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Old 08-16-2019, 01:27 PM   #1
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Traffic on reciprocal course

I think I may be doing something wrong and would like any suggestions.

I have notice this past year that when I am traveling up or down Colvos Passage (1-1.4nm wide channel running North and South in Puget Sound) that often I end up on an exact reciprocal course with other boats. That isn’t unusual given the nature of Colvos Passage. However, I make it a habit when writhing about a 1/2 nm to alter my course to Port or Starboard 15 degrees to give the other boat more room. I pick the direction that appears to increase any offset between our boats rather than crossing the others bow.

It is amazing to me how often the other boater will not only fail to also alter course to give us more room, but will actually turn towards me to very slightly improve improve their angle to the next point on their course. The worse offenders are those cursing at 15+ knots and throwing huge wakes. The large wakes are the reason I want to give us more room.

For example, it just happened a few minutes ago. I was on a reciprocal heading with a 32’ GB heading South. It appeared they were just slightly to the East of my course (although it sure appeared we were on exactly reciprocating tracks), so I altered my course to the West to give us more room. I swear he altered his course slightly to the West as well and we passed about 2 boat lengths apart. Not a big deal in this case as the GB was going a reasonable speed and not putting out much of a wake.

So, am doing something stupid or is there another approach I might take?
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:56 PM   #2
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I think I may be doing something wrong and would like any suggestions.

I have notice this past year that when I am traveling up or down Colvos Passage (1-1.4nm wide channel running North and South in Puget Sound) that often I end up on an exact reciprocal course with other boats. That isn’t unusual given the nature of Colvos Passage. However, I make it a habit when writhing about a 1/2 nm to alter my course to Port or Starboard 15 degrees to give the other boat more room. I pick the direction that appears to increase any offset between our boats rather than crossing the others bow.

It is amazing to me how often the other boater will not only fail to also alter course to give us more room, but will actually turn towards me to very slightly improve improve their angle to the next point on their course. The worse offenders are those cursing at 15+ knots and throwing huge wakes. The large wakes are the reason I want to give us more room.

For example, it just happened a few minutes ago. I was on a reciprocal heading with a 32’ GB heading South. It appeared they were just slightly to the East of my course (although it sure appeared we were on exactly reciprocating tracks), so I altered my course to the West to give us more room. I swear he altered his course slightly to the West as well and we passed about 2 boat lengths apart. Not a big deal in this case as the GB was going a reasonable speed and not putting out much of a wake.

So, am doing something stupid or is there another approach I might take?


Hi, if I read this correctly, you were northbound. COLREGS Rule 14, in head on situations, both boats to turn to starboard for a port to port pass. You turned west, to port and you should have turned east, to starboard.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:24 PM   #3
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As SailorGreg said, turn starboard unless absolutely necessary to turn to port. The rules also state a large enough course correction to be noticeable to the oncoming traffic. I've always thought that needs to be more like 30 degrees. Yes, I know, not always a good idea to turn that much in Colvos.



But.... I doubt that turning only starboard and making a big correction will make any difference. Far too many boaters don't know or won't follow the rules.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:29 PM   #4
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Human factors show people will unconsciously steer at objects because they focus on them.


Also......


People paralleling the coast unconsciously steer towards the beach because of the illusion of the horizon meeting the beach.

In a wide passage, people will both unconsciously do it as stated above and/or conciously do it because they feel you are in safe water and don't perceive that some of us wish they would stay farther away.

While the Navrules would suggest staying to your starboard and turning that way...if opposing traffic suggests a port turn and if it is done WELL in advance with an obvious course change...you were within reasonable seamanship bounds in my opinion.
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Old 08-16-2019, 03:44 PM   #5
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Human factors show people will unconsciously steer at objects because they focus on them.
.
Spot on, psneed. Here in rural Texas where the highways are straight as an arrow for tens of miles, I'm always amazed at the frequent guardrail damage I see. The DWI drivers will manage to drive 20 miles from the nearest bar without running off the road into an open pasture, but somehow manage to crinkle up the only steel guardrail within miles!
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Old 08-16-2019, 05:02 PM   #6
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I always found it helpful in this situation to “over turn” past my desired new course to show the side of my bow to the other boat. I like to hold this course for a minute or so to make it clear that I have taken evasive action as a way of signaling the other captain. I then ease off onto the new course slowly over the next few minutes a degree at a time. Of course, this is at 8.8 kts and not 25 kts......:

If the other guy takes advantage and tries to pinch me, well, there are jerks everywhere...... no sense getting excited about it, I did my best.
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Old 08-16-2019, 06:08 PM   #7
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Good points all.

I normally turn to the direction that will put the greatest distance between us. Today that seemed to be turning to Port. However, maybe I should always turn to starboard if that is a safe course.

