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Old 15-06-2014, 11:15   #16
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

The protest committee says this is not the place for an ego-driven pissing contest about the rules of the road. This is a place for cooperation. Add SUP's in the center of the channel into the mix and you have a typical day in the Santa Cruz yacht harbor channel. Almost everyone here realizes that the colregs were not written with this situation in mind.
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Old 15-06-2014, 11:45   #17
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
The protest committee says this is not the place for an ego-driven pissing contest about the rules of the road. This is a place for cooperation. Add SUP's in the center of the channel into the mix and you have a typical day in the Santa Cruz yacht harbor channel. Almost everyone here realizes that the colregs were not written with this situation in mind.
I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of your post. As to the last sentence, however -- I think that the Colregs deal very well with this situation. The Colregs do not allow you to "insist on your rights" or "get into pissing contests", and "road rage" is totally unacceptable at sea. Being the stand-on vessel doesn't give you any "right of way" -- there's no such thing at sea. You are always obligated to "cooperate" -- you are never relieved of your duty to do everything to avoid a collision. It's very different from the rules of the terrestrial road.


IF the larger boat fell under the 9b rules about being constrained by draft etc., then the OP should not have been tacking up the channel interfering with him. As someone above said -- we may be assuming too much. It may not be a 9b situation at all, in which case the OP had no duty to not interfere -- the normal sailing and steering rules apply.

Even if the OP had no duty to not interfere, however, he had a different duty not to make sudden maneuvers which create a risk of collision. Tacking in close quarters is rife with the possibility of this, and should be avoided if possible. It sounds to me like the OP is at fault at least to some degree in this, with or without a 9b situation.

The larger boat had no right to rush up and create a dangerous situation ("near collision" as described by the OP). He was in any possible case, with or without a 9b situation, burdened by sailing and steering rules to give way when overtaking. He was also burdened to give way to a vessel under sail -- again, with or without a 9b situation. He was also burdened not to navigate in such a way to create a risk of collision. A triple violation on his part.

I think virtually everyone on here has it right -- both skippers at fault to varying degrees, but the skipper of the bigger boat much more at fault, in fact grossly and blatantly.


The "law of tonnage" has a grain of truth to it, but is actually a misleading and dangerous oversimplification -- no substitute for knowing the COLREGS and following them. Sometimes you are obligated to stand on. You can't solve every collision problem by "not insisting on your right of way" [sic -- there's no such thing as right of way at sea] or by "just stay out of the way of the great big scary ships". It's much more complicated, and takes much more work than that, to properly avoid collisions.
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Old 15-06-2014, 11:57   #18
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

A few details to clarify some questions and comments

- the 55 yard channel has a hard boundary on both sides - 55 to 75 foot boats on dock end ties to the left and five foot high rock wall to the right. Deep water extends all the way across the channel

- The requirement to tack was apparent since each time I tacked my bow was within a couple feet of the obstacle ahead

- The overtaking vessel appeared, as I sailed to the left, to be planning to pass while I was on the far left of the channel.

- The other vessel had over a minute of time to complete the pass as I sailed to the left, tacked, and regained speed to sail back to the right.

- see attached diagram

There was never any danger of collision since I was aware of the other boat at all times, my dinghy is very maneuverable and I had control of my boat at all times.

I just want to clarify my understanding because the other captain was a pompous jerk as he berated me in front of his guest.
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Old 15-06-2014, 12:36   #19
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

Nice diagram. In this situation, if I were the power boat I would slow dramatically at C1 and wait for the sailboat to clear before continuing on slowly to my finger.

I think the fairways at MDR are only 100' wide side to side and somehow people make it work even when paddle boarders and kayaks are in the fairway as well. I can't imagine being at the helm of a boat under power and putting the onus on a small sailing vessel in such tight quarters.
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Old 15-06-2014, 12:39   #20
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

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Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
I see this routinely at Marina del Rey. The fairways off the main channel that lead to the fingers and slips are also pretty narrow.

Student boats (22 feet) usually with an instructor on board, tack back and forth in and out of these fairways on a regular basis (I have done this myself many times).

When I'm at the helm of another boat and under power I always give right of way to these little boats under sail. (I am afterall under power and can speed up or slow down much easier than they can). Similarly if/when under sail in one of these small boats in the fairway I have always assumed I had the right of way over power boats moving up or down the fairway but I am always prepared to do what is necessary to avoid a collision, which isn't particularly difficult because those little Capris are pretty nimble.

