delaney

Right of Way - Powerboats vs Sailboat

21 posts in this topic

This past weekend I was nervous on multiple occasions.  I was sailing our 12' Topper w/ my son as skipper on a port tack course.  Lake runs E-W with the wind pretty much as due west at about 15 knots.  perfect sailing conditions.  I was extremely irritated not by the ski boats as they gave way 100% of the time but the cruisers on the lake somehow felt that their course was theirs to take and not back down.  On a port tack (we were heading SW upwind) and the a cruiser heading due west but about 200 meters behind us.  i noticed that our path would cross but we have the right of way so my son held the course, preparing for a starboard tack once we reached the south side of the lake.  we both continued to watch as the 50' Carver held his course (our lake is wide enough and deep enough for him to travel easily anywhere he wants)  When is was obvious he wasn't going to alter his course - my son put the boat in irons as we both were not sure what this guy was going to do.  quickly, we did say should we tack and we thought he would alter his course to our stern starboard side.  so irons was our call - he never stopped, slowed to changed course.  he passed us about 10' from us and he was moving i would estimate 15 knots - he glared at us as if we were in the wrong.  it was a gorgeous boat Carver C52 but obviously this guy doesn't know that sailboats have the right of way ( not all the time) but certainly in this situation.  it was a good learning experience for both of us to keep your head on a swivel but i was really PO'd at this guy.  we took on his 3' wake & i gave the bird to his crew

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First, drop the "right of way" term as it confuses people into thinking they are on the highway and highway rules apply. The" right of way" does not apply on water anywhere but one very specific place on inland waters in the USA. There are no COLREGS that give anybody the right of way. The COLREGS define the responsibilities to avoid collision. In this respect, you and your son did really well, minus the bird.

Yes, the sailboat is high on the priority list but that's it. There is still a few dozen other COLREG rules that apply equally to both captains. All of them are about obligations to avoid collision and not about enforcing one boat's "right of way" over the other.

Now, playing the devil's advocate ...

Chances are the other captain never sailed and had no idea about sailboat propulsion limitations, tacks and irons. Chances are, the other captain could not read your mind and was confused by the sailboat maneuvers. Chances are the other captain never expected that sailboat (stand on vessel in this case) to start changing course and/or speed. Chances are the sailboat has not signaled its intention to change course, and consequently did not get an agreement from the other captain back. Chances are, I could go on for much longer ... but ... the sailboat did what the COLREGS intended it to do to avoid the collision.

This is what counts here the most ... it takes two to have a collision and the maritime courts nearly always put a blame on both involved captains.

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My father taught me that the more maneuverable vessel should yield to the less maneuverable, regardless of size.  I boat exclusively on lakes; this one piece of advice works very well.  Now if we can get everyone to keep to the right  and pass on the left; and keep their speed down in no-wakes zones and in coves where everyone is on the hook . . . 

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Sailboat has the right of way if under sail power.  All others except man powered vessels should yield to a sailboat under sail.  Sailboat under motorized power is a motorboat.

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Sorry Duane, with all due respect ... nobody has right of way on water. There is a priority pecking order and sailboat under sail is higher on that list than powered boat and there are other classes of vessels above it. The list does not give a sailboat a right to enforce its rights ... there are other rules that the sailboat and any other boat must follow to take action to avoid the collision in any circumstances. This would include dropping the stand on vessel status if that is required to avoid the collision.

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RULE 18
RESPONSIBILITIES BETWEEN VESSELS

Except where Rules 9, 10, and 13 otherwise require:

(a)���� A power-driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:

    1. a vessel not under command;
    2. a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
    3. a vessel engaged in fishing;
    4. a sailing vessel.

(b)���� A sailing vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:

    1. a vessel not under command;
    2. a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
    3. a vessel engaged in fishing.

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certainly not wanting to argue for the sake of being right or wrong.  if we were that stubborn to be right, we would have tasted the bow plate of a 52' cruiser moving @ 15 knots vs a 300 lb sailboat.  no prize for winning that argument at all!!  Our line of attack was consistent and not zigzaging at all.  we were clearly the overtaken vessel on a constant course.   i certainly believe that captain felt that his vessel was too big and that a small boat under sail should give way to him.  Image result for judge smails

Judge Smails!!!

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2 hours ago, Futzin' said:

My father taught me that the more maneuverable vessel should yield to the less maneuverable, regardless of size.