I usually turn 15 degrees which seems to me to be a large turn, but maybe I need to increase that.
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:54 PM   #8
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Everyone circle right until we get this sorted out.

I agree, make a BIG course change so he will see it on his RADAR or visually.
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:27 PM   #9
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I agree with Woodland Hills, and of course the Rules, if at all possible.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:27 PM   #10
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Agree the standard maneuver is to turn to starboard. However, ...

Going eastward in southern San Pablo Bay, found myself heading directly toward a recreational trawler which appeared to be the last of several boats, assumed part of a group of club members (observed club burgees) returning to home base which passed me obviously to starboard. So, two toots and turned toward port. Copacetic. Nevertheless, the opposing boat made no course change or signal. He was a yacht club member, after all.

https://www.boat-ed.com/pennsylvania...039_101039081/
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:44 AM   #11
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Agree the standard maneuver is to turn to starboard. However, ...

Going eastward in southern San Pablo Bay, found myself heading directly toward a recreational trawler which appeared to be the last of several boats, assumed part of a group of club members (observed club burgees) returning to home base which passed me obviously to starboard. So, two toots and turned toward port. Copacetic. Nevertheless, the opposing boat made no course change or signal. He was a yacht club member, after all.

https://www.boat-ed.com/pennsylvania...039_101039081/


99 times out of 100 how we deal with oncoming traffic is mostly a convention to keep things orderly, but that does not make it optional. When there is an increased risk of an actual collision, night and fog for example, then it becomes critical that we know and follow the rules; turn to port and make it obvious.
Even on a nice day, with boats moving fast, if one boat gets it backwards, then a collision is possible. And if a collision does happen, you do not want to be the boat that did not follow the COLREGS.
Think about the scenario when things begin to go wrong and despite your turn to starboard, the other boat is still heading towards you, so you turn again. Now you are the stand on vessel.
So Rule 14 is not “ a suggestion”. Not every boat driver knows it, and not every boat driver that knows it, follows it, but unless there is some overriding and critical safety reason, then we all need to follow the rule.
Thee is nothing wrong with a starboard to starboard pass, but it is non-standard so requires communication, meaning both boats need to agree. Just because you gave two whistles, that does not constitute an agreement.
I was on the upper Chesapeake the other night and the tugs were out in force. Even though port to port passes were the norm, every tug talked to every other tug, and me, to get agreement on passing. They left nothing to chance, they assumed nothing.
While I am on this minor rant, the proper radio phrase is “port to port” not “on the one” or “one whistle”. 10-4 good buddy.
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Old 08-17-2019, 07:10 AM   #12
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"on the one" or "on the two" seens to be a common and often preferred radio call by many commercial captains...it does the same as the real whistle signal.


(Inland rules discussed) An actual whistle signal when meeting or crossing means something like "I intend to leave you to port/starboard".... not so much describing an actual pass because many in reality aren't a picture perfect port to port or starboard to starboard pass. In overtaking situations it is more one side of the other vessel. I am overtaking on your "port/starboard side". So I am curious to where the actual language of a pass is determined by regulation.



Is there a reference to the "correct terminology" ? ....as all I have ever seen as both vessels shall be in agreement per the NAVRULEs and the reference to the Vessel Bridge to Bridge Radiotelephone Act but no mention of what should actually be said.


I do agree that a radio or actual whistle agreement should be attempted when in doubt...sometimes required...but that is often ignored by everyone including law enforcement when recreational traffic is high.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:57 AM   #13
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the correct terminology is in the COLREGS:
one whistle: "I intend to leave you on my port side" but note that this is inland, and international one whistle is:"i am altering my course to starboard" which does not say how the pass will be conducted.
First off, I think precise and accurate terminology is important. It is a matter of safety and professionalism.
The practical matter is, for many boaters who only occasionally deal with this sort of chatter, "Meet you on the one" may not mean anything at all. It requires a translation to get to "I intend to leave you on my port side"
Actually, I am hearing less use of the lingo by the professionals and more by the amateurs, maybe trying to sound like professionals.
We should all be mindful of the range of experience of the fellow boaters we encounter. Why talk in lingo when we can just as easily be accurate and precise, and, by the way, in compliance with the regs.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:03 AM   #14
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Using the actual words describing the signal ( not it's definition) seems to work for a lot of people..just like the actual whistle signal...which isn't very common.


Most less experienced boaters I have encountered use port/starboard but not port to xxxx or starboard to xxxxx..they just use one which sometimes is confused and a dangerous situation developes. Thus even hjust saying the whistle signal does make it better....they are supposed to know the rules...why not encourage it?



