Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

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jimh
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Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:01 am

On Sunday the weather in the Grand Traverse Bay area was just perfect for boating. We decided to take advantage of the favorable conditions and left Northport for Charlevoix, just to have dinner there and return.

While departing Northport Bay, we found ourselves in a crossing situation with a sailboat. We were heading East and the sailboat was heading North. There was no indication the sailboat was under power. He had his sails up and drawing, and he was on a Port tack; the wind from from the Northwest. In this situation, RULE 18 applies. It says:

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:

(i) a vessel not under command;
(ii) a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
(iii) a vessel engaged in fishing;
(iv) a sailing vessel.


Clearly it was our obligation to stay out of the way of the sailing vessel. We immediately altered course by turning to Starboard, heading to the South, until we could cross astern of the sailboat. Then we altered course to Port, and resumed our Easterly heading. The sailboat then decided that they would come-about, and they tacked over, making their course approximately due West. We altered course again, to increase the distance between us as we were now on reciprocal courses and would pass head-to-head. We bore off again to Starboard, the sailboat passed us, and then we resumed our original course.

After we rounded Northport Point RED 2 Flashing Red 4-seconds Bell buoy, we turned to a course of about 045-True to the Northeast and maintained a speed of around 28-MPH. Once a mile or so from shore, we seemed to be the only boat on the water. However, we did encounter another boater a few minutes later, heading to the Southeast on a course of about 135-True, at right angles to our courseline. It was soon apparent from the constant angle on the bow of the approaching boat that we were in a crossing situation that was going to be very close. The applicable rule of navigation for this situation is RULE 15, which states:

Rule 15 - Crossing Situation

(a) When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.


In the situation we found ourselves in, the approaching vessel was on our Port side, so that vessel was obligated under Rule 15 to keep out of our way and to not cross ahead of us. I began to watch the other vessel closely to see if he would make any alteration in his course to avoid a collision with our boat. I could detect no change in course or speed of the other vessel. As we got closer it became apparent--as crazy as this might seem in such large open water--that we could collide with the other vessel if neither of us altered course.

In this crossing situation I was the "stand-on vessel," but I also had other obligations as explained in RULE 17:

Rule 17- Action by Stand-on Vessel

(a) (i) Where one of two vessels is to keep out of the way, the other shall keep her course and speed.

(ii) The latter vessel may, however, take action to avoid collision by her maneuver alone, as soon as it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action in compliance with these Rules.

(b) When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision.

(c) A power-driven vessel which takes action in a crossing situation in accordance with Rule 17(a)(ii) to avoid collision with another power-driven vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, not alter course to port for a vessel on her own port side.

(d) This Rule does not relieve the give-way vessel of her obligation to keep out of the way.


My first obligation in this crossing situation was to maintain my course and speed. I had been doing exactly that, but as the distance between my boat and the other boat decreased, it was clear that the other boat was taking no action to avoid collision. In that situation, I had to take some action to avoid collision--I really had to do this even thought the rule says only that I "may take action." The other boat was a 40-footer, and I had no desire to collide with him.

Now that I was going to take action to avoid collision as the stand-on vessel, my options were limited. As RULE 17 (c) requires, I should not alter my course to Port. I should only alter course to Starboard.

Altering course to Starboard would have meant turning onto a course that would parallel the oncoming vessel's course and heading. It looked like our speeds were about the same. We would have then been running closely alongside each other, which would not have solved the crossing problem. Instead, I simply pulled back the throttle and came to a rapid stop in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay.

The other vessel made no change in course and speed, and the helmsman appeared to not even glance in our direction. A few seconds later the 40-footer crossed about 100-feet in front of us, throwing off a rather large wake. We bounced through the three-foot high wake, and then resumed our travel. I guess the helmsman of the 40-footer was either:

--completely unaware of our boat and the risk of collision between our boats;

--was aware of the risk of collision but completely unaware of his obligations under RULE 17 to alter course to avoid collision, or,

--he was aware of both the risk of collision and his obligation under RULE 17 and decided to play chicken and see if I would get out of his way first before we collided because he had a bigger boat.

Any thoughts on which of those three situations might be most likely?

In any case, it is a bit disheartening to encounter such poor seamanship and apparent total obliviousness of the navigation rules from another boater.

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jimp
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimp » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:15 am

jimh -

I ran into similar situations twice this summer. One here in Juneau while trolling for salmon and one on Long Island just cruising.

