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Old 09-09-2020, 07:25   #1
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Rules of the road - entering a channel

First off, let me apologize if this question has been answered a zillion times. I did do a search but probably not extensive enough.

After some recent near-collisions I went back and reviewed the "rules of the road" and cannot find anything that clearly explains the rules on entering a channel.

Here's a scenario: you are in a channel on a wide bay going from channel marker 2 to 1. A boat is entering the channel from your right at about a 45 degree angle to you. He's on a collision course with you. In open water he is the stand-on boat. You are in a motoring sailboat and might be concerned about departing the channel to allow for his entry or stopping and losing steering control.

My understanding has been that you have the right of way since you are in the channel and he is entering the channel.

What I encountered the other day which got me to thinking about this was a large powerboat at high speed purposely coming within several feet of my bow apparently because he felt I was violating the rules and cutting into his path. His passenger glared at me as they went by.

I am curious if anyone can pin down a rule which covers this? I can't seem to find it.

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Old 09-09-2020, 07:30   #2
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

The only rule that covers it as far as I know is the rule about vessels under 65 feet not impeding the passage of any other vessel in a narrow channel. Other than that, it's just courtesy to treat the vessels in a channel as stand on when you're entering a channel.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:37   #3
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

The only Rule which makes a channel special is Rule 9 -- if you are entering a channel and are crossing with a vessel which cannot navigate safely outside of the channel, and you are less than 20 meters long and/or are a sailing vessel, then you shall not impede the passage of the other vessel.



Otherwise, the normal Rules apply -- if you are under sail only and he is not, you stand on initially and he gives way (then you maneuver if necessary). Or if you are both under sail and you are on starboard tack, or if you are both motoring and you are to starboard of him, etc. etc. Without regard to who is in the channel and who is not. The channel does not make the situation special except to the extent that Rule 9 applies.


But keep in mind Rule 2, the most important Rule. It is also not right to unnecessarily interfere with navigation in channels, even if Rule 9 does not apply. If you are entering a channel from a marina, for example, it is good seamanship and common courtesy to time your exit from the marina to avoid making other vessels maneuver.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:43   #4
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

I think that as long as you are not constrained by draft and can not turn then the other boat is privileged and you must give way, regardless of the channel markers or who is in or out of them.

But given that this is a rarer issue because many channels are in narrower bodies of water. Boats crossing or entering the channel usually have just turned into their recent course, not having been in them for a long time unless rhey are coming in from another body of water.

Another boat can't "create" a privileged situation by recently turning in or moving from a stop into your own course that has already been long established motoring down that channel.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:44   #5
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

This has been a challenge for us at two marinas with shallow channels. For both, I would do a securite' call regarding limited maneuverability. We got in trouble once when a 60+ foot charter motor vessel with a professional captain came out of their slip and did not see our 40-foot sailboat. He ran us aground while crewed charter captains were screaming at him from the dock. This happened so fast I had no time to reach for the horn. We had lots of help getting back in the channel and USCG was notified.

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Old 09-09-2020, 07:45   #6
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

And by the way -- Rule 9 applies to all vessels which cannot navigate safely outside the channel -- even under 20 meters and sailing vessels.



I think literally none of the dinghy sailors in Poole Harbour knows about this. There is about a foot of water outside the channels at low water, and so your 2.3m draft sailboat might as well be a supertanker. Yet the dinghy racers cut you off and expect you to get out of their way, and shake their fists at you, if you don't
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:57   #7
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

IMHO the boat IN the channel SHOULD be the stand-on vessel. While the vessel merging into the channel should be the give way vessel. This would be much like merging into traffic on a road.

Unfortunately, there is nothing covering this beyond "restricted navigation by draft". However, 'restricted by draft' doesn't prevent you from slowing down, speeding up, using sound signals or the radio to negotiate the maneuver.
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:00   #8
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

It depends where you are. Rule 15 in the Inland Rules provides that power-driven vessels crossing a river must give way to power-driven vessels going up or down a river, but only in the Great Lakes and Western Rivers (which is mostly whatever drains to the Gulf).


It is a major departure from the COLREGs for boats in the area affected.
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:13   #9
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

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Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
. . . Unfortunately, there is nothing covering this beyond "restricted navigation by draft". However, 'restricted by draft' doesn't prevent you from slowing down, speeding up, using sound signals or the radio to negotiate the maneuver.

Where do you find "restricted navigation by draft" in the Rules, and how does it apply to the OP's case?
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:41   #10
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

If I understand correctly, marker #2 is red, and #1 is Green and the vessel entering is cutting into the channel putting #2 to port. I would be expecting that you are the stand on vessel in the channel and he should yield to you having not entered the channel appropriately. He has to leave red #2 to starboard and in so doing, he must cross the entire channel to get into position. He probably did not know the rules of navigating in a marked channel, nor did his passengers. Lucky for both of you that another vessel was not in the channel between #1 and #2 entering the harbor.
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:41   #11
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

I suggest you get a copy of the Colregs and do some research to answer your own question. It's all about knowing who had the right of way. Remember the ultimate rule" Avoid all collisions regardless of the right of way as most boaters don't know the rules.
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:30   #12
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

Biggest issue I have is I follow the rules and Idiots just do what they want!
Rule number one always protect you and your boat no matter what other rules apply
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:37   #13
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I think literally none of the dinghy sailors in Poole Harbour knows about this.
Not just there. I see it in lots of harbors. It would appear these young sailors are taught that they always have "right of way" and need to press the issue by going out of their way to make the power boats "yield."

I've seen it too often for it to be pure chance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Creadon View Post
I suggest you get a copy of the Colregs and do some research to answer your own question. It's all about knowing who had the right of way.
And here we have a perfect example to prove my point. Someone who claims to understand the rules but still uses that phrase.

I think this is the point in any NavRules thread where we the pedantics begin. I figured I may as well start it this time.
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:43   #14
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

IMHO there is a general rule for most situations. Assume the worst about the other operator and act accordingly. A collision avoided is a far better outcome then being damaged but in the right.
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:57   #15
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Re: Rules of the road - entering a channel

I always thought that in a channel, given enough space to pass one another, you do a port to port pass. Each boat passing the other on its port side. However if the entrance is restricted and doesn't have space to comfortably pass one another then the one entering the passage or marina waits for the exiting vessel.
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