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Old 09-12-2016, 10:39 AM   #61
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GFC, thank you for sharing your experience. Exposing yourself to such scrutiny for the sake of collective learning and increased awareness is commendable. Debriefing such events can be good for all of us, especially if it can be done objectively without berating each other. I also think it is to be expected that we are interested to go through it with a fine tooth comb.




Can you clarify the sailboats light display? (Edit: I just noticed post 56 where you cleared it up) You said 360 degree light and it's green starboard light. Are you referring to the tricolor as the 360 or was it displaying it's anchor light. Either case would have been incorrect as a sailboat should not display both the tricolor and deck level navigational lights but it is commonly done and it certainly shouldn't have displayed an all around white but others have pointed out, an anchor light would appear as a steaming light even if it is at the top of the mast, typically when motor sailing there is no headsail so a steaming light halfway up the mast would show but if you are motor sailing with a jib/genoa it would be obscured from leeward.


You also said that the sailboat was moving very slowly when you first saw it, yet your diagram shows the yellow path being roughly 3-4 times longer than your path from point D to the point of intersection. I'm sure your diagram isn't to perfect scale and distances are hard to estimate at night, but you must have been moving extremely slowly for this diagram to match the event. If his final course was a starboard tack broad reach, he would have been going straight upwind from point A to B.


Most of us spend very little time on the water at night and it is skill that requires a lot of practice for true proficiency. It can feel so vacant on the water, that many are lulled into a false sense of solitude. If you were moving as slowly as the your diagram would suggest, he probably didn't distinguish your lights from those on shore behind you. Personally, taking 1/8 - 1/4 mile away from you was not a failure to Stand On, given the location, that is a relatively long distance away and should have been plenty of time for the burdened vessel to avoid him. He also has a responsibility to himself to live to see tomorrow and he could have been more defensive.


(If he was on a indeed on a starboard broad reach, the diagram is accurate and the wind didn't shift, he didn't tack at between C and where your paths met, he just bore away)
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:47 AM   #62
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Thats the wrong attitude to have, but that is the attitude a lot of rec boaters have. The "I dont care" causes a lot of damage, injuries and death. I bet thats why the sail boat turned right in front of you. I bet he didnt care enough to learn the rules. If you think you're responsible enough to own a boat, be reaponsible enough to keep people safe and not put your vessel in a position that it wouldnt have been in had you known the rules. This isnt directed only to you GCF, its directed to everyone.
Preaching the rules doesn't keep anyone safe. I know the rules and GCF never said he didn't care, but basically the rules were irrelevant in his situation. You can't depend on everyone knowing the rules and if you're going to take the attitude "I know the rules, I'm in the right. It's his fault if he doesn't" then you're going to have far more accidents than the operator who always drives defensively and yields even when the rules say he has the right of way.

I've yielded hundreds of times to other boats that were in the wrong according to the rules. However, I did so out of two motivations. One was safety and one was courtesy. I've encountered boats doing their best to take every inch of a wide channel and cutting every corner of every curve short. I've used my horn to notify a boat I was passing when they didn't respond on the radio and then they turned straight in front of me. What should I have done then, kept going into them because the rules said I did right. There's a balance. I consider rules important. However, they can not be used in lieu of empirical knowledge. Rules can be used 100% when you reach a time in history where everyone will follow those rules perfectly. To my knowledge, we aren't there.

This isn't rocket science. There were two boats. Both probably made mistakes in one regard or another or could have done things better. One, and only one, took evasive action to avoid an accident. This isn't a court of law where the rules will be presented after the accident and loss of lives and the attorney's will argue over who was right and who was wrong. That outcome was avoided. Oh, and incidentally, with a jury trial, you can bet the rules won't go but so far either as they'll get confused and resort to common sense and any attorney suing for wrongful death will always seek a jury trial.

