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Old 16-06-2014, 01:10   #1
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When is a Boat Passing from Behind not Overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

My life has been full of my errors in judgment, fact, and execution. I have always tried to learn something positive from each error or mistake I committed.

The thread I started about sailing in a narrow channel and my discussion with the other captain brought to mind a very interesting question.

Situation:
I was sailing up a channel in which the centerline is 650 yards long and is on a heading of 277°. The wind was blowing directly down the channel. My course on starboard tack was 232° and on port tack was 332°. My CMG was obviously 277 because I had been in the channel for six minutes.

The other captain claimed he was not overtaking me as he motored on a course of 277°. He claimed he was on a crossing course. I asked how that could be when he entered the 55 yard wide channel six minutes after I did and proceeded up the centerline of the channel.

He then said he was not overtaking me because I was tacking and even though my mean course, Course Made Good, was the same as his couse it was my course on each tack that was the determinate whether he was overtaking or crossing.

Is that the proper interpretation of Rule 13 in a narrow channel?

Rule 13b says a vessel is overtaking another when the vessel astern is more than 22.5 degrees abaft of the overtaken vessels beam.

My sense of 13b in a narrow channel for this specific case is the determination of overtaking would be based on my CMG of 277° and any vessel on a course greater than 209° and less than 345° would be overtaking me.

However, if the determination is based on the course I am actually sailing then the starboard tack overtaking range would be greater than 164° and less than 300°. The port tack overtaking range would be greater than 30° and less than 264°.

That means the other boat on a course of 277° was within the “overtaking cone” when considering my CMG and when I was on a starboard tack (sailing toward the left side of the channel).

However, when I tacked to port and headed to the right side of the channel the other boat was clearly not overtaking but rather crossing and had the right of way because he was to my starboard.

The interesting part of the problem is that when I was on starboard tack he was overtaking me and when he started to pass me I was still on a starboard tack.

Does 13b mean that when I tacked to port and headed for the right side of the channel the other boat was no longer overtaking me and I had to stay clear of him because he now became the starboard boat?

I know the easy thing to do is just tack away from him as I did. But, I would like to understand the application of Rule 13 in a tacking situation within a confined channel.
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Old 16-06-2014, 01:40   #2
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

TS,

Try putting yourself in the other guy's shoes: what he sees is a small yacht tacking upwind up the channel. The best he can do -- if he had binoculars with a compass --would be to make out your heading at the time, parallax and all. It is erroneous for him to try to maneuver based on what he suspects you are doing. He can only see what he can.

I do think he was overtaking you, and should have kept clear, and that your tacking made it difficult for him. Plus, your "conversation" was ineffective. Had you said to him, " I am restricted in my ability to maneuver" due to no engine available, he should have overtaken you even more carefully (like waited till you tacked away to turn towards his berth). You cannot count on him to predict exactly when you are to tack. Soon, for sure, IF he is paying attention. However, the notion that you have no rights is egregious baloney!

He should not overtake you carelessly; you should not provoke him. More, pay less attention to "rights" and more to getting along, all within the Colregs, but I really think inland waters and maybe local precedence have more validity in SD waters. A murky zone.

You had sailor options, luffing up to let him pass; and later, to fall off and take his stern. How much does 50 ft. lost progress make: another two tacks? Maybe one?

Ann

The whole business about not going over Colregs Handbook with you was bizarre. Flaming egos (not flamingos) at 1.5 paces!
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Old 16-06-2014, 02:08   #3
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

I really hope I never meet you in a narrow channel with my 157m work boat....
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Old 16-06-2014, 02:32   #4
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Very good analysis from Ann Cate. As to Inland Rules -- there are no differences between Inland Rules and International Rules which are relevant here.

Let's be clear about Rule 9b, however -- it doesn't apply here. Didn't you say that his draft is even less than yours? This rule applies to cases where vessels under 20 meters, or sailing vessels, which are able to navigate inside or outside a "narrow channel", encounter larger vessels which due to their draft cannot navigate outside the channel. If both vessels are constrained because there are walls on either side -- this is not a Rule 9b situation.