I think the catamaran skipper is wrong. He is not a fishing boat or commercial boat encumbered by a narrow channel or draft with no room to manuever. He was probably PO'd because you made it inconvenient for him when he was trying to turn out of the fairway and into the finger of his slip/dock. It also sounds like he misjudged the situation by going too fast or too slow and hence created the problem where you had to throw in an extra tack to avoid a collision at the last minute. If it's like Marina del Rey he had options - stop dead in the water until you got out of the way or power up to the end of the fairway and make a U-turn back to his finger. Personally I think that is the crux of debates like this. Since he was under power he had options the sail boat did not.

Maybe I'm way off base here but if I were under power and put my boat in a position where a small sail boat under sail had to avoid me at the last minute like that I'd be screaming, "sorry...my bad".
+1.

There are so many small channels around the marinas in SF and some of these are also deep draft navigation channels that it can get really hairy, but it seems to work when everyone knows the rules AND tries to be accommodating. In the case of a small sailboat and a recreational power boat, the sailboat needs to be given seaway so as not to run into the rocks along the banks and the powerboat needs to recognize they have to power up or power down to time the passageway. Sometimes it is like playing frogger when there are several non-motorized sailboats at the same time making way up a channel. The commercial operators will lay on their horns if they think a sailboat should be able to maneuver out of the way, but I've also seen them move around without complaint when a sailboat seems to be in a bit of distress and can't easily get itself out of the way. It would have been nice in the OP's instance if they both would have tried to communicate more. Seemed like there might have been a bit of ego on both sides that helped exacerbate the problem.
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Old 15-06-2014, 12:58   #21
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

I generally apply the rule of tonnage to most situations, Firmly believing no one on the water knows "the rules".
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Old 15-06-2014, 13:23   #22
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
So what is the opinion of the rules experts here – did I have an expectation of a clear path across the channel while sailing at the speed limit and being over taken?
Every now and then when I'm riding my bicycle, some idiot in a car will insist on passing in front of me before cutting me off, by turning into a driveway or at an intersection; when a sensible driver would simply slow down a little, let the bike clear out of his way and turn behind. From your description, this describes the driver of the cat. Rule 2 fail.

I appreciate Dockhead's praise (blushing) but since I wasn't there it would be hard to give a definitive assessment that's any better than the several well-qualified comments you've already received. My two pennies worth - you weren't impeding; obviously if he managed to get beside you in the channel, he wasn't impeded by you.

While I don't like to get stuck behind someone tacking back and forth, I believe unpowered sailboats have every right to be on the water, and as long as you're being reasonably obvious in your manoeuvres, I don't see it as a great problem. By your account it's not a problem for most other boaters.

The stand-on requirement (rule 17) does not require you to hold to a course and speed that takes you aground or into a rock wall. It has been held in court that changing course to follow the channel or manoeuvres that are in keeping with what's reasonably expected (ie. slowing when coming to a pilot station) does not conflict with rule 17. Tacking back and forth therefore is reasonable and expected. Especially if the cat was a sailing cat motoring, this should have been completely obvious to him.

One aspect that has not been discussed is sound signals. I don't know if the area falls under international rule or inland rules - this is one of those occasions when it makes a difference. Going out on a limb, I assume the cat didn't sound any signals as per rule 9(e)? Inland rules puts it down to power driven vessel overtaking power driven vessel, so not strictly required, but as you could clearly communicate to each other, the onus would have been on him to make his intentions clear and you to give the OK, before he proceeded. In that, it is then assumed that you would do what you could to facilitate the passing, such as lingering on one side rather than tacking back immediately.
Even within the inland regime, it would have been incumbent on the cat to sound 5 short blasts (rule 34(d)) if he felt you were impeding him or he otherwise didn't understand your intentions. No signal means he didn't feel you were impeding him, nor did he seem to require action on your part to enable his passing as per rule 9(e).

Personally I think you had more than enough ammo to give him a thorough dressing down in front of his passengers.
To your question directly - the pertinent rule in this case appears to be rule 13 - the overtaking rule. As per that, once he started to overtake you, the ball was squarely in his court to stay out of your way. He should have reasonably assumed you would tack, and by slowing down he was getting in your way.

While on the topic:
Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
We all know the sailboat and the powerboat are trying to go in the same direction - but- when the sailboat is tacking, can an overtaking situation change into a crossing situation when the sailboat is pointed at the side of the powerboat?
No. Rule 13(d):
Quote:
Any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.
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Old 15-06-2014, 15:56   #23
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

The response so far has been fantastic and very helpful. Just to be clear, I would never exert my right of way to the point of collision. In this case I approached the other vessel to make a point and then tacked away with no chance of collision.

