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View Poll Results: Can you legally sail solo single handed
Yes, as long as you use all available means to keep a look out 66 62.26%
No, all solo sailors are in breach of the Colregs 29 27.36%
The Colregs are intended for two handed sailors not one 3 2.83%
What's the Colregs? 9 8.49%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 106. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-06-2015, 09:31   #46
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Mark took the words from my beak. "quack, quack".

Three or four single handed overnighters in the last few weeks for me. Two of which were seperated by one night at anchor. It is challenging. And then one day later did a two day two night delivery with three on board from Marathon to St. Pete. A week later I'm finally feeling back in normal rythm.

Travelling with good friends on a Westerly right now and did 100+ miles in 24 hours each leg. Wind all night each time as well. Great times.

On the second overnighter in three days we sailed side by side about a quarter mile apart all night long, matching speed perfectly. Couldn't and wouldn't have done it without them there. I did sleep in naps, they watched out for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
The thing I find offensive about all these type threads is its always some 'gatekeeper' trying to stop others enjoying sailing.

Here the arguments against solo sailing are generally by those too gutless to try it themselves, or have some lordy lordy aspect of 'I'm better than you because I have a wife to sail with'... 'You can't sail, but I can'.



To any reading this, or similar threads, who are feeling influenced by the num-nut anti brigade may I sugest you let it drip off like water from a ducks back and go out and have an adventure yourself, by yourself.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:23   #47
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Dockhead said:

A collision simply cannot take place without violations on BOTH sides. That is why both skippers are always at fault when a collision takes place at sea...

Please consider this (among many other possible
circumstances):

I'm keeping a proper watch on my boat with no
engine but let's say radar and AIS and we become
fogbound with no wind, thus no maneuverability.
A singlehander who went to sleep before the fog
set in rams my boat. How is it that I'm at fault?

All boats underway must have an operator who
is not asleep. Pretty clear to me.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:33   #48
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by jongleur View Post
Dockhead said:

A collision simply cannot take place without violations on BOTH sides. That is why both skippers are always at fault when a collision takes place at sea...

Please consider this (among many other possible
circumstances):

I'm keeping a proper watch on my boat with no
engine but let's say radar and AIS and we become
fogbound with no wind, thus no maneuverability.
A singlehander who went to sleep before the fog
set in rams my boat. How is it that I'm at fault?

All boats underway must have an operator who
is not asleep. Pretty clear to me.
This is a good example which reveals that this maxim about the COLREGS -- that both skippers are always at fault -- is not 100% true, even if it is true in 99.9% of cases and thus a valuable illustration of how they work.

In my opinion, going to sea without an engine creates more risks than sleeping with no one on deck, at least if the single hander has radar guard zones and AIS alarms set. But it is clearly legal to sail without an engine. Not quite fair, in my opinion.

But to answer your question -- yes, if there was absolutely nothing under any circumstances, no action of any kind whatsoever, which you could have possibly done to prevent the accident, then this will be the exceptionally rare case where only one skipper is at fault.

As to "All boats underway must have an operator who
is not asleep. Pretty clear to me." See Estarzinger's excellent explanation above of the different interpretations of the Rules on this point. Your interpretation, which is "pretty clear to you", is probably the most defensible one, and I tend towards it myself. But it is by no means the only possible, legitimate interpretation of the Rules.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:35   #49
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Eisberg View Post
Nicely put a nutshell, as always...

Seems the only aspect of this issue that has yet to be debated ad nauseum here, is how dependent the "legality/illegality" of singlehanded passagemaking might be upon whether one is sailing a "Bluewater" or "Production" boat...

:-)
Seems obvious that the Bluewater boat would have the ability to take care of itself, thereby insuring that all potential collisions are avoided (assuming a proper refit has been done, that is). Whereas the Production boat would most definitely be able to sail out of harm's way (provided the keel & rudder have been dutifully inspected). As for the legality of singlehanding a Production Bluewater boat, now that's getting rather overly complicated, no?
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:48   #50
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Thanks Dockhead. That is what I was taught and believe to be true. It is why I didn't singlehand any more than absolutely necessary.

You just cannot keep a proper lookout when you are asleep. You can do a lifetime of singlehanding and never have a collision but that doesn't mean you had a proper lookout each time you went out.