As to overtaking: By all means, draw an "overtaking cone" as you have. If you tack in such a way that he is approaching from somewhere ahead of 22.5 degrees abaft your beam, then he is not overtaking. There is this rule:

"13(d) 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."

But I think that it would not apply to a big change of course like a tack which fundamentally changes the aspect -- I'd have to look at the case law to be sure, but I have little doubt that this is so.


In any case, however, please LOSE the phrase "right of way". And here is a really good example of the difference between sea and land ideas. If you tack to suddenly change an overtaking situation into a crossing situation, you are automatically wrong -- you have maneuvered in close quarters to increase the risk of collision -- to worsen the angle of the crossing. This is forbidden without a hell of a good reason. The fact that your tack changed the angle from overtaking to crossing is really damning.

And it matters not one whit whether you end up to starboard or to port of him. Port or starboard wouldn't matter in the first place if you are under sail and he is motoring. But even if you were both under sail, it's worse if you end up to starboard of him, because then the question arises whether he is forced to maneuver because of your tack. Or whether the situation has now suddenly become one of in extremis, such that both vessels need to maneuver to keep clear of each other. You must never maneuver in a way which forces another vessel into a sudden maneuver.
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Old 16-06-2014, 02:51   #5
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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I really hope I never meet you in a narrow channel with my 157m work boat....
Why would you say such a silly thing?

Have I not repeatedly said I tacked clear of the other boat?

Why do you think I would cause your workboat a problem?

This situation was in a dead end channel leading into a private marina and involved two small sailboats.

Why would you be in there with a 157' work boat? You would not be able to turn around, dock, or even fit between the buoys and another boat.

I spent 30+ years sailing in the Puget Sound VTS, one of busiest in the world, and never once considered getting in the way of a large ship. Puget Sound contains dozens of 18 knot ferries and a couple 35 knot ferries and I was skilled at staying out of their way, even when navigating very narrow channels such as Rich Passage and the entrance to Eagle Harbor, home of the ferry system.

My boat was docked at the end of a mile long busy commercial waterway and I never once in 15 years had a problem with the tugs, tankers, large commercial fishing boats, or grain ships.

I now sail almost every day in San Diego Bay. I cross, sail out and in the 10 mile long 200 yard wide San Diego Bay channel and frequently have the pleasure of seeing US Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Oilers, submarines, and Amphibious Assault ships. Car carriers and enormous cruise ships are frequently passing by. I never have a single problem figuring out what to do with them in the restricted channel... I stay way clear and make my intentions known way early.
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:02   #6
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Very good analysis from Ann Cate. As to Inland Rules -- there are no differences between Inland Rules and International Rules which are relevant here.

Let's be clear about Rule 9b, however -- it doesn't apply here. Didn't you say that his draft is even less than yours? This rule applies to cases where vessels under 20 meters, or sailing vessels, which are able to navigate inside or outside a "narrow channel", encounter larger vessels which due to their draft cannot navigate outside the channel. If both vessels are constrained because there are walls on either side -- this is not a Rule 9b situation.

As to overtaking: By all means, draw an "overtaking cone" as you have. If you tack in such a way that he is approaching from somewhere ahead of 22.5 degrees abaft your beam, then he is not overtaking. There is this rule:

"13(d) 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."

But I think that it would not apply to a big change of course like a tack which fundamentally changes the aspect -- I'd have to look at the case law to be sure, but I have little doubt that this is so.


In any case, however, please LOSE the phrase "right of way". And here is a really good example of the difference between sea and land ideas. If you tack to suddenly change an overtaking situation into a crossing situation, you are automatically wrong -- you have maneuvered in close quarters to increase the risk of collision -- to worsen the angle of the crossing. This is forbidden without a hell of a good reason. The fact that your tack changed the angle from overtaking to crossing is really damning.