GCF is not an "I don't care" type boater. However, he is a practical experienced boater who cared about avoiding an accident. I think he could have done a couple of things better, which he acknowledges, but knowing the rules wasn't going to help him avoid an accident in this case. It was observation and action.
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:51 AM   #63
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the original statement was that he had a 360 degree light on his mast top...if white....he wasn't a sailing vessel even with sails up.
Come on.... His anchor light may have been on, but he was moving and was under sail. He was in violation of the rules by leaving the light on but that doesn't change the fact that he was under sail. The light also had no influence on the incident or the outcome. If anything, it made the boat more visible. FWIW, I have also used the flashlight on the sail trick at night, even though it tends to trash our own night vision.

There was no collision solely because GFC avoided it. That was his job as captain and he fulfilled it. I appreciate him mentioning the incident because I can learn from it.

FWIW, for those of you who have NOT been sailors keep in mind that it is not always possible for a sailboat to continue on a given course. This may be more important in the waters in which I boat, but wind directions change. There have been countless times when tacking up along a shore that we get headed (wind direction change to come more from the direction we want to go) and have to tack to avoid sailing into the shore. This sucks, but that is what inland sailing is all about. I am not saying that this is what happened in this case, but it is easier for sailors to predict the actions of sailboats that may seem completely random otherwise.

I agree with GFC that the skipper of the sailboat made a grave error for allowing the distance to close to the point where GFC felt that only evasive action would prevent a collision. It was careless and dangerous of the skipper. We don't know what series of events had occurred on the sailboat that resulted in that error. Maybe the skipper handed the helm over to his wife while going below to chat with a guest or use the head?

However, that doesn't negate the fact that GFC's boat should never have allowed the situation to get that close either.

About a month ago I was going South in Puget Sound on a busy day. Lots of sailboats out as the weather was pretty amazing. I was tracking a 50' sailboat that was beating upwind and on a closing course. I was watching him carefully and felt that there was no risk of a collision. However, the approach was too close for his comfort and he tacked away. I could tell at the 50 yard separation he was very upset with me. I attempted to contact him on the radio to apologize, but no answer. It was a good lesson for me. I knew the situation, was comfortable that there was no risk of collision, and was ready to take action if things changed, however there was no way the other captain would know that and he took appropriate action. He was the stand on vessel and he did not stand on. He was entirely in the right and I most definitely was in the wrong.

It is much better to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others when they are not costly in life, limb, and damage to our boats. I appreciate that GFC brought this up.
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:53 AM   #64
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GFC, you shared something and got really beat up over it. It's the TF way, we eat our siblings here.

You learned something you will never forget, and nobody got hurt, so all is well.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:55 AM   #65
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Preaching the rules doesn't keep anyone safe. I know the rules and GCF never said he didn't care, but basically the rules were irrelevant in his situation. You can't depend on everyone knowing the rules and if you're going to take the attitude "I know the rules, I'm in the right. It's his fault if he doesn't" then you're going to have far more accidents than the operator who always drives defensively and yields even when the rules say he has the right of way.

I've yielded hundreds of times to other boats that were in the wrong according to the rules. However, I did so out of two motivations. One was safety and one was courtesy. I've encountered boats doing their best to take every inch of a wide channel and cutting every corner of every curve short. I've used my horn to notify a boat I was passing when they didn't respond on the radio and then they turned straight in front of me. What should I have done then, kept going into them because the rules said I did right. There's a balance. I consider rules important. However, they can not be used in lieu of empirical knowledge. Rules can be used 100% when you reach a time in history where everyone will follow those rules perfectly. To my knowledge, we aren't there.

This isn't rocket science. There were two boats. Both probably made mistakes in one regard or another or could have done things better. One, and only one, took evasive action to avoid an accident. This isn't a court of law where the rules will be presented after the accident and loss of lives and the attorney's will argue over who was right and who was wrong. That outcome was avoided. Oh, and incidentally, with a jury trial, you can bet the rules won't go but so far either as they'll get confused and resort to common sense and any attorney suing for wrongful death will always seek a jury trial.