San Diego Bay is full of rental and student operated boats and the sailing out there demands much patience and willingness to forego rights to preserve fiberglass. I sail three or four days a week and have to take evasive action almost every day when I am the stand on vessel engaged with another boat whose skipper does not understand the most basic rules.

Several responses have caused me to have a few more questions.

Dockhead said:

“No, of course not. The 17 foot sailboat should be outside the channel if possible. It surely does not draw more than 50cm of water. If it can't navigate outside the channel, then it should wait, if possible, until traffic constrained bydraft and unable to navigate outside the channel gets by.”

The channel is 16’ deep to it’s full width and then docks or rocks. There is no way to sail in the channel without being in the deeper draft navigable water. My slipway is 550 yards up the channel and I never make it either up or down the channel without encountering at least two other boats, a SUP, a kayak, and yesterday two dogs swimming. At four knots I need over 8-minutes to sail the channel to my slipway.

- HOW does a sail only boat make it up/down that distance/time in a 750 slip marina without tacking or crossing with another boat?

And, not to be a sailing lawyer, my draft is one foot greater than his so I was more restricted in the channel than was the other boat.

Lojanica said:

“If not then I would think the cat had priority due to restricted manoeuvrability with regard to his slip.”

- HOW would I know where his slipway is and why would I assume he was going to turn to port after passing me? I thought that rule 13d was written to prevent exactly this problem.

Additionally the entrance to his slipway was 30 yards past where our near collision event occurred.

Markpierce said:

“I hate when the stand-on vessel makes unexpected maneuvers.”

Vallhalla306 said:
“The issue with short tacking up a channel is it's hard to determine when they will tack next, so there is a burden on the dingy sail boat to take the initiative and make sure it is exceptionally clear what you are doing”

Dockhead said:
“Even if the OP had no duty to not interfere, however, he had a different duty not to make sudden maneuvers which create a risk of collision. Tacking in close quarters is rife with the possibility of this, and should be avoided if possible.”

Those three very similar comments from reasonable and knowledgeable responders make me nervous. Maybe I have been making a bad assumption.

I did not tack close in front of him. He was astern of me when I tacked and 25 yards to my starboard when I started the tack. He saw me sail directly at a dock and knew, having seen me tack at the previous three docks, that I would have to tack away from the dock. My tack was in no way unexpected.

- Is the fundamental problem here that I thought it obvious I was going to tack before I collided with the 100’ long dock, just as I had at the three previous docks, BUT the other captain assumed I would just keep going and jump the dock?
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Old 15-06-2014, 17:59   #24
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
A few details to clarify some questions and comments

- the 55 yard channel has a hard boundary on both sides - 55 to 75 foot boats on dock end ties to the left and five foot high rock wall to the right. Deep water extends all the way across the channel

- The requirement to tack was apparent since each time I tacked my bow was within a couple feet of the obstacle ahead

- The overtaking vessel appeared, as I sailed to the left, to be planning to pass while I was on the far left of the channel.

- The other vessel had over a minute of time to complete the pass as I sailed to the left, tacked, and regained speed to sail back to the right.

- see attached diagram

There was never any danger of collision since I was aware of the other boat at all times, my dinghy is very maneuverable and I had control of my boat at all times.

I just want to clarify my understanding because the other captain was a pompous jerk as he berated me in front of his guest.
Let's assume the "passing maneuver started at A and A1. At that point you had an obligation to maintain heading and speed.

Clearly everyone should know (by assumption) that you can't you must tack.

However at that point I think the pass has started and you need to stay clear.

Later he slows - As you described previously and the diagram shows this is when the "real" risk of collision occurs because had he held speed you probably pass harmlessly to his stern. And my interpretation it is caused by him slowing and turning to port in front of you.

The fact that he's a jerk and all that is interesting but irrelevant.

One could argue that the power boat never had time to start and complete the passing maneuver so never should have attempted it. This was the situation I was in described above. I knew I could not get by and decided not to "barge" in.

Clearly he should have waited had he been courteous.

The problem with most boating conflicts is there really is no "remedy" - The guy in my example was clearly impeding - he should have gotten a "ticket" but that doesn't happen. Big brother only gets involved if paint is swapped or someone gets hurt.

I am not a lawyer and don't play one on tv...

PS - Assuming the letters are aligned by time and the drawing is accurate. At C or D you simply bear away to a reach for 30 seconds and life goes on.

Life's too short to obsess over this...
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Old 15-06-2014, 18:59   #25
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

Was the catamaran a sailboat or a mobo?
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Old 15-06-2014, 19:37   #26
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

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I just want to clarify my understanding because the other captain was a pompous jerk as he berated me in front of his guest.
Don't worry about that, happens to me all the time. If you know your facts and win the debate then you've done your good deed for the day.
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Old 15-06-2014, 21:41   #27
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

For myself, as an overtaking vessel, I would have altered course or slowed down to let you pass in front of me.