And it matters not one whit whether you end up to starboard or to port of him. Port or starboard wouldn't matter in the first place if you are under sail and he is motoring. But even if you were both under sail, it's worse if you end up to starboard of him, because then the question arises whether he is forced to maneuver because of your tack. Or whether the situation has now suddenly become one of in extremis, such that both vessels need to maneuver to keep clear of each other. You must never maneuver in a way which forces another vessel into a sudden maneuver.
Agreed Dockhead, However I believe there is substantial case precedence that stipulates that changing one's course (and thereby changing the potential rule to be applied) is allowed, assuming the safety of the boat is at stake - which it would be here, if TS does not tack -he sails the boat up on the rocks. Since this is narrow channel - the overtaking boat can easily see that some radical change in course will soon occur

We can then argue that TS might have needed to tack, but he should have then luffed or done someting else to avoid the potential situation.

Agree completely with your "right of way" comment - ain't no such thing on the water.
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:08   #7
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Let me repeat for the ???th time - I did ask him his intention and when he did not answer I did tack away as everyone keeps telling me I should.

I am trying to understand the technical/legal aspect of the situation NOT the practical and smart thing to do.

Dockhead said:
"If you tack to suddenly change an overtaking situation into a crossing situation, you are automatically wrong -- you have maneuvered in close quarters to increase the risk of collision -- to worsen the angle of the crossing. This is forbidden without a hell of a good reason. The fact that your tack changed the angle from overtaking to crossing is really damning."

That seems to be the crux of the issue I am trying to understand. The facts are:
- I had no choice but to sail
- I had no choice but to tack
- I was not impeding the passage of the other boat as demonstrated by the other boats that had easily passed me
- the other boat chose to pass me while I was sailing and tacking

The conclusion to be drawn is that a sailboat hard on the wind in a narrow channel must yield to a power boat passing in the same direction as the sailboat is headed.


Dockhead further states:
"Let's be clear about Rule 9b, however -- it doesn't apply here. "

IF - I repeat IF - I was not impeding his passage (9b) does not the sailboat -vs- powerboat (rule 18) still apply?
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:24   #8
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
That seems to be the crux of the issue I am trying to understand. The facts are:
- I had no choice but to sail
- I had no choice but to tack
- I was not impeding the passage of the other boat as demonstrated by the other boats that had easily passed me
- the other boat chose to pass me while I was sailing and tacking

The conclusion to be drawn is that a sailboat hard on the wind in a narrow channel must yield to a power boat passing in the same direction as the sailboat is headed.


Dockhead further states:
"Let's be clear about Rule 9b, however -- it doesn't apply here. "

IF - I repeat IF - I was not impeding his passage (9b) does not the sailboat -vs- powerboat (rule 18) still apply?
AS I've noted, I would agree with Dockhead - 9b does not apply here. If it doesn't - then the next applicable rule is 13, the overtaking rule. I would argue that since you were tacking and he was aware of this and couldn't help but be aware that you would tack again (so as not to run your boat onto the rocks), you will never get to rule 18. He is the overtaking boat and therefore the onus of keeping clear is on his shoulders.
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:26   #9
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Why would you say such a silly thing?

Have I not repeatedly said I tacked clear of the other boat?

Why do you think I would cause your workboat a problem?

.
Because you are repeatablely asking questions who was right and who was wrong, if you cannot figure out whether you where in the right, get of the water, you are a hindrance..........

Being blunt is never popular........
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:38   #10
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Agreed Dockhead, However I believe there is substantial case precedence that stipulates that changing one's course (and thereby changing the potential rule to be applied) is allowed, assuming the safety of the boat is at stake - which it would be here, if TS does not tack -he sails the boat up on the rocks. Since this is narrow channel - the overtaking boat can easily see that some radical change in course will soon occur

We can then argue that TS might have needed to tack, but he should have then luffed or done someting else to avoid the potential situation.

Agree completely with your "right of way" comment - ain't no such thing on the water.
Of course no one is obligated to sail onto the rocks. But the change of course is not a necessity if he could have luffed up to avoid being there in the first place.

I think the bottom line is you should not tack in front of other traffic. Luff up and let them go by.

And if you are under power and overtaking a tacking sailboat, you should never charge ahead. You should cut power and wait for him to let you go by. And if he doesn't let you go by, you have to patiently hang back at a safe distance.