GCF is not an "I don't care" type boater. However, he is a practical experienced boater who cared about avoiding an accident. I think he could have done a couple of things better, which he acknowledges, but knowing the rules wasn't going to help him avoid an accident in this case. It was observation and action.
Knowing the rules wont keep people safe? I've heard it all now. To hell with rules, I'll remember that next time I'm northbound in the Mississippi River on a loaded tanker!
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:58 AM   #66
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Sailboat probably never saw you. Good job avoiding the collision. I would have given him 5 short and a few choice words as he passed in front.
Seriously? What would you have said? "You should have been more careful to keep me, the give way vessel, from hitting you?" That would be like honking at a pedestrian in a crosswalk who is crossing on a green as you run a red light.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:05 AM   #67
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Hope one of the eye docs can confirm this....

in USCG aviation... I was often told something similar to this....that night vision of a 40 year old is only half of a 20 year olds and the night vision of a 60 year old is only half of a 40 year olds.

that's independent of visual acuity...but I guess even there there is some connection....

Eye docs? Help!!!!!

even if that's a fairy tale...I am pretty sure night vision as you age degrades faster than many senses.
Yes, night vision gets worse with age. There are a few reasons for that. The uniformed services (particularly the NAVY, USCG, and Army Air Corp/USAF) have done some of the best research in the area and have traditionally done the best job in teaching their personnel. I am not sure how much the latter is true in this day and age.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:06 AM   #68
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Were they reportedly both collisions or allisions? There are far more of the latter, than of the former.
Don't know him, don't want to either. "Reportedly" an allision. I am guessing a steel bouy. Not highly relevant to the discussion, just illustrating the fact we all know that people hit things, moving and otherwise.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:09 AM   #69
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I to appreciate Mike's posting of this event. It reminded me how much refreshing I need to do on lighting regs and to some extent rules of the road. However while this bring these questions of whose actions are correct or not. Somewhere when operating a vessel common sense trumps all. I'm sure Mike's boat was very visible, in my mind anyone in the stick boat if paying attention would choose to go behind the approaching boat. I have seen too many times where boats turn in front of approaching vessels causing it to take immediate action to avoid a accident. Safety is paramount and to this I say good job Mike and Tina, clearly you were the ones operating your vessel in a responsible manner...
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:09 AM   #70
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Sailboat masthead lights can be a problem for me. I had one tacking across a river and with his heel the lights were barely visible. Also my eyes are generally scanning lower down where most small boat running lights are. And the tacks can be unpredictable. I think some sailboaters like challenging powerboats as some sort of sick sport.
In heavier wind, the leeward lights of a sailboat can be hard to spot. As a kid I was on plenty of overnight sailboat races. It was challenging at times spotting all the boats when tacking to windward.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:16 AM   #71
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Never underestimate another boater's arrogance or just stupidity, never assume that a sailor is not also motoring notwithstanding the lack of a "steaming" light on his mast, never take your eyes or your radar off of a sailboat in such closed quarters; expect it to jibe into your way! Learn to navigate at night and learn situational awareness and understand your eyes' slow adjustment to light conditions (don't have a boat light up like a christmas tree thinking it's cool). Don't be so naive as to bring up the "tonnage" excuse unless you are restricted in your own ability to manoeuver.
These points I bring up in general, not necessarily directly relating to your event.
If you had a vessel come within 15 yards of your bows at night in darkness and was a surprise to you, then you missed or failed some of the above points and probably more.
...
I command you for putting it out! A good lesson for those who may be listening, because I see a lot of near misses such as described here......
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:17 AM   #72
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Preaching the rules doesn't keep anyone safe.

...

