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Old 17-10-2014, 14:09   #106
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
People pursue activities all the time that put themselves at risk: mountain climbing, hang gliding, sky diving, free diving, and so on, and it is not necessarily irresponsible behavior unless it puts other people at risk against their own will or jeopardizes the well-being of dependents.

There is a long and celebrated history of single handing sailboats and it is part of the tradition and legacy of the sea. In addition, many of these sailors have come to represent good seamanship, from Joshua Slocum to Matt Rutherford.

From my perspective the issue is the degree to which single handing puts others at risk, and I suspect the number of people in history that have been injured or killed by the actions of skilled and knowledgeable single handers is probably ridiculously small. I suspect more pedestrians are killed each day in the US than the sum total.

Everyone makes a decision for themselves how much risk they are willing to take in life. It's their business, as is the calculus of how responsible it is given their responsibilities in life, such as to family.
When Joshua Slocum did it, there were quite a few less boats to run into out there.

Nobody is "skilled and knowledgeable" when they are sound asleep.

I completely agree that everyone is completely welcome to take whatever risks they want to in life, right up until they turn in for the night with their boat going 7 knots, over the horizon but headed in my direction, because they have absolutely no right to determine what risks I want to take in life.
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Old 17-10-2014, 14:22   #107
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Who said that Accomplice was sitting dead in the water? Where did it say that in his post, and why would you assume that?
He said he was hove to. Yes, this is not dead in the water. But it is certainly a long way from sailing at 6 knots. He didn't mention that he had the boat underway at all. That is the very first thing I would have done. When the boat is moving, I have it in control.

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but I'm sure he had fired up the engine and gotten ready for a sudden maneuver.
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Of course the action of last resort is firing up the engine and flooring it.
Instead of getting the boat moving when the ship is 2 miles away, let's wait until it's 500 yards away and then do something. Let's Wait until the last second and "floor it". Is this the correct response to the situation?

He was in a position where he was certain that the ship was going to hit him. So no matter what way he went he would have reduced the odds by 50%. He also mentioned that he could see both lights, so we know that if he moved to a place where he could see only one light, he would be better off.

Sure, dodging back an forth is never fun, especially at night. But sitting there and waiting with no response from the bridge, and then gunning the engine. That's a solution?

When I speak of right of way, here is a very typical example. It has happened to me many times: I'm sailing out of a bay into the main shipping areas. I see over to my left, a big freighter - fully laden, and we are going to meet. Under the colregs I can maintain my course and make the ship turn. Or, I can make a tack over to the left, and after the ship passes make another tack back to the original course. When I speak of giving the ship the right of way, this is what I'm thinking. You seem to be indicating that I should have stayed on course because under the colregs this is the proper action. I would agree if it was a case of two ships meeting. But in the instance where we have a ship that takes 2 minutes to make a turn, and a sailboat that takes 3 seconds to turn, it seems to make more sense for the sailboat to turn.
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Old 17-10-2014, 14:28   #108
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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He said he was hove to. Yes, this is not dead in the water. But it is certainly a long way from sailing at 6 knots. He didn't mention that he had the boat underway at all. That is the very first thing I would have done. When the boat is moving, I have it in control.



Instead of getting the boat moving when the ship is 2 miles away, let's wait until it's 500 yards away and then do something. Let's Wait until the last second and "floor it". Is this the correct response to the situation?

He was in a position where he was certain that the ship was going to hit him. So no matter what way he went he would have reduced the odds by 50%. He also mentioned that he could see both lights, so we know that if he moved to a place where he could see only one light, he would be better off.

Sure, dodging back an forth is never fun, especially at night. But sitting there and waiting with no response from the bridge, and then gunning the engine. That's a solution?