Those are the seamanlike acts which were required of the two skippers in the OP's case. Both skippers failed to do it.


In many countries trucks going up hill on a two lane highway will drive right off the road and onto the shoulder to let faster traffic get by. Although they have every right under the rules of the road to just drive along, and faster traffic behind, according to the rules, just has to wait. But the truck drivers who do this are showing "good seamanship" by thinking not only about themselves, but about other drivers, and by taking action to make their lives easier. This kind of behavior is not required under land rules, but is absolutely required by the COLREGS.

There can be no conflict over who is to give-way at sea without fault on both sides.
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Old 16-06-2014, 03:46   #11
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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AS I've noted, I would agree with Dockhead - 9b does not apply here. If it doesn't - then the next applicable rule is 13, the overtaking rule. I would argue that since you were tacking and he was aware of this and couldn't help but be aware that you would tack again (so as not to run your boat onto the rocks), you will never get to rule 18. He is the overtaking boat and therefore the onus of keeping clear is on his shoulders.
Correct. You never get to Rule 18. The other skipper is definitely burdened by Rule 13.

But the elephant in the room is Rule 2 -- you should not be tacking across the path of other traffic in a way which requires other traffic to maneuver to avoid you in close quarters; you should take measures to let other traffic go by and create safer crossing situations.

Rule 2 and Rule 13 burden both skippers simultaneously. The violation of a rule by one skipper doesn't relieve the other skipper of his obligations under the other rule.
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Old 16-06-2014, 04:16   #12
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

There's another way to paraphrase the rules here, which may make it easier to understand:

It's often said that you "must never stand-on into danger".

It means that you have neither the obligation nor the right to stand-on -- that is, hold your course and speed and let the give-way vessel maneuver -- if it means that danger increases, compared to taking some other action.

It means that if another vessel is overtaking you, Rule 13 requires the overtaking vessel to maneuver around you at a safe distance. As the stand-on vessel you are burdened with the obligation to hold your course and speed so that the give-way vessel can work out the best maneuver.

However, if holding your course and speed creates more danger compared to luffing up and letting him go by, then you need to luff up and let him go by. It doesn't relieve the other vessel from his Rule 13 obligations, but it simplifies his maneuver.

I think you could extend the "don't stand-on into danger" maxim further -- "don't stand-on in a way which creates unreasonable inconvenience on the part of another skipper." That's because danger and inconvenience are actually pretty closely related. Traffic which flows smoothly is safer traffic. A courteous, considerate, patient skipper, is a safe skipper. An aggressive skipper who doesn't consider the inconvenience of others, who "stands on his rights" (or thinks he does; there's not really any such thing as "standing on your rights" at sea), is a dangerous skipper. All these things are related.

To apply to the present case: A vessel under power which is slewing around at low speed waiting for a sailboat to tack up a channel ahead of it is not in the most maneuverable and hence not in the safest of configurations, especially a larger vessel (not the case here). It's not just inconvenient for him. It disrupts the smooth flow of traffic. Luff up and let him go by.


One more point: The correct sequence of maneuvering here, followed apparently by no one, would have been for the power boat to politely request to pass, by giving the sound signal required by the rules. Then the sailboat should luff up and let him pass by with a friendly wave, as the powerboat skipper tips his hat in appreciation of the sailor's courtesy. Really. Attitude is a big part of good seamanship.
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Old 16-06-2014, 04:39   #13
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Dock head. I think that's the best explanation of proper seamanship I've ever heard. Just want to add that you should return the overtaking vessel´s sound signal if you agree. And five short blasts if you don't
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Old 16-06-2014, 04:46   #14
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Re: When is a boat passing from behind not overtaking? Narrow Channel Part II

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Dock head. I think that's the best explanation of proper seamanship I've ever heard. Just want to add that you should return the overtaking vessel´s sound signal if you agree. And five short blasts if you don't
Oh well done, if the situation is not confusing enough then lets compound it by throwing out some ambiguous signals..............are you serious?
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Old 16-06-2014, 04:48   #15
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Proper procedure is to respond with the other vessel's signal if you agree and 5 if you don't. it's not ambiguous its simple communication
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