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Old 12-05-2014, 18:31   #31
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
So many issues:
- It's written in legalise. I had to read it 4 times because I thought it was saying the opposite of what I thought the rule was. There is a reason for the way it is written but certainly not for ease of comprehension.
What did you think the rule was?
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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
- "Narrow Channel" is a somewhat vague term. While there is probalby a definition somewhere, it is open to interpretation. What is very narrow approaching a 1000ft frieghter can seem darn roomy approaching a 20' runabout.
- The is the out of where "practicable". If I can come up with any practicable reason, I don't have to follow this rule. (Is "practicable" a real word?)
- As others have said, there may be issues outside the channel. Where possible, I like the option to turn and run out of the channel entirely.
- A narrow channel with ship traffic may be 1/4-1/2 mile wide. If I have to cross to the far side only to cross back over, doing 4mph, I may be creating more of a safety issue than if I just hug close to the wrong side.
Why would you have to cross back and forth across a narrow channel with ship traffic? Wouldn't it create less of a safety issue if you hugged the right side of the channel?
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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
While you get the occasional person who travels on the wrong side, I'd say the vast majority do it just fine. If you are unsure call them to arrange a passing or just plan to dodge them. There are bigger fish to fry than this issue.

There may be bigger fish to fry, but I find it terribly frustrating when someone else does something that requires me to act contrary to the colregs (ie. forcing me left in a head-on situation). This could and has led to confused situations with subsequent vessels. Colregs are all about how to plan to dodge them - if "they" don't follow the regs; and they are unpredictable, it's very hard to plan the appropriate manoeuvre to dodge them.
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Old 12-05-2014, 18:34   #32
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
The ship's master likely wanted to avoid the "wrong side" pleasure boats.
He would have been just right of centre, even if those idiots weren't there.
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Old 12-05-2014, 18:45   #33
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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He would have been just right of centre, even if those idiots weren't there.
I'll accept that explanation.
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Old 12-05-2014, 20:52   #34
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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That rule does not exist in isolation.

...

I feel one needs to consider the rules in their entirety, not just a single rule in isolation.
I had to reread your post. And I set it aside and came back to it. I'm sorry, but I don't get what you're saying. Some rules play in anti-collision, but others are just directives - "you must show these lights", "you sound this signal", "when proceeding along a channel or fairway, you stay as far right as is safe and practicable". The rule stands in isolation. Sure an exception to the rule could be made in order to comply with other parts of the Rules, but none of that applies to the situations I've seen, or described here.
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Old 12-05-2014, 23:36   #35
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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I had to reread your post. And I set it aside and came back to it. I'm sorry, but I don't get what you're saying. Some rules play in anti-collision, but others are just directives - "you must show these lights", "you sound this signal", "when proceeding along a channel or fairway, you stay as far right as is safe and practicable". The rule stands in isolation. Sure an exception to the rule could be made in order to comply with other parts of the Rules, but none of that applies to the situations I've seen, or described here.
I'm saying you framed your original question about how people operate their boats within the context of a single rule of the road. My point is there are other rules of the road to consider, which do not dictate the uniform traffic flow you referred to.

Certainly there are people who operate their vessels in obvious violation of all the rules and against common sense. My point is simply that because boats are not following a pattern or behavior consistent with one single rule, does not mean they are not obeying the overall rules. You need to consider the bigger picture, not just the single rule you chose to quote.

I cited several rules which clearly showed that the boating rules don't dictate that boats must always pass in a nice orderly port to port fashion we see on roadways.
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Old 13-05-2014, 00:34   #36
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Photo taken from a Panamax ship going outbound from San Diego Bay near mid-channel. The marked channel is wide. Picture shows inbound sailboats on the portside. Photo shows there are situations when it is safe to use the wrong side (as did my earlier photo of my boat avoiding crossing the path of a freighter).
A lot depends on where those sailboats were coming from. In many situations, I'd prefer to tuck in close on the port side of a shipping channel rather than attempt to cross under the bow of a large ship to get onto the starboard side.
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Old 13-05-2014, 07:10   #37
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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I'm saying you framed your original question about how people operate their boats within the context of a single rule of the road. My point is there are other rules of the road to consider, which do not dictate the uniform traffic flow you referred to.

Certainly there are people who operate their vessels in obvious violation of all the rules and against common sense. My point is simply that because boats are not following a pattern or behavior consistent with one single rule, does not mean they are not obeying the overall rules. You need to consider the bigger picture, not just the single rule you chose to quote.

I cited several rules which clearly showed that the boating rules don't dictate that boats must always pass in a nice orderly port to port fashion we see on roadways.
The reason I chose to quote the one section of the rules, is for brevity. It is the primary tenet of rule 9, and is as fundamental as it gets to safe navigation. I also clarified my position in my second post, before you chimed in. I have been around the buoy a time or two, so I do understand the rules are taken in conjunction. None of the rules you quoted countermand rule 9(a).
So to clarify again - I'm talking about other vessels of similar size and characteristics to me, motoring along a channel, not outside of it; not joining it nor leaving it, nor near a position to do so; and not avoiding large vessels. In every case I refer to, it was safe and possible for the opposing vessel(s) to meet me red to red - they chose to go green to green, by their manoeuvre alone - I just want to know why that is so common? I would like to know the mindset of the sailor that would choose to go left when meeting a head-on vessel, or who gets into a channel and chooses to run down his portside, when there are no apparent reasons to do so?
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Old 13-05-2014, 07:22   #38
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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What did you think the rule was?