When I speak of right of way, here is a very typical example. It has happened to me many times: I'm sailing out of a bay into the main shipping areas. I see over to my left, a big freighter - fully laden, and we are going to meet. Under the colregs I can maintain my course and make the ship turn. Or, I can make a tack over to the left, and after the ship passes make another tack back to the original course. When I speak of giving the ship the right of way, this is what I'm thinking. You seem to be indicating that I should have stayed on course because under the colregs this is the proper action. I would agree if it was a case of two ships meeting. But in the instance where we have a ship that takes 2 minutes to make a turn, and a sailboat that takes 3 seconds to turn, it seems to make more sense for the sailboat to turn.
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Colregs are colregs for a reason and when you do dopey change of course crap the ship gets confused.
There is a big difference between that and the situation in the discussion. The ship was not responding to hails and not turning in any direction. As far as the sailboat knew, there was no one on the bridge at all. Of course if the ship was reacting in any way, the situation would be completely different.
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Old 17-10-2014, 14:46   #109
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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From a book:
During my years of sailing in the waters off Victoria, on Canada’s West Coast, I have crossed tracks with more than 100 ocean going ships. I have never, not even one time, seen any of these ships make the slightest change to their course because of my boat. Even in races with a dozen or more sailboats in their path, the ships just keep moving straight ahead while the boats scatter. Rather than relying on the irrelevant notion that the powered vessel must give way, the singlehander should simply reverse the rule and make it a law that the sailboat must give way. If the skipper understands that this is the new law of the sea, he will never even consider the other possibility.


So, rather than going through all of the efforts you made to hail the ship, then shine your light on them, then try to work out in his broken English what the situation was, you might have been better off to simply assume that he has the right of way, and you should have simply flipped your sails over and moved out of the way. As said above "this is the new law of the sea."
sorry Foolish, but I'm someone with no where near the experience others have that are in this forum, but seriously this advice is of someone that sounds to have even less experience than me.

I've had this same situation occur to me with a ship at 2 am doing 16knotts. I was doing just 4 under sail. I picked them up on AIS and was able to hail them on the radio because I had their name. But given the speed they were doing and how slow I was doing getting out of the way is far more complicated than saying 'just get out if the way'. I for one had no idea which way to go and no method of getting out of the way quick enough before it coming bearing down in us.
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Old 17-10-2014, 14:58   #110
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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So you're saying that sitting, hove-to, while a ship bears down on you is "the right thing"? Even when the ship got just 1.5 miles away? Let me ask, if you are driving down the highway and you see a semi-truck coming at you in your lane; do you just keep driving knowing that he will do the right thing? My dad had a saying "you were dead right."

What if the guy on the ship was in the head with a magazine? This probably does not happen in the English Channel, but you can bet it happens on the open ocean - all the time.

There is nothing wrong with flashing your light or hailing the ship by radio. But in the end it is up the the sailor to take control of the situation. And that means sailing the boat.

Just read the Jessica Watson report that I mentioned earlier to understand what happens when a sailboat does nothing and assumes that the ship knows what the rules are. Even after she was hit by the ship and spoken to them on the radio, they didn't stop. Just kept going.
When teaching my kids to drive a car, the best advice I give them is to assume that everyone else on the road is an idiot, so drive like they are out to kill you. That is, drive defensively. Don't ever assume that the other driver will stop at a red light or stop sign. Don't ever assume that the other driver will yield the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection. Just don't ever assume that the other driver knows anything.

The same rule can be used on the sea. You can hope that the other skipper knows what he is doing, but don't assume it. So if a ship is bearing down on you and you can't get in contact at the first instant, take control of the situation yourself. You can flash lights and flares all you like, but for heaven sakes don't sit dead in the water.
You can't equate operating a 'sail' boat at sea in the dark with driving a car on the road, at all! It's simply not sensible to do that. The times between interception and collision is seconds.

All your trying to say in a very convoluted way is that every sail boater should be prepared to get out of the way regardless of the colags if the need arises, and frankly I don't think anyone would disagree with that. But it can be a last minute thing.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:00   #111
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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I've had this same situation occur to me with a ship at 2 am doing 16knotts. I was doing just 4 under sail. I picked them up on AIS and was able to hail them on the radio because I had their name. But given the speed they were doing and how slow I was doing getting out of the way is far more complicated than saying 'just get out if the way'. I for one had no idea which way to go and no method of getting out of the way quick enough before it coming bearing down in us.
You did the right thing. You established communication with the ship and figured out what to do. I'm discussing the situation where you don't have communication with the ship and it is not making any turn away from you. In fact you don't even know if there is someone on the bridge at all.

You guys are all saying that because ships must turn for sailboats, the sailboat need not take any action at all. He should just stand on and wait for the ship to turn. That will work 99% of the time, maybe even 99.9%. What I'm saying is that I work under a rule that I should give way to ships, and thus it is my responsibility to keep watch and make sure I don't get hit. With 1,000 trips into the shipping areas under my keel, I'm still alive. I haven't even been given a horn blast by a ship, and yet I cross them nearly every time I leave the dock.