That being said, your diagram shows you tacking across the whole width of the channel. To me, every time you are on the outbound side of the channel, you are likely impeding the flow of traffic. I captain commercial passenger vessels in a very narrow channel here in the Houston area, and having sailboats tacking across the whole channel as I'm making my way in the opposite direction has resulted in some of the more dangerous situations I've faced. Please key an eye out for outbound boats and be careful!
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Old 15-06-2014, 22:24   #28
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

the other boat was a Leopard 3800 sailing catamaran under power.

Vallhala360 said:

“I would be really interested in hearing his view of what happened. I suspect, a few of the "facts" would change. Not suggesting the OP is lying just that view points are different.”

That seemed like an interesting idea so I tracked down the captain of the other boat and asked him what rules he thought I violated and why did he think he had the right of way in our near collision?

His answer was very concise:

9b!

He clearly stated and then repeated (the interesting details of his responses are in red):

- A sailboat cannot sail in a narrow channel.
- My vessel had no rights because I was sailing in a narrow channel
- He could pass with no consideration for my course because I was violating Rule 9b and was impeding his passage and therefore forfeited my rights

I asked him how I was impeding his passage. His response was “you were making 3.5 knots up the channel and I wanted to make 5 knots so you were impeding my progress.”

I asked him how to apply Rule 13a, overtaking vessel must stay clear of overtaken vessel, and he was adamant that none of Rule 13 applied as shown below.

I asked him how Rule 13d, overtaking vessel must not alter course to make overtaken vessel the give way vessel, and he was adamant that Rule 13 did not apply as shown below.

I asked him how rule 9e (sound signals required if overtaken vessel must alter course to avoid a collision) and he again said 9e does not apply as shown below.

His answer to each question above was:
- My vessel had no rights because I was sailing in a narrow channel
- My vessel was impeding his passage so he had no obligation to stay clear
- Rule 9e & 13 also did not apply because he was not overtaking


I pointed out that we were both sailing up a narrow channel that I had entered six minutes before him and he had come up to me from behind. I then asked how that could not be overtaking and he said:

- I was tacking up the channel so the overtaking rules in 13 do not apply and he could pass any way he felt was appropriate.

He then said, "even if Rule 13 could be applied, I was never overtaking you."

He then reiterated that the only applicable rule was 9b and there was no overtaking situation.

The captain finished the discussion by saying “I have been a captain since 1982 and am currently a certified instructor for ColRegs, teach classes on a regular basis, and have sailed all the oceans of the world. It is apparent that you do not know your rules.”

I pulled out my Handbook of the Nautical Rules of the Road and asked him to review 9 and 13 with me. He pushed the book away saying “I teach the rules and do not need to review them – but you should study some more.”

So here I am asking for guidance.

Did his reasons have any merit?
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Old 15-06-2014, 22:44   #29
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

Today, a sailboat crossed the path of a car carrier in restricted waters. The ship gave a prolonged blast signifying the raised adrenaline of the pilot or master. I, on the other hand, slowed to a crawl for the ship to pass before crossing the strait toward my berth.



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Old 15-06-2014, 23:04   #30
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Re: Narrow Channel Overtaking and Sailing

First, none of us can know because we can't see the situation as it was unfolding.

Second, sounds like you both were stubborn and determined to exercise whatever rights you thought you had.

You both had an obligation to avoid an accident. You think he should have known what you were doing and had planned. Why? Perhaps it wasn't obvious. He thinks you should have known what he was doing and had planned. Why? You indicate it wasn't obvious.

If I'm in a powerboat, I'm going to try to give the sailboat time to clear and do whatever it has planned. If I'm in the sailboat, I'm going to acknowledge that I may be in the way due to my tacking and by not having power I might have to occasionally just let someone else have extra space.

He obviously knew you were headed right at him and intended to be stubborn and make you back off, but his correction and yielding needed to come earlier. However, it sounds like you realized an issue existed but decided to continue to head in his direction until it became apparent you were going to have to yield way.

I think you were both wrong to jump on the other upon reaching dock. I think it would have been better had you both explained in an apologetic manner.

This is not as clear as a highway intersection with a stop sign or light. The very fact that you get into reg after reg after reg. It's hardly the time to debate colregs. I've yielded hundreds of times to boats that I felt I clearly had right of way over. Boats that cut right in front of me, boats that varied course with me overtaking, boats that took their half of the channel in the middle. I'm boating for relaxation and I just accept it, am glad it wasn't a problem and go on.
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