That is a good rule of thumb. The other I practice is to take, whenever/wherever possible, an early and decisive maneuver to head behind other boat's stern rather than in front of its bow regardless of my status.

49 minutes ago, delaney said:

Yes, that is the pecking order, and one of many COLREGS rules to take into account in totality and adhere to. Note how it is worded, the rule talks about the responsibility, and never mentions the right. That is the spirit of the COLREGS.

There is also a more comprehensive and more detailed list of vessel classes in the COLREGS.

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23 hours ago, delaney said:

Image result for judge smails

Lol!!! You did the right thing. He should have passed you on your starboard side and nothing would've happened. Talk about an a$$hat...

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Another reason to have a VHF. You can always hail the other boater. I am sure that a 50' Carver would be monitoring 16.

I love it when a sail boat is motoring. The rules change..................  

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This is analogous to the cross walk argument that goes on in metropolitan areas.  Crossing with or against the light you may be right but you are just as dead.  That's the lowest common denominator I suppose the argument can be taken to.  I see people who don't have a clue what the rules are every week.  We have a facebook page dedicated to our lake as all lakes do and there is an interesting back and forth going on between the wake boaters, PWC'ers, boaters and the fishermen.  The fishermen believe they can fish anywhere including the middle of a narrow, full wake zone and everyone has to kowtow to them, Wakeboard boats are making large wakes and people don't appreciated it and on and on.  

Glad this was nothing more than an annoyance for you.  

 

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You took the right steps, including the bird. . avoided a collision and made your view of their lack of adherence to convention clearly known :D

 

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My thought is to always avoid the accident then figure out the rules later.    Owning both a sailboat and the chap.  I always yield to the sailboat understanding the maneuverable differences.    

Of course most of the time i have the admiral yelling in my ear way before another boat even gets in range.    "Do you see that boat!!!, OMG Do you see that crab pot" 

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22 hours ago, Kwood92 said:

My thought is to always avoid the accident then figure out the rules later.    Owning both a sailboat and the chap.  I always yield to the sailboat understanding the maneuverable differences.    

Of course most of the time i have the admiral yelling in my ear way before another boat even gets in range.    "Do you see that boat!!!, OMG Do you see that crab pot" 

does my wife have a second husband?

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If I read your [and his] position correctly it seems to me that the Carver screwed up three times. 

A] You were to his right-He was the give-way vessel.

B] You were a sailboat under sail. Again he was the give-way vessel.

C] An overtaking vessel must keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken. A 50 footer passing 10 feet away, to me, doesn't classify as "out of the way."

Even if the 50 footer had the stand-on position, he should have prepared to avoid collision....which it seems he didn't.

"The stand-on vessel

The stand-on vessel shall maintain her course and speed, but she may take action to avoid collision if it becomes clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action, or when so close that collision can no longer be avoided by the actions of the give-way vessel alone........"
 
I don't think many people read the rules. So many times I've been in the stand-on position and having to take collision avoidance action because the other guy isn't going to.

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13 minutes ago, SST said:

Even if the 50 footer had the stand-on position, he should have prepared to avoid collision....which it seems he didn't.

"The stand-on vessel

The stand-on vessel shall maintain her course and speed, but she may take action to avoid collision if it becomes clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action, or when so close that collision can no longer be avoided by the actions of the give-way vessel alone........"
 
I don't think many people read the rules. So many times I've been in the stand-on position and having to take collision avoidance action because the other guy isn't going to.

Same goes for the sailboat in this case, and she did very well. That how it works on the water ... the other boat screws up and now it is your responsibility to avoid the collision. Making the decision early and decisively maneuvering behind the other bigger and less maneuverable boat/ship stern regardless of your status is a common practice.

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I am the " Chicken " in " Right of way. "

I hate search & rescue for a body.  Delaware River in N J.

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I am amazed by the number of boaters who don't have a clue when it comes to rules and just plain common sense.

 

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I have been on Charted 50' boats where the Captain says to 2nd in command. "take over. I am going below to eat & drink Cyclops goodies. "

The 2nd takes the wheel then proceeds to look around & B S in the channel. I reported him. & he is not doing any wheel work any more. He just is not concerned enough to react quick enough to snorkel freedivers in the small cut thru channels.........Great scenery until a head pops up 150' ahead.

Edit

Who has the right of way in a 1 boat width channel ?             :pirate:

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