I've yielded hundreds of times to other boats that were in the wrong according to the rules. However, I did so out of two motivations. One was safety and one was courtesy. I've encountered boats doing their best to take every inch of a wide channel and cutting every corner of every curve short. I've used my horn to notify a boat I was passing when they didn't respond on the radio and then they turned straight in front of me. What should I have done then, kept going into them because the rules said I did right. There's a balance. I consider rules important. However, they can not be used in lieu of empirical knowledge. Rules can be used 100% when you reach a time in history where everyone will follow those rules perfectly. To my knowledge, we aren't there.
I agree 100%. There are many cases where a 5 degree course correction made 1/2 mile away will ensure a safe separation rather than waiting until a you are within 20 yards away, the burdened vessel is not changing course and now a 90 degree course change is required. I instruct sailing and frequently have students questioning the intricacies of standing on. While the stand on vessel does need to avoid major course corrections to allow the burdened vessel to find a safe course to avoid you, if you can avoid a close call through a minor course change early on, the burdened vessel probably won't noticed that you turned 5-10 degrees. Most recreational power boaters are traveling far above planning speeds and view sailboats as stationary objects anyway.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:22 AM   #73
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Knowing the rules wont keep people safe? I've heard it all now. To hell with rules, I'll remember that next time I'm northbound in the Mississippi River on a loaded tanker!
While never sure of course, I would bet anything that is definitely NOT was BandB meant. I am pretty sure that you probably know that as well.

FWIW, despite my 50 years of experience on the water, I am an amateur at best. I really do appreciate that professionals such as yourself know the rules and adhere to them. It makes the boating experience much safer for me.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:24 AM   #74
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Preaching the rules doesn't keep anyone safe. I know the rules and GCF never said he didn't care, but basically the rules were irrelevant in his situation. You can't depend on everyone knowing the rules and if you're going to take the attitude "I know the rules, I'm in the right. It's his fault if he doesn't" then you're going to have far more accidents than the operator who always drives defensively and yields even when the rules say he has the right of way.

I've yielded hundreds of times to other boats that were in the wrong according to the rules. However, I did so out of two motivations. One was safety and one was courtesy. I've encountered boats doing their best to take every inch of a wide channel and cutting every corner of every curve short. I've used my horn to notify a boat I was passing when they didn't respond on the radio and then they turned straight in front of me. What should I have done then, kept going into them because the rules said I did right. There's a balance. I consider rules important. However, they can not be used in lieu of empirical knowledge. Rules can be used 100% when you reach a time in history where everyone will follow those rules perfectly. To my knowledge, we aren't there.
I can only agree with what was said.
The navigation rules is one thing, but too much often the reality underway is quite another.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:26 AM   #75
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Come on.... His anchor light may have been on, but he was moving and was under sail. He was in violation of the rules by leaving the light on but that doesn't change the fact that he was under sail. The light also had no influence on the incident or the outcome. If anything, it made the boat more visible. FWIW, I have also used the flashlight on the sail trick at night, even though it tends to trash our own night vision.

There was no collision solely because GFC avoided it. That was his job as captain and he fulfilled it. I appreciate him mentioning the incident because I can learn from it.

FWIW, for those of you who have NOT been sailors keep in mind that it is not always possible for a sailboat to continue on a given course. This may be more important in the waters in which I boat, but wind directions change. There have been countless times when tacking up along a shore that we get headed (wind direction change to come more from the direction we want to go) and have to tack to avoid sailing into the shore. This sucks, but that is what inland sailing is all about. I am not saying that this is what happened in this case, but it is easier for sailors to predict the actions of sailboats that may seem completely random otherwise.

I agree with GFC that the skipper of the sailboat made a grave error for allowing the distance to close to the point where GFC felt that only evasive action would prevent a collision. It was careless and dangerous of the skipper. We don't know what series of events had occurred on the sailboat that resulted in that error. Maybe the skipper handed the helm over to his wife while going below to chat with a guest or use the head?

However, that doesn't negate the fact that GFC's boat should never have allowed the situation to get that close either.