Still hearing the pro use it regularly and have not seen a accident investigation release telling everyone to change from the USCG or anyone.


And I would still love to see where it is written down so I can adjust and be "in compliance with regulations".
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:37 PM   #15
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I adjust my course to starboard to have some passing room between my boat and an oncoming vessel, on a reciprocal heading when the vessel is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile ahead

If the oncoming boat adjusts course towards me after I moved to starboard, I will turn towards him until he adjusts back to his original course. Then I adjust back to starboard. Might have to do it several times until the other boat gets it. Especially if the shore is close to starboard.

Sometimes I'll cross over to the other side of the boat, if the other boat tries to squeeze me to the shore.

One way to avoid the above in Colbos and other twisty waterways is to go down the center of the channel. Most boaters go point to point in Colvos. When heading south they plot their course close to the port (east) shore at points of land, cutting off any north bound boats at the points.

I have a different route for going north and going south through Colvos to keep me just slightly to starboard of the center. Very few boats travel down the center of Colbos so reduce the chance of reciprocal encounters.

Going down mid channel vs point to point at Colbos adds about 10 minutes for the transit northbound and 15 to 20 minutes southbound.
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:45 PM   #16
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Agree the standard maneuver is to turn to starboard. However, ...

Going eastward in southern San Pablo Bay, found myself heading directly toward a recreational trawler which appeared to be the last of several boats, assumed part of a group of club members (observed club burgees) returning to home base which passed me obviously to starboard. So, two toots and turned toward port. Copacetic. Nevertheless, the opposing boat made no course change or signal. He was a yacht club member, after all.

https://www.boat-ed.com/pennsylvania...039_101039081/
Why not turn to Starboard? Were you right up against the buoys? There's plenty of water outside the channel there. Keeps you out of the way of the ships that come through there too.
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Old 08-17-2019, 07:38 PM   #17
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I adjust my course to starboard to have some passing room between my boat and an oncoming vessel, on a reciprocal heading when the vessel is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile ahead

If the oncoming boat adjusts course towards me after I moved to starboard, I will turn towards him until he adjusts back to his original course. Then I adjust back to starboard. Might have to do it several times until the other boat gets it. Especially if the shore is close to starboard.

Sometimes I'll cross over to the other side of the boat, if the other boat tries to squeeze me to the shore.

One way to avoid the above in Colbos and other twisty waterways is to go down the center of the channel. Most boaters go point to point in Colvos. When heading south they plot their course close to the port (east) shore at points of land, cutting off any north bound boats at the points.

I have a different route for going north and going south through Colvos to keep me just slightly to starboard of the center. Very few boats travel down the center of Colbos so reduce the chance of reciprocal encounters.

Going down mid channel vs point to point at Colbos adds about 10 minutes for the transit northbound and 15 to 20 minutes southbound.

Good suggestions.

I will admit to resorting to old sailing habits and try to use, or avoid, the eddies which you find in Colvos. As such, I often try to avoid the center of the passage. Very little commercial traffic these days in Colvos so that isn’t an issue.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:38 PM   #18
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Forgetting for a moment whether you should have turned starboard or not, I have encountered the phenomenon you faced many times, even in very slow maneuvering approaching a marina, in the ICW, at sea, on rivers. People not on their radios if you try to communicate and don't seem to pay attention to the moves you make. I try to make strong, easy to detect moves, so they have no doubt. It seems though sometimes it does lead them to make a move and now that I know their intent, I go back the other way with no problem.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:48 PM   #19
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On the Great Lakes, at the entrance to Lake St Clair, when I was growing up, the oar carries relied upon whistles sounding because marine radios were few and far between RADAR was in its infancy. (daymn, I'm old) We lived maybe a 1/4 mile from the river and we always knew when it was foggy on the lake and river..... the sounding fog horns.
It would appear now, that way too many pleasure boater do not pay attention to their radios nor understand whistles.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:56 PM   #20
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the correct terminology is in the COLREGS:
one whistle: "I intend to leave you on my port side" but note that this is inland, and international one whistle is:"i am altering my course to starboard" which does not say how the pass will be conducted.
First off, I think precise and accurate terminology is important. It is a matter of safety and professionalism.
The practical matter is, for many boaters who only occasionally deal with this sort of chatter, "Meet you on the one" may not mean anything at all. It requires a translation to get to "I intend to leave you on my port side"
Actually, I am hearing less use of the lingo by the professionals and more by the amateurs, maybe trying to sound like professionals.
We should all be mindful of the range of experience of the fellow boaters we encounter. Why talk in lingo when we can just as easily be accurate and precise, and, by the way, in compliance with the regs.
Can you provide which section of the COLREGS specifies the terminology to be used when making passing arraignments via radio?
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