While trolling in my 22' Revenge at 1.7 knots (really moving) another salmon fisherman (20-ft boat) was approaching steady bearing, decreasing range off my port bow (right angle crossing). At the speed we were traveling I had some time to study the situation. He was watching me... somewhat and when he was 40-ft away it was apparent that I would T-bone him in the stern, so as "circumstances of the case admit" I swung left full rudder to cross his stern. I passed 20-feet astern of him and hoped that I would cut his lines, but didn't. The guy was totally unaware of his responsibilities and gave me a look that said, "Why the heck are you getting so close to me?".

On Long Island, mom & pop (seemed like complete novices) approached on my port bow with their 22-ft cuddy cabinat about 15-knots and never looked as they cut across my bow. I was traveling at about 20-knots and again, I altered significantly to port as the "circumstances of the case admit" because that was the way I was going to go and I had plenty of room to maneuver, they were still 50-yards away. Not once did they look my way. My wife and daughter were watching also.

In both cases the operator of the other boat was clueless.

jimp

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:57 pm

jimp--I guess clueless boat operators are not limited to the Great Lakes.

By the way, the conditions on the open waters of Grand Traverse Bay and then Lake Michigan were so favorable that we could maintain our preferred cruising speed of 28-MPH all the way across to the eastern shore, where we arrived a bit sooner than we had planned, having allowed much more time for the crossing in case we had to reduce speed. We tucked in behind Fisherman Island and set an anchor. Then took a swim in the sandy cove to cool off and take up some time, so that we would arrive at Charlevoix at our scheduled 4:30 p.m. rendezvous hour--we were meeting some relatives coming by car from Indian RIver. About 3:45 p.m. we hauled in the anchor and got underway for Charlevoix, which is just around the corner.

Wouldn't you know it, but as we approached the entrance channel at Charlevoix from the lake, we had a repeat encounter with another larger power-driven vessel approach on our Port side and on a collision course. This played out exactly as before, with the on-coming larger and high-speed vessel maintaining his course and speed and us coming to a sudden stop to avoid a collision or extremely close pass. Maybe these guys travel in pairs?

To round out the story, we had a great dinner with four dear friends at a lakeshore restaurant. The city marina gave us a no-cost courtesy dock for the boat--their main slips were all taken but they found a spot for our smaller outboard to tie up for three hours. And by the time we left the inlet about 7:40 p.m. the wind had died completely and the big lake was as calm as it gets.

As we were just at the end of the break-walled channel and heading West into the lake, I saw the big passenger ferry EMERALD ISLE approaching from our starboard bow quarter, coming in from Beaver Island. The ferry was making a rather good speed, and it was not clear to me if we could turn to port and safely cross her bow, as our desired course was to the Southwest. But a moment later I saw that she had greatly reduced her speed, and was now moving very slowly toward the harbor entrance channel. I think she might have been slowing down both for the purpose of entering the channel at low speed and perhaps to kill a little time. A big ship like EMERALD ISLE needs the highway bascule bridge to open to allow passage, and the bridge only raises the draw on the hour and half-hour. With her speed reduced, we then made a hard turn to port, crossed ahead of her, and took off. Had she not cut her speed back to almost no forward way, I was going to bear off to starboard and pass astern of her.

The run back to Northport was beautiful. The sun was lowering, the water smooth, and our boat ran just beautifully on plane all the way. We made the 25-mile return run in about 50-minutes, and ran at 30-MPH most of the way. It was a great afternoon and evening for boating. We don't normally make 55-mile runs in the late afternoon just for dinner, but the conditions were just right on this Sunday. It made for a very nice combination of boating, getting together with friends and relatives, and an excellent dinner.

Here is a short motion picture recording of our boat running on plane departing from Charlevoix on Lake Michigan:

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/movies ... ug2016.m4v

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jimp
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimp » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:57 pm

Love to see them underway.

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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:43 am

jimh wrote:--completely unaware of our boat and the risk of collision between our boats;

--was aware of the risk of collision but completely unaware of his obligations under RULE 17 to alter course to avoid collision, or,

--he was aware of both the risk of collision and his obligation under RULE 17 and decided to play chicken and see if I would get out of his way first before we collided because he had a bigger boat.

Any thoughts on which of those three situations might be most likely?



Choice #4, just another moronic boater that has no business being on a boat.

Although I have a 100 ton masters, I have sat in the USCG auxiliary class multiple times.
1st time for me when I was first boating and working on dive boats as a deck hand.
Then in subsequent years when we had our own boats, with my wife and 3 kids, each class several years apart.

