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Old 16-06-2014, 20:39   #76
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
If we are going to insist that a 17 ft sailboat is somehow "impeding" a 38 ft PDV, then I would like to know how that is determined? At what point do we make the distinction? What if Tacoma was beating up the channel in his 17 ft boat, and buddy came up behind in the exact same type of 17 ft boat, but with the sails put away and being pushed by a little 1 Hp kicker - is Tacoma impeding him?
(b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel [which | that] can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

- Both vessels are less than 20 meters
- One is a sailing vessel
- Both can only navigate safely in the channel - there are rocks on one side and a dock on the other.

But why single out sailing vessels? Doesn't "A vessel of less than 20 meters..." cover both? No, becuase it is an "or" statement.

A vessel of less than 20 meters in length shall not impede...

A sailing vessel (of any length) shall not impede...

In this case neither shall impede the other in my opinion.

So if one boat can travel straight up as near as practicable to the right side at 5 knots (posted channel speed) and the other has to tack back and forth using the whole channel (both incoming and outgoing side) the likelihood of that vessel impeding someone is much higher.

Which puts a fine point on it.

If the cat had completed the pass and reduced speed to 1 knot and had not started a turn to port.

Did a new passing situation now exist in which the cat was burdened to hold course and speed (1 knot no turn) and the passing boat (sailboat) now required to keep clear?
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:13   #77
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

As I posted in the other thread, I think the verbage of 9(b) is very unusual and most likely incomplete:

b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel [which | that] can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

what does "can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway" mean? We know that both boats can navigate safely outside a narrow channel or fairway - they presumably sail (or motor) in open water.

I think the intent of 9(b) is most likely something along the lines of:

b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel [which | that] can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway designated by rule or custom for it's specific use.

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Old 16-06-2014, 21:18   #78
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by avb3 View Post
The COLREGS are there for a reason, and a significant part of that reason is that each vessel knows what to expect from the other one.
And, as this thread clearly demonstrates, there is so much slack in the colregs that given a sailboat and a powerboat in a narrow channel, both skippers having read the colregs, they both arrived at completely different conclusions, and the end result was that neither "knows what to expect from the other."
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:22   #79
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day all,

An interesting discussion overall, despite the lack of consensus of interpretation.

I would like to ask a slightly divergent question: In the normal practice of seamen, is it reasonable to expect an exchange of whistle signals between any vessel and a 17 foot engineless dinghy? Between any vessel and a 38 foot sailing catamaran? And in particular, between a cruising yacht and a merchant vessel?

In my experience as a seaman, this is essentially never observed, nor IMO is it practicable. First, in the case of the dinghy, most such craft do not have a functional whistle (nor a VHF as was suggested somewhere upthread). In fact, while many cruising yachts carry a sound device for making fog signals, these whistles or horns are not very good for intership signalling. For sure, no cruising yachts carry horns loud enough to be heard on the bridge of a ship.

So, in the discussion about tacking up the fairway, was the suggestion of exchange of whistle signals reasonable? Is it a reasonable expectation at sea? I personally don't think it is, and my observation is that it is not practiced in the real world. I wonder what others, especially the professionals who hold us in such contempt, think about this?

Cheers,

Jim
From the rules:
Quote:
33(b) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length shall not be obliged to carry the sound signaling appliances prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule but if she does not, she shall be provided with some other means of making an efficient signal.
Since I first mentioned signals, I'll chime in. The point I was making in bringing up sound signals, is that the cat skipper was claiming he was impeded, yet he didn't use the prescribed signals for use in a narrow channel. If nothing else, he should have sounded 5 short (34(d)). The fact that he didn't tends to suggest he was not impeded, and more importantly, he was not following the rules as required. Not egregious by itself, but the fellow apparently self-identifies as an expert on the rules.

The handheld signals are certainly useful. If in a dinghy and that is not practical, then a whistle, which is a very useful add-on to your lifejacket, should suffice. You are required to have them, so why not use them?
I also stated that the situation in question could have been handled conversationally.