These rules are written more with lawyers in mind than sailors. When you write a rule that is unclear, you have a poorly writen rule. I'd rather a simple straight forward rule that gets very good compliance becuase it's easy to understand but it gives the lawyers fits as opposed to a rule, no one understands and causes many to disregard it but allows the lawyers a very simple and straight forward law suit.

Why would you have to cross back and forth across a narrow channel with ship traffic? Wouldn't it create less of a safety issue if you hugged the right side of the channel?

That is my point. Following the "rule" can result in a less safe conditions. Let's say, your marina is on the "wrong" side of a 1/2 mile wide shipping channel and you are proceeding up the channel to another facility a 1/2 mile upstream also on the "wrong" side of the channel. Crossing the channel so you can say you were on the correct side of the channel, is likely less safe if you have to squeeze between thru traffic (if there is little or no thru traffic, it's basically a pointless discussion)

There may be bigger fish to fry, but I find it terribly frustrating when someone else does something that requires me to act contrary to the colregs (ie. forcing me left in a head-on situation). This could and has led to confused situations with subsequent vessels. Colregs are all about how to plan to dodge them - if "they" don't follow the regs; and they are unpredictable, it's very hard to plan the appropriate manoeuvre to dodge them.

Traveling on the "wrong" side of the channel isn't neccessarily against the colregs if they have half a reason to be there. You may not realize the reason, so you should also follow the colregs and (as much as I hate the legalise) it accounts for them.

Just because they are on the "correct" side, doesn't mean they won't do something stupid at the last minute. You always have an obligation to watch nearby vessels and be prepared to react to thier actions.

I still stand by my statement. I don't see it happening to a degree that impacts my ability to safely navigate the channel very often, while I see many other dangerous and disruptive behaviors on a regular basis.
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Old 13-05-2014, 09:57   #39
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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- they chose to go green to green, by their manoeuvre alone - I just want to know why that is so common? I would like to know the mindset of the sailor that would choose to go left when meeting a head-on vessel,
Because they feel operating so as to avoid a collision is the most important rule, and are not as concerned about the orderliness of everyone streaming past each other port to port as you are.

There have certainly been times when I've entered a port for the first time and wished the traffic was more port to port, but the reality is many locals simply don't care to be that orderly. In the end, the rules are about avoiding a collision and that's the guiding principle many will operate on.

It's incredibly rare I've ever heard boats use the proper horn signals either.

I'm not criticizing your wish that more boaters pass port to port, I'm just pointing out that many boaters focus primarily on collision avoidance rather than that specific protocol.


If another boater would break a protocol resulting in a collision, hopefully they would be found to be the at fault party, but that's not what you are speaking to. You are speaking to people who are in fact successfully maneuvering to avoid a collision.
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Old 13-05-2014, 10:57   #40
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

I'm going to chime in here, even though many will disagree with my view.

The major reason for boaters not following the Colregs is simply that they:

1- Do not know the colregs, having never learned them or studied them

2- Have read them but do not understand them, nor do they understand the reasoning behind the Regs. To those that think the regs are ambiguous - I'm afraid you're wrong. The regs are actually quite clear, albiet understanding them and the meaning behind them requires expending time and energy for study. Something many boaters are unwilling to do.
  • Collision avoidance is Paramount, and if a situation arises that requires it, the Colregs may be broken. HOWEVER, if boaters sail according to the regs, those situations will rarely occur.
  • Understanding the regs takes time and effort, a lot of effort.
From my experience few boaters put that kind of effort into learning how to sail.

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Old 13-05-2014, 11:31   #41
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

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2- Have read them but do not understand them, nor do they understand the reasoning behind the Regs. To those that think the regs are ambiguous - I'm afraid you're wrong. The regs are actually quite clear, albiet understanding them and the meaning behind them requires expending time and energy for study. Something many boaters are unwilling to do.


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I don't think anyone is suggesting the rules are ambigous. If you dig into the language, they are very specific and cover just about any possible scenario. If anything they are too detailed.

The problem is in being so all encompasing and writing with legal proceedings in mind (not a captain at the helm), they are not straight forward to understand.

If you dig around, you find many threads with long debates as to the exact definition of who has right of way in various scenarios. The fact that we get right of way discussion fairly regualrly that go on for pages often with highly experienced captains at odds with each other, suggests they are not clearly written. If they were clearly written, we would get a response or two, everyone would agree and we would move on to the next topic.