As for getting out of the way, remember that a ship is only 80 yards wide. Even at 4 knots you are very quickly out of the way.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:10   #112
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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You did the right thing. You established communication with the ship and figured out what to do. I'm discussing the situation where you don't have communication with the ship and it is not making any turn away from you. In fact you don't even know if there is someone on the bridge at all.

You guys are all saying that because ships must turn for sailboats, the sailboat need not take any action at all. He should just stand on and wait for the ship to turn. That will work 99% of the time, maybe even 99.9%. What I'm saying is that I work under a rule that I should give way to ships, and thus it is my responsibility to keep watch and make sure I don't get hit. With 1,000 trips into the shipping areas under my keel, I'm still alive. I haven't even been given a horn blast by a ship, and yet I cross them nearly every time I leave the dock.

As for getting out of the way, remember that a ship is only 80 yards wide. Even at 4 knots you are very quickly out of the way.
No, what your doing is deliberately trying to prove your point by ignoring what others are saying is the problem. The fact that I was able to contact them in my situation was not the point. If I wasn't able to contact them in 'my situation' I would have struggled greatly to get out of the way and to even kniw which way to go. In my situation 80 yards to the left or right would have pulled me up dead in the water. Once the ship starts to take evasive action, then that gives me a good safe direction for me to know to take evasive action.

I don't think anyone is failing to knowledge that every skipper has the responsibility to take evasive action as well, that's the law. But you were advocating reversing the law and that's simply not practical or realistic.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:17   #113
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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What I'm saying is that I work under a rule that I should give way to ships, and thus it is my responsibility to keep watch and make sure I don't get hit.
Someone get Dockhead in here. Tell him we're going all COLREGS, and we have a live Law-Of-Tonnage guy on the hook, who operates under his own, private rule.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:22   #114
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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He said he was hove to. Yes, this is not dead in the water. But it is certainly a long way from sailing at 6 knots. He didn't mention that he had the boat underway at all. That is the very first thing I would have done. When the boat is moving, I have it in control.



Instead of getting the boat moving when the ship is 2 miles away, let's wait until it's 500 yards away and then do something. Let's Wait until the last second and "floor it". Is this the correct response to the situation?

He was in a position where he was certain that the ship was going to hit him. So no matter what way he went he would have reduced the odds by 50%. He also mentioned that he could see both lights, so we know that if he moved to a place where he could see only one light, he would be better off.

Sure, dodging back an forth is never fun, especially at night. But sitting there and waiting with no response from the bridge, and then gunning the engine. That's a solution?

When I speak of right of way, here is a very typical example. It has happened to me many times: I'm sailing out of a bay into the main shipping areas. I see over to my left, a big freighter - fully laden, and we are going to meet. Under the colregs I can maintain my course and make the ship turn. Or, I can make a tack over to the left, and after the ship passes make another tack back to the original course. When I speak of giving the ship the right of way, this is what I'm thinking. You seem to be indicating that I should have stayed on course because under the colregs this is the proper action. I would agree if it was a case of two ships meeting. But in the instance where we have a ship that takes 2 minutes to make a turn, and a sailboat that takes 3 seconds to turn, it seems to make more sense for the sailboat to turn.
He said he was hove-to when he first saw the ship. He didn't say what he did afterwards. I certainly agree that remaining hove-to would be wrong -- the correct, seamanlike response is to do everything to be ready to maneuver -- and yes, being underway gives you greater maneuverability than being hove-to. But wrong to assume anything.

Nor did anyone advocate waiting until 500 yards (2.5 cables), and it would be insane to do so. The F/V maneuvered at 1.5 miles (15 cables), a very different thing. It is not only prudent, but it is required by the COLREGS, to maneuver yourself when actions of the give-way vessel alone cannot already resolve the situation. He never said he was not prepared to do that.

If I were in that situation -- and I am veteran of hundreds of ship encounters of all kinds imaginable, day and night, in good weather and bad -- one mile would be already a desperate emergency. The fatal problem in that situation is you can't know which way to go. This statement: "So no matter what way he went he would have reduced the odds by 50%" is false. You cannot determine even close with your eyeballs, and you can't even guess with your radar without several minutes of tracking, whether the ship is passing a cable ahead or a cable behind. If he's passing ahead, and you move in that direction, you are making that situation worse. So it would be true to say not that you "reduce the odds by 50%"; it means you have a 50% chance of making the situation better, or a 50% chance of making it worse. It's only better than sitting still if you have at least slight information about whether he's passing ahead or behind. You might be better off, actually, moving away from him -- in the same direction. If you are fast enough and he's not too fast, this can help a lot, and can't hurt. If he's going 14 knots and you can make 8, you have reduced the relative speeds by more than half, more than doubling the time you have to figure out his aspect.