The one constant I always took away from those classes were that there are a lot of people out boating that have no business doing so.

30+ years experience now and I know that there are still a lot of people that have no business being on the water, some are just inexperienced, some are just ignorant and some just don't give a crap because they are in the bigger vessel. And then there are those in government boats that may just be doing as they please. Only happened once while diving that I had to request, then order a USCG 41 UTB to alter course. Although I have many incidents while anchored and diving with both commercial and pleasure boats.

Nothing like having a 80-100' steel fishing boat on autopilot and no one at the helm to raise the pucker factor.

Your incident above, how where the other people on your boat?

Is always a lively conversation when my wife is on board, although she usually has some knowledge of rules and operations, it never fails that she always manages to give me room for doubt.
Last edited by porthole on Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wweez
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby Wweez » Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:04 am

We do make mistakes out there.
But most boat operators drive them like cars, and believe that is ok.
The white line and signs telling them what to do and where to go are missing.
Now we are to the thinking part and many just do not want to do that.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:53 pm

Even in automobiles, if you come to an uncontrolled intersection the rule is to yield to the car on your right. That is the same as RULE 15 for two power-driven vessels.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:06 pm

"Choice #4, just another moronic boater that has no business being on a boat." Absolutely. Aren't you guys familiar with Moron Rule #1? I quote- "If my boat is bigger than yours, then you are not there". That rule applies to either coast and inland too. Here's my latest Moron encounter. I'm drifting along a fairly wide channel fishing for Summer Flounder. I see a 20 something foot large aluminum work boat with two big push-bars on the bow making way slowly towards me. With my drift I expect him to pass easily to Port of me. But instead he is now coming towards me and I look around to see if another craft is in his way- but there is none. So why is he aiming straight at me? This continues until I get the feeling he is intent on ramming me and I reach down to start the motor. He is not moving very fast and I can see someone inside the stand-up cabin. He is looking down at something like when the idiot behind you at a stop light is looking at their cell phone and slowly rolling up on you. Now he is very close and those push-bars are going to really hurt if he hits me. I reach down to put the motor in gear- that is when he finally looks up- sees how he is about to ram me- and he turns and stops. Then he sticks his head out of the cabin and asks what kind of fish I'm catching. My answer to him is not printable on here.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby Dutchman » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:46 am

I love choice #4 too and Jim i bet you those two larger motor vessels didn't have a MC registration number, more likely a IL or WI number as I see that almost every weekend here on Lame Michigan coming into or out of one of the harbor entrances.
Having an Admiral on board I never have the right of way no matter if I'm the stand on vessel. Luckily our Whalers have throttles for going slower or faster.
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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:56 am

Washington State Ferry hits a boat near Vashon Island

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtZJ__8PVDU

Make sure you look to see the vessel's name as well.

The ferry

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vesselwatch/VesselDetail.aspx?vessel_id=65
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:17 pm

The smaller boat in this crossing situation involving two power-driven vessels was to "keep her course and speed" according to Rule #17.

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent#rule17

But that smaller vessel was also obligated by that same rule to "take such action as will best aid to avoid collision."

The ferry was in a crossing situation with another vessel that was on the ferry's starboard side. The ferry was supposed to alter course to avoid a collision under Rule #15

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent#rule15

The real question to be decided: will the smaller vessel's insurer pay for the damage?

A newspaper article at

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/watch-boat-called-nap-tyme-collides-with-washington-state-ferry-near-vashon-island/

quotes a spokesman for the ferry as saying:

As far as we know the person driving [the smaller] boat...was below deck [when it collided with the ferry].


An interesting discussion on gCaptain.com suggests a further violation involved: the smaller boat appears to not be maintaining any sort of lookout, as required by Rule #5:

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent#rule5

gCaptain also suggests that failure to comply with Rule #5 (have a look out) has greater weight or precedence in determining fault.

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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:46 pm

The linked video really does not give us enough information. Best I can tell, the video starts after at least one danger signal. That's assuming the horn blast at the very beginning is the 5th sound of the set.

Another view
Image
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:48 pm

By the way, what I like best about the video of the collision: the person making the recording was holding the camera with the proper orientation. To see a motion picture recording with the camera held correctly is becoming quite rare these days.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:49 pm

What is that smaller boat behind the yacht? It is not seen in the recording.

