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Old 25-01-2011, 17:49   #1
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Sailboat Right of Way

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.

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Bob
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Old 25-01-2011, 17:57   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabend View Post
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.

Thanks,

Bob
The power boat... the skipper as you stated was near the edge of the channel so he should have anticipated the fact that the sailboat would be obliged to tack before running out of water...
I'd have stayed slow and gradually increased power once the sail was passing my bow on the return tack...
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:00   #3
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Correct.
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:02   #4
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Don't know where you are, but in the US a sailboat under power is a powerboat and must give way to a vessel strictly under sail.

That said, it is always best to give any other boat a wide berth. Avoiding problems is always better than trying to figure out who is to blame afterwards.
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:06   #5
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I dunno Boatman...Kinda depends where the wind is coming from, but the Sailboat should pass to the stern of the power boat if possible. Even though a sailboat has right of way it is still obligated to do anything possible to avoid collision.
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:23   #6
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I dunno Boatman...Kinda depends where the wind is coming from, but the Sailboat should pass to the stern of the power boat if possible. Even though a sailboat has right of way it is still obligated to do anything possible to avoid collision.
If the sailboats tacking across the power vessel then I'd say the wind was coming from somewhere on the power boats nose... furthermore once the sailboat went inshore of the other it entered restricted waters... power gives way to port...
or stops...
But I could be wrong...
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:37   #7
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Fairly wide fairway can mean many things but a 45 ft sailboat is likely constrained by draft and could have right of way in a crossing situation. Prudent Rule certainly comes into play here. Dave
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:48   #8
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Originally Posted by rabend View Post
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.

Thanks,

Bob
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.

John
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:59   #9
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The person on the 45 foot sailboat obviously does not know much about sailing. Plus that person changed their speed twice.

Was there a collision? No? Then no fault. Maybe just spilled beers on the powerboat.
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:00   #10
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the sailboat's initial tack was improper. As the stand-on vessel in that crossing, it should have maintained its course and speed, which would have carried it over to the side of the fairway away from the power vessel. In a fairway, the short-tacking sailboat doesn't have the automatic right of way to impede passage of other vessels who constrained to navigate within that fairway. It impeded that passage the moment it caused the power vessel to reduce its speed.
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:16   #11
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If the powerboat actually passed the stern of the sailboat and then the sailboat tacked to come back across the bow then wouldn't it be overtaking? If so then it must give way. There are a few other rules that could apply and more info is probably needed, but my guess from the description and others posts here is that the power boat had right of way.

That being said, I sail out of a marina that shares a basin with a college sailing team/school. We come up with similar situations quite often and I usually give way more than necessary when the wind is blowing from the bay (and other vessels aren't in play) as I realize what a pain it can be to tack out of the basin under sail. The college kids appreciate it, plus they are students and I'd rather not run them over or have them hit me.
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:20   #12
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In the absence of specific rules applying to that fairway, the powered boat is in the wrong , though blame falls on the tacking boat as well.

Dave
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:21   #13
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My sailing instructor said no one has "Right of Way". It is the stand on and the give way. Both boats are burdened to do the right thing. One is to give way the other is to stand-on.
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:23   #14
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The college kids appreciate it, plus they are students and I'd rather not run them over or have them hit me.
You'd prefer to not run over the college kids?

I'd give the demerit points to the 20 footer. To avoid possibility of a collision they should have tacked before crossing in front of the bigger boat and thereby avoiding trouble. Everyone is happy. Except the college kids cause I ran the trouble makers over!
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Old 25-01-2011, 19:37   #15
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You'd prefer to not run over the college kids?

I'd give the demerit points to the 20 footer. To avoid possibility of a collision they should have tacked before crossing in front of the bigger boat and thereby avoiding trouble. Everyone is happy. Except the college kids cause I ran the trouble makers over!
There's too many to run them all down, figured I'd make friends rather than risk the retribution from theirs. Plus my wife would never forgive me, I'd have to hear about how that could be our kids constantly for years.
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