Signals from a cruising yacht to a commercial vessel are almost always going to be made in close proximity - less than 1 mile. The sound level from the handhelds is more than adequate to be heard at that range, but it does depend on the commercial vessel maintaining good listening practices - not a given. Bridge doors closed, engine noise, radio playing etc. not going to help. I assume most commercial guys don't bother signalling to small boats, because they assume (with good reason) that the small boats won't understand. That said I did respond to a 9(e) signal from a ferry in Charleston, so it does happen. I used a handheld.
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:28   #80
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

If I was in the motoring catamaran, I would have come astern as the sailboat made a tack to starboard, and then passed him to my starboard. I've never known sailboats to make sound signals for maneuvering, whether they were sailing or motoring. If in my motorboat and felt the tacking sailboat might not understand my intention, I would have blown two shorts to signal that intention. I wouldn't expect the sailboat to similarly respond because sailboats don't signal, but they sometimes wave.
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:35   #81
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
... I assume most commercial guys don't bother signalling to small boats, because they assume (with good reason) that the small boats won't understand. ...
Not true. The last two times out I heard ships make a prolonged signal (here I am, watch out!) when sailboats were closely approaching. Yesterday when a sailboat closely crossed the bow of a car carrier:



And two weeks ago when a tanker made a prolonged signal approaching a racing flotilla.




In both cases, the ships were in a "narrow" channel (Carquinez Strait).
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:37   #82
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
In this case neither shall impede the other in my opinion.
So if one boat can travel straight up as near as practicable to the right side at 5 knots (posted channel speed) and the other has to tack back and forth using the whole channel (both incoming and outgoing side) the likelihood of that vessel impeding someone is much higher.

Which puts a fine point on it.
IMO, neither vessel could impede the other. Both could use the entire width of the channel. A 17-ft boat or for that matter, a 38-ft cat could not block the entire width of a 55 yard wide channel.

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Did a new passing situation now exist in which the cat was burdened to hold course and speed (1 knot no turn) and the passing boat (sailboat) now required to keep clear?
This is specifically dealt with in 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 16-06-2014, 21:46   #83
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Not true. The last two times out I heard ships make a prolonged signal (here I am, watch out!) when sailboats were closely approaching. Yesterday when a sailboat closely crossed the bow of a car carrier...
You're kind of making my point. One long signal is not described in the rules for these situations. They're just leaning on the horn, like they're on the freeway, expecting that's what the WAFI will understand.
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Old 16-06-2014, 22:04   #84
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
what does "can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway" mean? We know that both boats can navigate safely outside a narrow channel or fairway - they presumably sail (or motor) in open water.

I think the intent of 9(b) is most likely something along the lines of:

b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel [which | that] can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway designated by rule or custom for it's specific use.


This doesn't make sense to me.

All boats can safely navigate outside of channels - i.e. in open water.

To me the interpretation must be "The vessel has to use this channel here."

There are dredged channels. Deep draft boats must use the channel or run aground. Skiffs and dinghy's can safely pass outside the channel.

In this case both must use the channel. There is no other water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
IMO, neither vessel could impede the other. Both could use the entire width of the channel. A 17-ft boat or for that matter, a 38-ft cat could not block the entire width of a 55 yard wide channel.
I don't think impeding is "blocking"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
This is specifically dealt with in 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.
I am "finally past and clear." Actually in this situation I am past and clear on the right side of the channel and the sailing vessel is actually behind my port quarter, on starboard tack (heading away from me) and 55 yards away on the left side of the channel about to tack to port and come back at me - but I have no way of really knowing that. The docks are on that side. He could be planning to raft up with someone.

I am not obligated to be a mind reader of what that guy plans to do. I react to what he does and apply my understanding of the rules.

In aircraft traffic parlance in this situation the controller would say, "Traffic no longer a factor"

Until he tacks back at me...
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Old 16-06-2014, 23:02   #85
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

It becomes exponentially more complicated/worrisome when more than two vessels are involved.
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Old 16-06-2014, 23:19   #86
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
This doesn't make sense to me.

All boats can safely navigate outside of channels - i.e. in open water.