As to right of way -- your example is perfect. On the road, you would have the "right of way", because the freighter is to your port. At sea, you have no such thing. "Give way" and "stand on" represent the order of maneuvering for resolving a potential collision, not any rights. Both vessels are at all times responsible for avoiding a collision. You have no right -- no "right of way" -- to charge out into the channel and create a risk of collision where none existed. On the road, the "right of way" gives you the right to drive with impunity down the highway; it is 100% the responsibility of drivers coming out of side roads to avoid you. At sea, you must not charge out of a "side road" in a way which causes a risk of collision.

At sea, standing-on is an obligation, not a right. You are obliged to hold still for a moment to give the give-way vessel a chance to maneuver. It's nothing at all like the road -- it's more like a dance, where the give-way vessel is the "boy", and the "stand-on" vessel is the girl, and is obligated to give the "boy" a chance to make the first move. This is intended to prevent vessels from maneuvering into each other with uncoordinated moves.

This specifically does not apply when the "boy" doesn't make the first move. COLREGs obligate the girl to make a move "herself", when the "boy" already can't resolve the situation himself, and the COLREGs allow the girl to move as soon as it is evident that the "boy" is not making a move. Up until that point, that is, from the moment that a risk of collision exists (maneuvering prior to a risk of collision arising is allowed and encouraged), the "girl" is obligated to hold course and speed and give the "boy" a chance to do his thing. This is not a joke. This is not optional.

By the way, your example has the freighter in a channel. Is it a "narrow channel, outside of which the freighter cannot navigate safely"? Rule 9 then, in any case, requires you to keep clear.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:28   #115
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

The Dockhead has spoken.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:32   #116
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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He said he was hove-to when he first saw the ship. He didn't say what he did afterwards. I certainly agree that remaining hove-to would be wrong -- the correct, seamanlike response is to do everything to be ready to maneuver -- and yes, being underway gives you greater maneuverability than being hove-to. But wrong to assume anything.

Nor did anyone advocate waiting until 500 yards (2.5 cables), and it would be insane to do so. The F/V maneuvered at 1.5 miles (15 cables), a very different thing. It is not only prudent, but it is required by the COLREGS, to maneuver yourself when actions of the give-way vessel alone cannot already resolve the situation. He never said he was not prepared to do that.

If I were in that situation -- and I am veteran of hundreds of ship encounters of all kinds imaginable, day and night, in good weather and bad -- one mile would be already a desperate emergency. The fatal problem in that situation is you can't know which way to go. This statement: "So no matter what way he went he would have reduced the odds by 50%" is false. You cannot determine even close with your eyeballs, and you can't even guess with your radar without several minutes of tracking, whether the ship is passing a cable ahead or a cable behind. If he's passing ahead, and you move in that direction, you are making that situation worse. So it would be true to say not that you "reduce the odds by 50%"; it means you have a 50% chance of making the situation better, or a 50% chance of making it worse. It's only better than sitting still if you have at least slight information about whether he's passing ahead or behind. You might be better off, actually, moving away from him -- in the same direction. If you are fast enough and he's not too fast, this can help a lot, and can't hurt. If he's going 14 knots and you can make 8, you have reduced the relative speeds by more than half, more than doubling the time you have to figure out his aspect.


As to right of way -- your example is perfect. On the road, you would have the "right of way", because the freighter is to your port. At sea, you have no such thing. "Give way" and "stand on" represent the order of maneuvering for resolving a potential collision, not any rights. Both vessels are at all times responsible for avoiding a collision. You have no right -- no "right of way" -- to charge out into the channel and create a risk of collision where none existed. On the road, the "right of way" gives you the right to drive with impunity down the highway; it is 100% the responsibility of drivers coming out of side roads to avoid you. At sea, you must not charge out of a "side road" in a way which causes a risk of collision.