I'm not doing the poll because it doesn't really cover a block I'd check.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:07   #51
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
This is a good example which reveals that this maxim about the COLREGS -- that both skippers are always at fault -- is not 100% true, even if it is true in 99.9% of cases and thus a valuable illustration of how they work.
Perhaps a good example of the 99.9% of cases you cite where both skippers are at fault was the case off the US Carolinas awhile back when a singlehanded sailor was run down from behind by a large commercial freighter. It was undisputed that the freighter had failed to maintain an adequate watch. But it was also undisputed that the singlehanded sailor was asleep down below at the time of the incident (he survived, apparently). Given the undisputed absence of a proper watch on the freighter, along with the fact that the sailboat was run down from behind, the sailor brought a civil suit against the shipping co. The suit failed, with the court finding that both skippers were at fault under the Colregs for failing to maintain an adequate watch. In other words, and as Dockhead has explained, the court reasoned that if either skipper had been maintaining a proper watch, the collision could have been avoided. This fact pattern & result may seem counterintutitive to a layman's sense of "fault," and it is possible that the respective liabilities were subsequently apportioned, but it struck me as a good illustration of how the Colregs are designed to work.

As an aside, and given Dockhead's previous explanation about how the Colregs are implemented by signatory states, my guess (without having read any opinion which may have been published on the case) is that private parties to a lawsuit do not have direct enforcement powers under the Colregs, but that authority is bestowed instead on signatory states as delegated to their regulatory agencies, for e.g. the USCG. It is more likely a civil court would merely reference the Colregs as evidence of a standard of care on the high seas in order to determine whether individual parties have negligently violated those standards. This is different from the sorts of fines (and jail time, obviously) that only a govt.'l body can lawfully impose.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:39   #52
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
Well, this is the most bizarre statement I've seen to date. So, if I follow this logic,

Rule 5 you don't have to keep a look out if there is no risk of collision.
You don't have to display any lights, or have anything to do with sound signals.
You don't need to follow the distress signals

Have you thought this out at all?
My statement was what it was and my statement ended where it ended. What followed was your assumptions, not mine. You can assume whatever you want, just please do not claim what you are assuming is somebody else's logic. This would be one assumption too far.

If you want to label bizarre things you hear from someone who studied the maritime law and who holds a merchant navy deck officer rating then you are free to palmhead till the end of this thread.

Have a fine day,
b.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:48   #53
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Perhaps a good example of the 99.9% of cases you cite where both skippers are at fault was the case off the US Carolinas awhile back when a singlehanded sailor was run down from behind by a large commercial freighter. It was undisputed that the freighter had failed to maintain an adequate watch. But it was also undisputed that the singlehanded sailor was asleep down below at the time of the incident (he survived, apparently). Given the undisputed absence of a proper watch on the freighter, along with the fact that the sailboat was run down from behind, the sailor brought a civil suit against the shipping co. The suit failed, with the court finding that both skippers were at fault under the Colregs for failing to maintain an adequate watch. In other words, and as Dockhead has explained, the court reasoned that if either skipper had been maintaining a proper watch, the collision could have been avoided. This fact pattern & result may seem counterintutitive to a layman's sense of "fault," and it is possible that the respective liabilities were subsequently apportioned, but it struck me as a good illustration of how the Colregs are designed to work.

As an aside, and given Dockhead's previous explanation about how the Colregs are implemented by signatory states, my guess (without having read any opinion which may have been published on the case) is that private parties to a lawsuit do not have direct enforcement powers under the Colregs, but that authority is bestowed instead on signatory states as delegated to their regulatory agencies, for e.g. the USCG. It is more likely a civil court would merely reference the Colregs as evidence of a standard of care on the high seas in order to determine whether individual parties have negligently violated those standards. This is different from the sorts of fines (and jail time, obviously) that only a govt.'l body can lawfully impose.
Every country has separate bodies of law for matters between you and the state – criminal and administrative law – and matters between different people – civil law.