To me the interpretation must be "The vessel has to use this channel here."
I think it is also implied (or at least inferred by me) to mean that the vessel not to be impeded is a large commercial vessel, not a recreational vessel out for a daysail or in a fairway heading back to it's slip or dock.
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Old 16-06-2014, 23:58   #87
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
IMO, neither vessel could impede the other. Both could use the entire width of the channel. A 17-ft boat or for that matter, a 38-ft cat could not block the entire width of a 55 yard wide channel.



This is specifically dealt with in rule 13(d):
13(d) was the rule I was looking for last night, but couldn't remember because I was tired.

13(d) reallly puts the onus on the cat skipper. Because he was the overtaking vessel when the OP was on one tack, he remains the overtaking vessel when the OP goes to the other tack. At no point does the Cat become a crossing vessel.

Since that is the case, we can then look at what the OP was doing to "impede" the CAT.

The CAt skipper mentioned speed - the OP was only making 3.5 knots effective speed towards the end of the channel and the Cat wanted to amke 5 knots. But rule 6:

6. Safe speed
Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

Requries that the Cat maintains a safe speed in relation to the other traffic. Going 5 knots in a narrow channel where the other traffic is only making 3.5 knots, puts the onus of responsibility squarely again on the Cat skippers shoulders.

Finally, As I read this, the Cat passed, slowed and started a turn in front of a tacking boat. Stopping and making a turn, means the Cat is now impeding the progress of the OP.

Someone further up mentioned that the Cat skipper had no way to know for certain thta the OP was going to tack back at him, because it was possible for the Op to just raft up at the dock on the other side of the channel.

It would seem to me that here rule 2 comes into play. The prudent skipper, if in a quandry about the OP's intentions to tack back or dock, will slow and wait until he sees an obvious sign of the OP's intentions (dropping of sails, tacking etc). The CAt skipper didn't do that, but decided to "assert his rights", an action that already puts him squarely in violation of rule 2.

Flogging round the fleet for the Cat skipper, 2 dozen at the grate for the OP

Actually, the most interesting part of this discussion is the actual discussion. Some on this thread feel that the difference of opinion is a weakness of the colregs, wanting them to be completely clear and concise, assigning 100% of the blame in every imaginable situation. This is obviously impossible, the regs book would then fill a few million pages.
I suspect that many of those that expound their wish for exact and firm rules do so because they do not know nor understand the colregs. Which in itself is a bit scary - because i firmly believe that anyone venturing out on the water, should have (at least) a basic knowledge of the colregs. Many do not, as can be seen on any given sunday on the water.
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Old 17-06-2014, 00:12   #88
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
And, as this thread clearly demonstrates, there is so much slack in the colregs that given a sailboat and a powerboat in a narrow channel, both skippers having read the colregs, they both arrived at completely different conclusions, and the end result was that neither "knows what to expect from the other."
No, the COLREGS do not have "much slack" as you say.

I do concur that skippers interpret them incorrectly. I know when I am out it is not instinctive to me, and I constantly am reminding myself of what applies in what situation. I often go back and debrief myself by reviewing the applicable rules, how I acted, how the other vessel acted, especially if the other vessel was helmed by what should be a professional.

Using the VHF radio and asking for intentions is not unheard of.
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Old 17-06-2014, 00:16   #89
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

IN SUMMARY?

What I have learned here is the same as I learned in dozens of protest committee hearings I attended while skippering IOR boats in Washington and California.

There are many interpretations of complex, poorly written, or incomplete rules that are intended to guide steering and maneuvering of boats. What seems crystal clear to one captain is clearly understood by the other captain to be something quite different.

I find little or no consensus in the 80 or so responses to the questions raised in this thread.

