Originally Posted by Ex-Calif
Now that we've cleared that up...
None of that makes you right.
You were both wrong. I judge him more so because he created the risk of collision event by slowing and turning in front of you - but that is my opinion. If this really went to court who knows what would come out of it.
Also "rights" are not something you have and can lose, like a wallet.
Even if you could lose your rights that doesn't mean he can now violate the regs.
Imagine on land...
"Aha. That guy is speeding. Quick Martha get the shotgun! He's lost
his rights to not be murdered..."
This is a perfect analysis!
First of all, there's no 9b situation here, so all the ordinary rules apply. He is not constrained by draft
, so forget all of that. We wasted our time on that part of the analysis.
Ex-Calif hits the nail on the head
, however -- all of his wrongness does not make you right. You used the phrase "right of way" -- you need to lose that. There's no such thing in the Colregs. The idea of stand-on vessel and give-way vessel does not confer any "right of way" on anyone. It merely establishes the sequence of maneuvering. In a way, the stand-on vessel is actually the one more burdened, because he is not allowed to maneuver during part of the collision avoidance process.
Remember Rule 2, which in many ways is the most important rule of all:
(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case
(b) In construing and complying with these rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation
and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these rules necessary to avoid immediate danger
Commentary from Wikipedia: "[Rule 2 is sometimes referred to as the "General Prudential" rule and provides for non-conformance with stated rules to prevent a collision, because what is paramount is to avoid or minimise the damaging effects of a collision, as opposed to blindly following the rules to the letter. The overall intent is to minimise actual collision taking place rather than rule compliance in and of itself, per se.]"
In my opinion, both of you violated this. He violated it grossly and blatantly with maneuvers which were unnecessary, made purely out of obnoxiousness, and which increased the risk of collision. If I were the judge, I would throw the book at him. It's one thing to violate a rule out of carelessness or ignorance; altogether a different one to intentionally create a dangerous situation just out of meanness. I would have his license
-- I really would.
But I think as Ex-Calif pointed out, tacking across the whole width of the channel, even without a Rule 9b situation, and ignoring traffic behind, doing nothing to let it pass, is a violation of Rule 2. Tacking a small boat when other vessels are nearby is particularly heinous in my book because larger, less agile vessels can't predict what you're going to do and may not be able to avoid you. They can't plan a safe crossing with a small boat which is tacking.
The seamanlike way to deal with these situations is to be considerate of other traffic and do everything to make traffic work smoothly. The whole idea of "right of way" should be tossed overboard
-- it has no place whatsoever at sea. Standing-on and giving-way is a dance -- if the other vessel is not dancing, then clear out, wait, go around, heave-to, or whatever. It's not like being on the road. If you see that your presence is causing another vessel difficulty, then do something to help out the other skipper
. Get out of the way, heave to, wait, change course, whatever. If the other skipper
is a jerk or doesn't know the rules -- don't worry about it -- it's not your problem. Smile and wave, get out of his way, keep clear, let him pass on. This is not just good manners, good style, and good seamanship, it is required
by Rule 2. Never, never, never just proceed on your way heedless of the problems of the other skipper, just because you think he's supposed to give way. The COLREGS don't work like that. An argument about who is supposed to give way simply never occurs between two skippers with a reasonable level of seamanship.