The COLREGS are primarily about you and the state – you must do that, you must not do that, etc., with criminal and/or administrative penalties applied under separate domestic legislation. But if a person is harmed because of some other person’s violation of the COLREGS, then this can form the basis for a civil matter, too, just like in the case of violations of traffic laws on land.
For this kind of matter, the primary source of law is going to be domestic tort law; the violation of the COLREGS will be only one aspect of the situation. Different countries have completely different systems for this (Continental countries make tort law a branch of a broader law of “obligations”), but in Common Law countries, these matters will be mostly based on negligence or violation of some other duty, with violation of COLREGS as one indicator of this negligence or violation. I’m not a maritime lawyer and so don’t know the practice, but I would guess that because of the fact that the COLREGS do not make the avoidance of a collision the clear-cut duty of one, rather than the other party, it must be very hard to recover damages in tort for ship collisions.

Note that the word “civil” is used in a confusing variety of ways, to mean very different things. U.S. law provides for “civil penalties” for COLREGS violations, but that does not mean that they are derived from civil law. They are derived, rather, from administrative law. The are called “civil” penalties to emphasize that they are not criminal, and thus not subject to proof beyond a reasonable doubt or other protections of criminal accused – and there is lingering doubt about the constitutionality of these “civil penalties”, by the way. “Civil law” also means something completely different from what that refers to in common law countries – it is also used to refer to non-English legal systems based on Roman law – “civil law” as opposed to “common law”. Yeah, I know, it’s really confusing.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:53   #54
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

So the arcane legal point which hasn't yet been brought up in this thread is jurisdiction.

The reason why it's not illegal to single-hand in international waters is that there is no legal authority with the jurisdiction to make it illegal in international waters.

That said, the COLREGs including rule 5 are enforced as law for vessels flagged by nations that are signatories to the IMO, so this is a very arcane legal point that doesn't apply to most everyone reading this post.

I just felt that in order to argue this ad nauseaum, it is important to understand that there can be vessels to whom the COLREGs do not apply.

With the exception of certain criminal acts such as piracy, where Universal Jurisdiction applies, no criminal law applies and certainly no civil law applies because no country has jurisdiction.

Universal Jurisdiction, which the International Criminal Court claims but which is not recognized by numerous states including the United States, is limited to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Claims of Universal Jurisdiction by individual states are limited to acts so serious that they are considered crimes against all, which is where piracy stands.

The IMO, which publishes the COLREGs, has no jurisdiction (it is not a court) and enforcement proceeds through its 170-odd member states in their national waters--but not in international waters, where those member states have no jurisdiction.

The U.N. has no court other than the ICC, and does not exercise jurisdiction over anything else.

Ships are subject to the law of the land of their flag nation --but ships need not have a flag nation-- and not all nations are signatories to the IMO. For signatories to the IMO, COLREGs apply internationally on their flagged vessels.

The bottom line is that single-handing in international waters is not universally illegal in international waters because there is no universal authority to make it illegal. If you are on an un-flagged vessel (or, for example, a Mongolian flagged vessel) in international waters, sleep away. You're not breaking any law.

The IMO convention only applies to 96.53% of world shipping tonnage, so there's a 3.5% chance that that freighter bearing down on you in international waters doesn't have to change course.

But it's probably illegal for you :-)
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:59   #55
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Dockhead --

The various laws & how they are enforced in different nations & jurisdictions is indeed confusing. Your explanation was actually quite clear, however. So thanks.
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Old 09-06-2015, 13:08   #56
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
So the arcane legal point which hasn't yet been brought up in this thread is jurisdiction.

The reason why it's not illegal to single-hand in international waters is that there is no legal authority with the jurisdiction to make it illegal in international waters.

That said, the COLREGs including rule 5 are enforced as law for vessels flagged by nations that are signatories to the IMO, so this is a very arcane legal point that doesn't apply to most everyone reading this post.

I just felt that in order to argue this ad nauseaum, it is important to understand that there can be vessels to whom the COLREGs do not apply.

With the exception of certain criminal acts such as piracy, where Universal Jurisdiction applies, no criminal law applies and certainly no civil law applies because no country has jurisdiction.

Universal Jurisdiction, which the International Criminal Court claims but which is not recognized by numerous states including the United States, is limited to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Claims of Universal Jurisdiction by individual states are limited to acts so serious that they are considered crimes against all, which is where piracy stands.

