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Old 06-03-2024, 03:38   #16
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Exactly! This is where being "courteous" can also be a problem. The stand on vessel needs to maintain their course and speed so that the give way vessel can figure out what to do. If the stand on vessel starts turning this way and that, or speeding up or slowing down, there is no way to figure out what is going on and the best action to take. People may think they are being courteous by changing what they are doing, but it just mucks up the works unless there is some advance agreement or it is done way, way in advance so that the action is clear.

The sidewalk shuffle.


Normally, the reflex for two walkers approaching head-on is for each to dodge right (starboard). It's from driving. COLREGS codifies this.


The question is does this change under sail, when one or both boats may have to tack or jibe to make the turn, and may be left dead in the water and vulnerable by such an unplanned maneuver. For example, most sailboats are going to bear off, not tack or jibe away, whether that is correct or not, because they can do it more easily.
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Old 06-03-2024, 05:42   #17
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Originally Posted by Kijit View Post
Exactly! This is where being "courteous" can also be a problem. The stand on vessel needs to maintain their course and speed so that the give way vessel can figure out what to do. If the stand on vessel starts turning this way and that, or speeding up or slowing down, there is no way to figure out what is going on and the best action to take. People may think they are being courteous by changing what they are doing, but it just mucks up the works unless there is some advance agreement or it is done way, way in advance so that the action is clear.
Agreed. If you want to be courteous, the best thing to do is to get in communication with the other boat and offer to do something to make things easier for them and see what they say.
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Old 06-03-2024, 09:13   #18
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Let me give you a real example.

It is night and you are sailing on a starboard tack on a reefed main sail.

Suddenly there is a 76' fishing vessel dead ahead of you on a collision course. Boat is on autopilot and you aren't directly behind the helm.

Decide what to do.

You have 10 seconds max!
Collision Avoidance is based on keeping a watch and situational awareness. "Suddenly" should not be part of the conversation. Every crew member gets the lecture on constant bearing and decreasing range, and waking up the captain if they have ANY doubts.
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Old 06-03-2024, 09:39   #19
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Let me give you a real example.

It is night and you are sailing on a starboard tack on a reefed main sail.

Suddenly there is a 76' fishing vessel dead ahead of you on a collision course. Boat is on autopilot and you aren't directly behind the helm.

Decide what to do.

You have 10 seconds max!
The boat was unlit?

I had something similar, but it was in broad daylight and the boat bearing down on me had no one at the helm. I saw it coming for a while and I mistakenly thought he'd change course to avoid me. he was headed only slightly to port so I turned away to starboard at 90 degrees, fired up the engine and he passed me within 50 yards going about 20 knots, no one visible anywhere. IT is amazing how fast someone going 20 knots can catch you! 10 seconds? Well I'd probably use up 5 of those seconds just cursing.
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Old 06-03-2024, 12:28   #20
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Collision Avoidance is based on keeping a watch and situational awareness. "Suddenly" should not be part of the conversation. Every crew member gets the lecture on constant bearing and decreasing range, and waking up the captain if they have ANY doubts.
meanwhile in the real world crap happens!
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Old 06-03-2024, 12:53   #21
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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^^ Of course, this is why Rule 17 is flexible. Nope, never had a seriously close call.

The question is how does having sail up change your reactions. For example, you have a chute up on port tack, and the required course change is to starboard. Very like this will result in an unplanned jibe. How does that change you thinking?

For example, you are on port tack with the chute up, and suddenly there is a boat closing from two points to starboard. It doesn't much matter whether it is power or sail, because if the rules were being followed you wouldn't be this close. COLREGS says turn to starboard (if you were both power or both sail), but that means an accidental jibe and maybe a broach. But a turn to port will put you right in the dodge path of the other boat, if he does what he should, and now you will be broadside.

Yes, obviously, you should not be in the situation. With enough space you could have altered either port or starboard and avoided the whole kerfuffle. With crew you would jibe away. But that is not the question.

There is no one size fits all answer to this question.


The complexities of altering course under sail is the reason why sail is stand-on in most situations. But that's of no comfort in a hairy collision avoidance situation under spinnaker. In that case you just have to weigh up the pros and cons of an awkward handling of the chute vs getting into a crossing geometry which increases risk. The answer will be different in different cases.


I personally don't mix it up in traffic with my spinnaker up. If I were facing some complex crossing situation I would douse it.



Same thing to a lesser degree under white sails. In my case, FWIW, I strongly favor handling the sails vs. some suboptimal crossing situation.