At sea, standing-on is an obligation, not a right. You are obliged to hold still for a moment to give the give-way vessel a chance to maneuver. It's nothing at all like the road -- it's more like a dance, where the give-way vessel is the "boy", and the "stand-on" vessel is the girl, and is obligated to give the "boy" a chance to make the first move. This is intended to prevent vessels from maneuvering into each other with uncoordinated moves.

This specifically does not apply when the "boy" doesn't make the first move. COLREGs obligate the girl to make a move "herself", when the "boy" already can't resolve the situation himself, and the COLREGs allow the girl to move as soon as it is evident that the "boy" is not making a move. Up until that point, that is, from the moment that a risk of collision exists (maneuvering prior to a risk of collision arising is allowed and encouraged), the "girl" is obligated to hold course and speed and give the "boy" a chance to do his thing. This is not a joke. This is not optional.

By the way, your example has the freighter in a channel. Is it a "narrow channel, outside of which the freighter cannot navigate safely"? Rule 9 then, in any case, requires you to keep clear.
This is the best explanation of right of way at sea that I've ever read! Lots of folks don't understand that the right of way rules they've memorized come into play ONLY when the risk of collision exists, and up until that point, it's up to both vessels to do what is necessary to avoid ever getting to the point where they come into play. Great post!
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:33   #117
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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Someone get Dockhead in here. Tell him we're going all COLREGS, and we have a live Law-Of-Tonnage guy on the hook, who operates under his own, private rule.
!!! I walked right into that one, didn't I

Yes, as Jammer Six correctly remembers -- it is a particular pet peeve of mine when people take the attitude of "I don't need no stinkin' COLREGs! Why, I don't want to be 'dead right' [at this point, there is usually a sanctimonious recitation of "Here lies the body of Johnny O'Day Who died Preserving His Right of Way. He was Right, Dead Right . . . But he's just as. . . "]. I just scamper out of the way of big, scary ships! What else do you need to know?"

There is no shortcut around understanding correct procedures of collision avoidance.
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:36   #118
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

Oh, I do like the "boy" / "girl" dance explanation
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Old 17-10-2014, 15:40   #119
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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No, what your doing is deliberately trying to prove your point by ignoring what others are saying is the problem. The fact that I was able to contact them in my situation was not the point. If I wasn't able to contact them in 'my situation' I would have struggled greatly to get out of the way and to even kniw which way to go. In my situation 80 yards to the left or right would have pulled me up dead in the water. Once the ship starts to take evasive action, then that gives me a good safe direction for me to know to take evasive action.

I don't think anyone is failing to knowledge that every skipper has the responsibility to take evasive action as well, that's the law. But you were advocating reversing the law and that's simply not practical or realistic.
That's an important point -- with a collision imminent, everyone should be turning to starboard in most cases. If you see the ship doing that, then hard to starboard yourself, and full ahead!
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Old 17-10-2014, 16:06   #120
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Re: Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

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If you've been sleeping for hours at a time with no-one on watch, you can't possibly have ANY IDEA how many close calls you've had, or how many others you may have endangered. Not everyone out there has an AIS transmitter or effective radar reflector so even with all your "magic" turned on, modern electronics are no substitute for a human being regularly scanning the horizon and radar screen and listening and smelling and you can't do that while asleep.

You do have it right that singlehanding is irresponsible, at least when the singlehander continues to drive on toward his destination while asleep, completely ignoring his obligation to keep a watch while underway. How can right of way rules work to keep us all safe, if one (or both) of the boats involved have no-one on watch for hours at a time? If anyone intentionally operates a boat without a lookout for a longer period than the time it would reasonably take another boat to close with them, then they are putting their own life in danger as well as anyone else who might be out there. The other boat might be keeping a good watch and see you and he might not. But where else is it OK to just drive through traffic with your eyes closed, expecting the other guy to understand and accept just how "special" you are and to assume 100% of the responsibility of avoiding a collision?

The best modern day analogy to not keeping a watch that I can think of is teenage girls adamantly defending their right to texting while driving because, after all, they just deserve to go through life with everyone else deferring to them and getting out of their way, and besides, they haven't run into anyone yet so it MUST be safe!

How is a small sailboat in the open ocean traveling at 5 knots with the happy sailor sleeping below endangering anybody but himself? If I get run down by a soulless tanker, that's my risk. I accept it. If I get hit by another sleeping sailor then i guess we both took the risk. I just don't get the outrage. How am I endangering others?


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