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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:50 pm

jimh wrote:By the way, what I like best about the video of the collision: the person making the recording was holding the camera with the proper orientation. To see a motion picture recording with the camera held correctly is becoming quite rare these days.

So true. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt9zSfinwFA
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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:52 pm

jimh wrote:What is that smaller boat behind the yacht? It is not seen in the recording.


No idea, but it kind of looks like a "Can", so maybe the channel marker?
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby JMARTIN » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:06 pm

Wowsee, that guy is lucky. If the ferry was moving any faster, it looks like he would have rolled right underneath her. I have a friend who is a Washington State ferry boat captain. He wishes that more recreational boaters would remember to look behind them more often. Ferries move along at a pretty good clip and all of a sudden there is something very large right there.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:23 pm

PORT--I listened carefully to the recording of the crossing. I agree with you: at the very first second or two of the recording the dying echoes of a horn signal (presumed to be made by the ferry) can be heard, and this may be a reasonable inference that the ferry had already been sounding its whistle in an attempt to alert the crossing boat of the danger of the situation.

The whistle signal heard later in the recording seems like FIVE SHORT but the third whistle of the group is slightly longer than the other four. But it is not long enough to be a "prolonged" signal, so I would characterize the signal as FIVE SHORT. The meaning of FIVE SHORT is given in Rule #34:

(d) When vessels in sight of one another are approaching each other and from any cause either vessel fails to understand the intentions or actions of the other, or is in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other to avoid collision, the vessel in doubt shall immediately indicate such doubt by giving at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle....


Thus I think it is safe to say the ferry was sounding and had been already sounding its whistle to alert the other vessel that his action in this crossing situation was not clearly understood.

Also note that the signal is "at least five short and rapid blasts", so you can sound more than five.

There is no whistle signal called a long whistle. The proper term is a "prolonged blast." This is also defined in RULE #32:

The term "prolonged blast" means a blast of from four to six seconds' duration.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:36 pm

PORT--where did the image you posted come from?

As for the other object being an aid-to-navigation, if it is an aid-to-navigation then:

--it is a really big one for a floating aid-to-navigation; it looks like it is about ten feet long

--it does not appear on the NOAA chart for that area; maybe it is a privately-maintained aid to navigation.

As far as I can tell the ferry is approaching its terminal on Vaschon Island. I take that cue from the title of the youTube posting, "Washington State Ferry hits a boat near Vashon Island." Also the perspective seen in the recording seems to fit best with that coarse.

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Re: Seamanship and Navigation Rules

Postby porthole » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:08 pm

jimh wrote:PORT--where did the image you posted come from?

As for the other object being an aid-to-navigation, if it is an aid-to-navigation then:

--it is a really big one for a floating aid-to-navigation; it looks like it is about ten feet long

--it does not appear on the NOAA chart for that area; maybe it is a privately-maintained aid to navigation.

As far as I can tell the ferry is approaching its terminal on Vaschon Island. I take that cue from the title of the youTube posting, "Washington State Ferry hits a boat near Vashon Island." Also the perspective seen in the recording seems to fit best with that coarse.


The image was grabbed from one of the Seattle news sites.

If you watch the video with your mouse on the pause button, you can plainly see the ferry dock in the background. Iff you GOOGLE MAPS or maps.live.com the area you can see the dock and in some sites the ferry path. Looking at the big picture, it would appear the ferry is crossing the waterway. I have also read that the area is depth constrained and the ferry may have been operating in a channel.

[Changed topic to begin to discuss comments posted on other other sites.]
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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby jimh » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:50 pm

Seeing the dock does not confirm which direction the ferry was headed. But I am confident it was approaching Vashon Island.

I don't find it particularly informative to discuss the discussions on other websites. I prefer to just discuss the facts--as far as they can be known--about the incident.

I have looked at the most recent NOAA charts. There are no aids-to-navigation marking any sort of channel in the area and the water depth seems quite deep in the vicinity of where the collision occurred.

After watching the recording several times, there does appear to be some sort of shoal ground that appears to starboard of the smaller vessel. I see a brown area in the water, like a shoal breaking above the surface. I don't see this charted. But it does seem to limit the options of the smaller vessel to turn to starboard to avoid the ferry.

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Re: Seasmanship and Navigation Rules

Postby JMARTIN » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:05 pm

I think the "brown area in the water" is a seaweed island, A floating glob of kelp, eel grass, and some sticks. Watch it when the wake hits. If it was a shoal, it would be on the chart.

John