But there are some cases where handling the sails is just not an option.
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Old 06-03-2024, 13:18   #22
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Collision Avoidance is based on keeping a watch and situational awareness. "Suddenly" should not be part of the conversation. Every crew member gets the lecture on constant bearing and decreasing range, and waking up the captain if they have ANY doubts.
Shouldn't but sometimes it does. Like unlit tanker without AIS on making no way, just disppearing stars gave it away. Had it been cloudy, who knows. Same with a freighter making about 12kn without AIS on a foggy day. Both on open sea.. Sometimes unexpected happens like a freighter on collision curse. Agreed on VHF who moves and then they suddenly had an engine failure and stopped right in front of us. None of these was too close quarters but could've been.
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Old 06-03-2024, 13:49   #23
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Re: Collision Avoidance

One of the scariest ones I could have run into was encountering a tug lit up like a Christmas tree north of Nassau in the Bahamas, but no discernible running lights so I wasn't 100% sure what he was doing. My spidey sense started to tingle and we decided to wait around until he passed out of sight, and I was glad I did when an enormous black barge trailing probably a half-mile or so behind loomed against the distant lights of Nassau. No discernable lights on the barge at all. Back in the day we ran into many big fishing boats running across the Bahama Banks at night seemingly on autopilot showing no lights.
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Old 06-03-2024, 13:57   #24
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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I personally don't mix it up in traffic with my spinnaker up. If I were facing some complex crossing situation I would douse it.

When I was sailing in Lake Pepin I would observe the interactions between the racers and the barges. During the shipping season we would see 3-4 barges a day.



Lake Pepin is a wide spot in the Mississippi. Western Rivers rules apply so downbound power is stand-on (maybe; the lake is wide enough that whether there is a following current is debatable). There a gradual bend to starboard for the downbound tugs, and there is quite a bit of variation in when they start their turn. Some of them start it early and cut through the center of the lake, others start it late and stay by the eastern bank.


The racers designate someone to hail barges on VHF, advise them that there's a race taking place and gently suggest that they start their turn late to avoid it.


As for the crews out practicing with the chute when there's no race going on, well, I guess if you're going to use a chute on the river, you've got to be good.
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Old 06-03-2024, 17:28   #25
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Re: Collision Avoidance

In real life COLREGS is a farce, unless an incident happens and then they open the rule book. Faster and bigger boats don’t care about it, it is up to us to be on the look out and be safe at all times.

Last fall we were east bound under sail in LIS, close to the LI side as we were about to enter a harbor - kept an eye on a freighter on AIS from 20 NM out, it was supposed to pass at least 2 NM port of us at the CPA, about 3-5 NM behind us he changes course to starboard and comes straight at us, and then radios me to change direction or “he would run me over”. There was no reason for him to change direction, it was a late fall day and we were the only 2 boats in a wide part of sound. I was fuming, thought about reporting him but it would have been futile, so don’t tell me the big guys know what they are doing.
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Old 06-03-2024, 19:46   #26
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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In real life COLREGS is a farce, unless an incident happens and then they open the rule book. Faster and bigger boats don’t care about it, it is up to us to be on the look out and be safe at all times.

Last fall we were east bound under sail in LIS, close to the LI side as we were about to enter a harbor - kept an eye on a freighter on AIS from 20 NM out, it was supposed to pass at least 2 NM port of us at the CPA, about 3-5 NM behind us he changes course to starboard and comes straight at us, and then radios me to change direction or “he would run me over”. There was no reason for him to change direction, it was a late fall day and we were the only 2 boats in a wide part of sound. I was fuming, thought about reporting him but it would have been futile, so don’t tell me the big guys know what they are doing.
Why would a commercial freighter, probably under pilotage feel the need to keep you informed of his course changes? Ships change course for many reasons that you’re probably unaware of. Some standing orders require the master to maintain or stay above a designated under keel clearance, CPA’s between ships is another hard and fast standing order as is maintaining an accurate course on ranges… narrow channels cause changes in heading that are often difficult to understand if your draft is less than 10 metres.
Colregs are never a “farce”, that would be a career ending attitude for a professional mariner.
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Old 06-03-2024, 20:19   #27
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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Why would a commercial freighter, probably under pilotage feel the need to keep you informed of his course changes? Ships change course for many reasons that you’re probably unaware of. Some standing orders require the master to maintain or stay above a designated under keel clearance, CPA’s between ships is another hard and fast standing order as is maintaining an accurate course on ranges… narrow channels cause changes in heading that are often difficult to understand if your draft is less than 10 metres.
Colregs are never a “farce”, that would be a career ending attitude for a professional mariner.
Inform me of his course change? Did you even understand what I wrote?