It also undermines your premise that boaters don't want to take the time to learn the rules. You wouldn't get these long invovled discussions if no one cared. It suggests, that once people feel comfortable that they are "reasonably" safe, they give up after beating their head against the wall enough times.
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Old 13-05-2014, 12:12   #42
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

I beg to differ. The regs were't written with sea courts in mind, they were written in order to set down rules whereby ships could avoid collisions.

discussions almost invariably involve which regs is the appropriate one. governing the situation. if you look at the threads here on CF, it is usually the same posters discussing, because they are mostly the only ones who understand the regs.

yes there are grey areas, same as with traffic laws on land. if you want real confusion, think about the rules of golf LOL





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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
I don't think anyone is suggesting the rules are ambigous. If you dig into the language, they are very specific and cover just about any possible scenario. If anything they are too detailed.

The problem is in being so all encompasing and writing with legal proceedings in mind (not a captain at the helm), they are not straight forward to understand.

If you dig around, you find many threads with long debates as to the exact definition of who has right of way in various scenarios. The fact that we get right of way discussion fairly regualrly that go on for pages often with highly experienced captains at odds with each other, suggests they are not clearly written. If they were clearly written, we would get a response or two, everyone would agree and we would move on to the next topic.

It also undermines your premise that boaters don't want to take the time to learn the rules. You wouldn't get these long invovled discussions if no one cared. It suggests, that once people feel comfortable that they are "reasonably" safe, they give up after beating their head against the wall enough times.
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Old 13-05-2014, 12:44   #43
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

More straightforward answer as to why boats don't always pass port to port.

1. Some boaters don't know the protocols or don't care.

2. Many feel taking steps to avoid a collision is all that really matters, and don't feel passing port to port is that important. The regs. are largely about what to do when there is a potential for collision.

3. There are other rules beside the port to port rule which influence how boats will maneuver.

4. There are real constraints which will affect how boats maneuver. Things like draft, wind, point of sail, steerage room, where a boat is going, etc. may not be conducive to passing port to port.
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Old 13-05-2014, 15:09   #44
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

"f you dig around, you find many threads with long debates as to the exact definition of who has right of way in various scenarios. The fact that we get right of way discussion fairly regualrly that go on for pages often with highly experienced captains at odds with each other, suggests they are not clearly written. If they were clearly written, we would get a response or two, everyone would agree and we would move on to the next topic."

The fact that there are discussions about who has "Right of Way" suggests that people don't understand the col-regs. Automobiles and other road vehicles have right of way and the one that does can maneuver pretty much as it desires. The col-regs specify the stand-on and give-way vessels. The stand on vessel must (with some exceptions) continue it's current course and speed, and the give way vessel should alter course and/or speed to avoid a collision. If you are the stand on vessel and were intending to make a turn, you can't.

Just as an example you are under sail and coming up on the inlet to your marina, and intending to make a turn to port to head in. Coming up from behind you is another boat and he moves to pass on your port side. You being the "stand on" vessel can't turn until he clears you. He being the give way vessel is required to maneuver around you. Neither of you has "right of way" to maneuver as you please.


There simple isn't a "right of way" on the water.
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Old 13-05-2014, 21:42   #45
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Re: Why Port Side of Channel?

These rules are written more with lawyers in mind than sailors. When you write a rule that is unclear, you have a poorly writen rule. I'd rather a simple straight forward rule that gets very good compliance becuase it's easy to understand but it gives the lawyers fits as opposed to a rule, no one understands and causes many to disregard it but allows the lawyers a very simple and straight forward law suit.

Malarkey! The rules ain't perfect, but they are definitely understandable. You stated that you thought a rule was opposite - what rule were you talking about? Was it Rule 9? Did you think it said vessels should travel on the port side of a channel?
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That is my point. Following the "rule" can result in a less safe conditions. Let's say, your marina is on the "wrong" side of a 1/2 mile wide shipping channel and you are proceeding up the channel to another facility a 1/2 mile upstream also on the "wrong" side of the channel. Crossing the channel so you can say you were on the correct side of the channel, is likely less safe if you have to squeeze between thru traffic (if there is little or no thru traffic, it's basically a pointless discussion)
You are discussing a situation where practicability would dictate a departure from a strict interpretation - that's accounted for in the rule.
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Traveling on the "wrong" side of the channel isn't neccessarily against the colregs if they have half a reason to be there. You may not realize the reason, so you should also follow the colregs and (as much as I hate the legalise) it accounts for them.
But if they don't have half a reason to be there, then it is against the colregs. And the "ordinary practice of seamen" and common sense can tell you if they have a reason to be on the port side.

Following the colregs put me on a collision course with at least one of these idiots (head-on situation); he put me in the position of needing to depart from the rules myself - and at that point I basically had to guess that he would not suddenly realize what he was supposed to do, but instead would persist in his stupidity.
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Just because they are on the "correct" side, doesn't mean they won't do something stupid at the last minute. You always have an obligation to watch nearby vessels and be prepared to react to thier actions.
At least if he was on the correct side, he would be on the far side of the channel from me, and I'd have the room to bail out as 95% of the time, the preferred/standard/logical manoeuvre is a turn to stbd.
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