As a final data point that shows how difficult it would be to create a hard and fast rule for this situation:
- un-powered sailing dinghy tacking hard on the wind up a narrow channel
- dinghy is making 3.5 knots up the 5-knot channel (VMG to channel head)
- dinghy is crossing the entire channel in about two minutes at 45 degrees to channel centerline
- overtaking boat under power is making 5-knots
- overtaking boat is 6 yards wide in 55 yard wide channel

Just a minute before the conflict I was passed by a 52’ powerboat with a beam of 15’ and draft of 4’ 6”. A professional captain skippered that 52’ boat with the two owners and families onboard with him. The skipper, who has 20-years experience as full time 100-ton captain, came by my boat this evening to talk about what he observed. He was close enough to plainly hear me hail the other boat asking for his intentions. I only know the captain to say hello as he operates many large boats out of this marina. The captain is only a powerboat guy and has no interest in sailboats.

His comments

- As his boat approached my dinghy from astern at 5-knots he assumed the Rule 18 relationship existed and was certain he was the overtaking vessel per Rule 13
- He did not feel that my 3.5 knot dinghy impeded his passage in any way because the channel is 10 times wider than his beam and is 16' deep in the full width
- He saw that I would cross the channel to the right and then tack back to the left
- He said he slowed to four knots for about 10 seconds to allow me to pass ahead, per Rule 18, then resumed five knots and passed astern of me while staying just to port of the channel centerline
- He said his course deviation to pass astern of me was about 10 degrees for a couple seconds
- By the time I had tacked on the right side of the channel and regained speed heading to the left side his boat was 20 yards ahead of my course passing astern of him
- He did not feel that my tacking close to the docks or rocks presented a “sudden” change of course relative to his course. He saw it would take me about 45 to 55 seconds to complete the tack and sail back to the middle of the channel. That gave him plenty of time to change speed or maneuver
- He could see no reason a powerboat should expect a sailboat to alter course in the situation I describe because the channel is so wide relative to the beam of either boat.
- He has encountered hundreds of boats sailing in the channel and never felt that Rule 9b, impeding, was a controlling rule
- the near collision occurred when the other boat slowed suddenly after trying to pass. IF he had held his speed I would have passed astern

I know obviously knowledgeable and experienced boaters will disagree with the observer captain's reasoning and opinions offered above. I will be very careful in the future to remember that what I thought were very clear and easily understood rules are really open to a wide variety of thoughtful interpretation.

My sailing behavior, and attitude, will be adjusted to account for the variety of possible interpretations – even when I am 100% certain I am correct!

Thanks for all the great and insightful responses. I have learned a great deal here
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Old 17-06-2014, 01:49   #90
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Re: When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Wow! you guys are all a bit touchy!!! Island Hopper, I think you are trying to be a bit confrontational. These guys are trying to sort out a very sensible proper solution to a reasonable question. They are not demanding right of way and seem to all display good manners and good seamanship but when two boats are in a confined channel and both are under way there is little time for platitude and niceties, rather there is just enough time to do the right thing. It is imperative that both boats take the correct action to ensure there is no collision.

That said, let me expand the hypothetical situation.

A very likely situation is a yacht whose motor has failed and must return home to port by sail power alone up a busy narrow channel. If there are lots of boats using the channel under power and the sailing boat is trying to get up the channel into the wind it is very restricted and if the sail boat tried to luff up they could stall and then pay off down wind. Worse still, if they do not tack with speed, a cruising boat might not even successfully complete the tack and could then end up on the rocks. In such a limited channel they do not have room for errors and without an engine I would say that they are restricted in their ability to manoeuvre and all other vessels should keep clear.

True too is that some power boats stopping or slowing down in a confined channel may also lose steerage and be limited in their ability to manoeuvre especially if there is a counter current flowing.

In my view the sailing boat should hold her course and tack when appropriate to do so and the power boat should wait for her to pass then overtake astern before the sail boat is far enough across the channel to have to tack again. This requires good timing and good manners by both parties.

One more thing, as the gentleman said that both boats were small yachts with one under power and one under sail then what if the one under power was a long keeled boat with keel hung rudder; if he slows down too much he could lose way and would not be able to reverse to correct or regain steerage as boats with such an underwater configuration often cannot be controlled astern (that is why we keep away from marinas). In this case perhaps the boat under sail, if of the racing type ie fin keel and skeg hung rudder, might well be the easier boat to control and therefore be the best boat to give-way.

Food for thought?
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