About a month ago I was going South in Puget Sound on a busy day. Lots of sailboats out as the weather was pretty amazing. I was tracking a 50' sailboat that was beating upwind and on a closing course. I was watching him carefully and felt that there was no risk of a collision. However, the approach was too close for his comfort and he tacked away. I could tell at the 50 yard separation he was very upset with me. I attempted to contact him on the radio to apologize, but no answer. It was a good lesson for me. I knew the situation, was comfortable that there was no risk of collision, and was ready to take action if things changed, however there was no way the other captain would know that and he took appropriate action. He was the stand on vessel and he did not stand on. He was entirely in the right and I most definitely was in the wrong.

It is much better to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others when they are not costly in life, limb, and damage to our boats. I appreciate that GFC brought this up.
I am a sailor and out sail most of my friends with saiboats...plus the trophies to prove it.

Lights are lights...that's all you have at night barring a conversation on the radio...which back east is all to often is fruitless with sailboat.

And you are making my poiunt. If his anchor light was on, then he was a power vessel whether he meant to signal that or not. If so, he should have given way, but didn't , and GFC still avoided a collision despite his lack of combat quarters on the bridge or highly professional training several times a year in a simulator.

Plus the sailboat seeing another vessel could have done something...which I have no idea what he saw...buy stopping a 30 or less something sailboat in a couple boat lengths is easy as pie too. Or the possible ...the sailboats skipper had his head someplace seeing any lights wasn't possible.

Holy mackeral, we can make a shi*storm out of apple pie.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:27 AM   #76
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Were they reportedly both collisions or allisions? There are far more of the latter, than of the former.
You made my day! I have a strong vocabulary and it is an exceedingly rare and pleasant experience to come across a term that I am unfamiliar with. I have never heard the term "allision" and had no idea what it meant. Thanks!
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:33 AM   #77
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This is a good discussion and hopefully we can all take away some knowledge from it.

We just can't be too safe.

Thanks for posting, Mike.

However, you did make a few mistakes, and we can all learn from them. Your captain lost track of the sailboat that eventually presented a hazard. You assumed the sail boat saw you, you really don't know. And, we really don't know if he's a bonehead any more than the rest of us.

However, after reading this, I'm going to do a few things.

I'm going to be more aggressive about safety at night and assign someone as a second observer... not just a casual, keep a look out.

And, when underway with my Admiral, we will have a rule that we were err on the side of safety always. If another boat "seems" like it could be a hazard, or if either one of us are uncomfortable with the current plane, we will go to plan B.

FWIW, I've had TWO potential threats in the past few days....
One I was the sailing vessel, and a pleasure boat showed up that I had no clue was there as I was tacking right across his path (no wake zone). Fortunately he had slowed and worked out fine.
Anther was at night, I was in the pleasure boat in a fairly well lit area. I saw the lights of the boat coming, but still maneuvered out of the channel (I knew the water, well, and would be leaving the channel anyway in another 1/2 mile.) I can't believe he didn't see us, but he motored at planing speed right down the center of the channel.

Thanks again, for the lesson.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:42 AM   #78
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Continuez, il n'y a plus rien voir ici.
Oui, tout est bien qui finit bien Mike, il n'y a plus rien voir, et tu as bien fait ce qu'il fallait faire, comme toujours !

Now let us get back to the essential part of your cruise. "A boat full of women" you said ? Where are the pics ?

I trust everybody will agree to that.

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Old 09-12-2016, 11:52 AM   #79
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We used to go to the July 4th fireworks by boat. It was nice to be right under the shells. But we stopped, as it was just too dangerous. I don't drink, but have determined (using unscientific methods) that 100% of other boaters do. Aquapalooza got cancelled in my area (everywhere?) due to the rampant stupidity.

So my rules are simple. Stay away from other boats. If close encounters are unavoidable, remember that the other boat is being driven by a computer or a drunken idiot. Expecting either to know the Colregs is dangerous.

And at night, everything is worse.
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:57 AM   #80
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Man...compared to many here I guess..... I let the goobers do what they want and pleasure boat whenever I want.

If I had to deal with them when towing...operating a single boat with single engine and no thruster is still easy enough to keep from hitting someone unless they are flying and hit me with no possibility of escape.
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