Originally Posted by rabend
A 45 foot sailboat is under power moving down the right side of a fairly wide fairway. The vessel under power slows as a 20 foot sailboat tacks from port to starboard directly across its bow. After the small boat passes and is well to starboard, the larger boat speeds up to cross behind the smaller boat's stern. The smaller boat under sail then tacks back across the channel in the opposite direction directly in front of the vessel under power creating immediate danger in a crossing situation. I would appreciate thoughts on who is at fault.
What do you mean by fairway? A vessel cannot impede a vessel constrained to a fairway. Were you constrained?
(d) A vessel shall not cross a narrow passage or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within such channel or fairway. The latter vessel may use the sound signal prescribed in Rule 34(d) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing vessel.
As the give way vessel the sailboat is required to hold course and speed, and tacking in front of someone is not holding course and speed so then you might have ROW. But if the fairway constrains the 20 footer as well, and you're already on the right side of the fairway and he sails
to the right side of you it's apparent that he is not going to be able to continue that course.
(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.
I think you could also use the above rule to argue that the 20 footer should have tacked before crossing your path.
In the end, the rules are about avoiding collisions. If you have one they usually dole out blame to both parties. The few cases I know about almost evenly. You can be pissed all you want, but even if the rules say you had ROW, if you nailed him it's still your fault too. That's why they have the catchall, do what you have to to avoid collision.
One the cases was a friend on starboard. A port tack boat hit him. The starboard boat was 40% responsible for not maintaining a proper watch.