the intersection...you don't have the "right" to t-bone them if you can reasonably avoid the accident.

Now we try to avoid this when setting up signal timings but situations can and do arise...similar to the colregs, you have a duty to do everything reasonable to avoid accidents...and similarly randomly deviating from the rules can cause more problems than it solves.
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Old 14-12-2019, 05:53   #15
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Re: Courtesy when giving way

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I come across a fair amount of tug boats and other commercial traffic in Long Island Sound - I don't expect them to give way
That probably why in LIS they think they are always the stand even with no tow. Closest ive been to getting smashed! Then the tug gets on radio and I need to review the rules.

To the OP i agree the radio method is best.
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