The IMO, which publishes the COLREGs, has no jurisdiction (it is not a court) and enforcement proceeds through its 170-odd member states in their national waters--but not in international waters, where those member states have no jurisdiction.

The U.N. has no court other than the ICC, and does not exercise jurisdiction over anything else.

Ships are subject to the law of the land of their flag nation --but ships need not have a flag nation-- and not all nations are signatories to the IMO. For signatories to the IMO, COLREGs apply internationally on their flagged vessels.

The bottom line is that single-handing in international waters is not universally illegal in international waters because there is no universal authority to make it illegal. If you are on an un-flagged vessel (or, for example, a Mongolian flagged vessel) in international waters, sleep away. You're not breaking any law.

The IMO convention only applies to 96.53% of world shipping tonnage, so there's a 3.5% chance that that freighter bearing down on you in international waters doesn't have to change course.

But it's probably illegal for you :-)
Arcane indeed. With all the items one must account for when sailing singlehanded, I bet most are willing to take their chances with the 3.47%. Fortunately, most of the Colregs are pretty intuitive & make basic common sense, especially for a small recreational vessel. To the extent there's conflict or confusion, most sailors can always fall back on . . . well, intuition & common sense!
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Old 09-06-2015, 13:50   #57
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
I vote for number 2 as "appropriate in the prevailing circumstances..." The circumstances being single handed.
The "prevailing circumstances" here in question are not about single-handed sailing - that clearly IS legal. The problem comes when the "prevailing circumstances" changes to "single-handed AND asleep".

How does the solo sailor maintain an effective watch for traffic when he/she is below and unconscious? That's a simple impossibility. Even a RADAR system that sounds an alarm when it detects a moving target is only effective IF the other vessel gives a return - and many wood and FRP boats don't, or give a very weak one.

SO my answer is I won't solo for longer than I can be awake and alert enough to keep watch. Trouble is, I'm not perfect, and it's possible I might miss a converging target even though I'm awake and looking. If the solo sailor on that other boat is asleep, there's no chance he'll see me when I don't see him, so that element of redundancy is missing.
Let's say he hits me. I was following the rules, keeping the best watch I knew how, but made an error and didn't see him. He was not following the rules. Now who is more at fault?
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Old 09-06-2015, 14:11   #58
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

One thing's for certain, there seems to be no shortage of folks with vivid imaginations out there... Hell, if it's not legions of singlehanders disappearing without a trace in mid-ocean after being run down by ships, it's sleeping singlehanders T-boning others while running in 'Stealth Mode', invisible to radar, and without transmitting AIS...

:-)

I think anyone who has sailed in or followed a Rally like the ARC or Caribbean 1500, probably realizes the likelihood of a collision with another fully crewed participant the first day or two out is FAR greater than a random encounter with some solo sailor in a little tub like mine... :-) Amazing how many close calls there have been over the years in the ARC, for instance...

Anyway, it's all those CONTAINERS floating around out there that are gonna get you... And if not one of those, then it will probably be a METEORITE...

:-)
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Old 09-06-2015, 14:29   #59
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

Too say that one doesn't have to maintain a lookout "when there is no risk of collision" is silly. The only way a crew can know there is no risk of collision is if there is a proper lookout. Without a lookout how is one to know there is no risk of collision?
And yes, I often sail singlehanded, including between San Francisco and Hawaii. When I napped and when I was below I was in violation of the COLREGS. I knew it and I accepted the FACT that IF I were to be involved in a collision I would be at fault. I accepted that risk. But it WAS a risk. Anytime one gets out of bed there is a risk. Some activities involve a risk that is greater or less than the risk associated with other activities and/or conditions. We all must decide just how much risk we're willing to accept. But absolutely nothing that a human can do does not have ANY associated risk. Nothing.
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Old 09-06-2015, 15:56   #60
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Re: All about the Colregs no 3 - single handed sailing and keeping a look out

All of Barnakiel's posts are correct. Not prohibited, then free to solo sail. If you do have a collision (and it would only be a serious collision) then insurers/prosecutors will interpret the regs to fit their argument. At that point, yes, you are at risk of being ruled by a court to have failed to comply and therefore liable (just one of the many risks we run all the time in daily life). Sail free, sail well all you solo sailors.
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