He left the middle of the sound to come towards me, if he knew COLREGS he would have maintained his course to pass 2 NM away from me, I was close to land and he came closer, then asked me to change course.

Yes, COLREGS is a farce, confined to mariners’ test taking and passionate discussions on forums.
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Old 07-03-2024, 09:02   #28
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Re: Collision Avoidance

Yup, it was under pilotage. A significant violation of COLREGS would mark
the end of the pilots's career.

2. It shall be unlawful for any person not licensed as a Long Island-Block Island Sound pilot under this article to pilot or to offer to pilot any foreign vessel or any American vessel sailing under register transiting the New York state waters of Long Island Sound or Block Island Sound east of Execution Rocks or Sands Point including any such vessel entering or departing from any port situated on the New York state waters of Long Island Sound east of Execution Rocks or Sands Point ....

Without details, it is impossible to say why the freighter took the course
it did, but you can be 100% certain there was a reason. I'm guessing it
was a channel issue and that freighters probably do this commonly. I've
been surprised by such turns on the Chesapeake Bay many times, and when
I looked at the chart, there was generally an obvious reason. For him,
these are probably confined waters (it probably takes him 2 miles to stop).

COLREGS does not mean there isn't traffic. If you think his maneuver was
unpredictable, guess how he sees the maneuvering of every recreational
boat? Like ducks on the water, or rented kayaks at best. I've been told
to change course before, chute up, and it didn't bother me. I'm just playing.
He's working for a living.
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Old 07-03-2024, 09:21   #29
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Re: Collision Avoidance

I'll respond with a question. I've never piloted a ship, but I have driven a semi and been pushed around by them too.


Let's say you are entering the harbor and when you enter the channel there is a kayak in front of you. You are overtaking. What does COLREGS say about encounters between a power vessel and a kayak?


The answer is that it does not. The USCG has offed an official interpretation:


Although a vessel under oars may be lit as a sailing vessel, one should not infer that they are considered to be a sailing vessel for other Rules (i.e. Rule 9, 10, 12, 18 or 35). Ultimately, the issue of whether a vessel under oars is the give-way or stand-on vessel would fall to what would be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case, Rule 2, and, the notion that they are less able than most other vessels.



Some harbors have local rules. They may entirely restrict human-powered boats from certain areas. They may give the right of way to human powered craft in specific areas. But there is no federal or international law.


My point is that although COLREGS treats a freighter and a 35' flea as the same thing, common sense and practicality says they are not. Perhaps the captain came across as rude, but in reality he was just being firm, as a conversation would not have helped anything and would only have wasted valuable time.


And so this comes back to collision avoidance and the grapic I posted. He expected you to do as the Rule 17 states, and if you did some thing different, that could be a problem. The only thing I would have asked him was whether he was now holding course. That he needs to share.
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Old 07-03-2024, 10:01   #30
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Re: Collision Avoidance

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I'll respond with a question. I've never piloted a ship, but I have driven a semi and been pushed around by them too.


Let's say you are entering the harbor and when you enter the channel there is a kayak in front of you. You are overtaking. What does COLREGS say about encounters between a power vessel and a kayak?


The answer is that it does not. The USCG has offed an official interpretation:


Although a vessel under oars may be lit as a sailing vessel, one should not infer that they are considered to be a sailing vessel for other Rules (i.e. Rule 9, 10, 12, 18 or 35). Ultimately, the issue of whether a vessel under oars is the give-way or stand-on vessel would fall to what would be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case, Rule 2, and, the notion that they are less able than most other vessels.



Some harbors have local rules. They may entirely restrict human-powered boats from certain areas. They may give the right of way to human powered craft in specific areas. But there is no federal or international law.


My point is that although COLREGS treats a freighter and a 35' flea as the same thing, common sense and practicality says they are not. Perhaps the captain came across as rude, but in reality he was just being firm, as a conversation would not have helped anything and would only have wasted valuable time.


And so this comes back to collision avoidance and the grapic I posted. He expected you to do as the Rule 17 states, and if you did some thing different, that could be a problem. The only thing I would have asked him was whether he was now holding course. That he needs to share.

Maybe this schematic will help, it is not up to scale but you will get the point.

There are no shipping channels where we were, there was no traffic, he came closer to land to approach me, and his direction change was made at the last minute. As soon as I saw him change course on AIS I became alert, we all know how fast they can cover 2-3 NM.

I have been sailing these waters for 8-9 years now and this is not the first time we have been bullied, we share stories of such incidents at our post-race beer gatherings and believe me, I am not the only one with such stories.

One old salt had announced a securite call on 16 last year after a power boater was doing circles at high speed around his boat, needless to say the power boater ran away after the call, I may start doing that.
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