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Old 09-12-2019, 10:29 PM   #1
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What would you have done

So we are putting along at 5 knots returning back to our Marina after a great day on the water. We are in a long straight very narrow shallow channel that serves as access to a large city owned mooring field on my Port side. On my Starboard side is a very shallow flat (about 2 ft deep to nothing). This marked dedicated channel is 50 - 60 foot wide at best and is no more than 7 - 8 feet deep at high tide. The channel is used to access your specific mooring location, is used by the local charter fishing fleet, AND is the only access route for large boats to access our Marina. I am in a 53' Carver Voyager Pilothouse MotorYacht. I draft 4’ 9” empty!! The mooring field averages 5 foot deep. We were at low tide.

About half way down the channel, I see a small center console boat crossways
in the channel and it appears to not be moving. It was not in the center of the channel, but just off center towards the right side, which was my starboard. A quick look with my binoculars and I see that it is anchored and I see a divers flag. (It is Lobster season here in FL). And the anchor line (rope), was coming up from the middle of the channel. There was a stiff crosswind blowing port to starboard. I thought, you have to be kidding, right!!

As I got closer, I could see 2 snorkelers in the water around the boat. I know to steer far and wide when approaching divers in the water. But that was not an option for me. I slowed my speed down as slow as I could possibly go without going into neutral. Did I mention there was a stiff crosswind? My boat has a very high profile and the wind is not my friend. If I would have stopped forward progress to wait and see if the idiots would get out of the channel, the wind would have quickly pushed me into the shallow flat to my starboard. As I got within about 100 feet of the boat, one of the guys saw us approaching and actually swam out further into the channel towards us. So I moved to the port side of the channel as much as I could and then very carefully started to ease past them. And now due to the design and size of my boat I cannot see them or the boat, as I am driving up top and my helm is on the port side. My wife though, is watching them for me. I had to pass within about 25 feet of the bow of the boat AND the snorkeler!! Just about the time we are even with them, I hear my wife yell out, "Because you are anchored in the freaking channel you idiot!!!". I asked her was that necessary and she said yes, because he was waving both arms yelling "WTF" at her!! Let me just say, my wife does not take kindly to being cussed at when she knows she is in the right. Then she said he flipped her off!! She was not a happy camper at that point.

So, how do you guys deal with idiots? What should I have done differently? What would you have done? As I stated, to stop forward progress would have meant being pushed into shallow water. I did my absolute best in determining that there was no one in front of me in the water as I passed them, but this entire incident has really bothered me.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:44 PM   #2
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Securite, securite, securite. All mariners be advised there is an anchored small vessel and snorklers blocking the channel at ......
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:50 PM   #3
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Call to harbor patrol.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:55 PM   #4
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Let your wife handle it. She has good instincts. They were complete idiots. Regs state you must make "reasonable" efforts to avoid them and can pass them with enough speed to maintain "headway and steerageway." You apparently did just that.

You might look into "rolling coal" in case they anchor in the channel again
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:59 PM   #5
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Let your wife handle it. She has good instincts. They were complete idiots. Regs state you must make "reasonable" efforts to avoid them and can pass them with enough speed to maintain "headway and steerageway." You apparently did just that.

You might look into "rolling coal" in case they anchor in the channel again
Ok So What, I give! Whats "Rolling Coal"?
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:59 PM   #6
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In all seriousness, it sounds like you and your wife handled the situation with skill, care and the appropriate level of tact. If the person running the center console didn't get the message, the next boat to come down the same channel probably clarified it. Or maybe not . . . ignorant people in boats do breathtakingly thoughtless and risky things that simultaneously amaze me and yet no longer surprise me. Gotta do your best to forget it and move on.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:11 PM   #7
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Did well! Not even "discussing" their stupidity until they complained about your presence as you carefully navigated around them. Definitely lodge a report with whoever polices the area, esp if you have boat registration info.
We`ve been abused by fishers in a moored dinghy occupying the channel leading under a bridge. Pure selfish stupidity.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:10 AM   #8
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Break out your phone and have the wife video it. Get their registration numbers in it. At least it will document your efforts to pass safely and at best LE may educate them.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:16 AM   #9
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You did exactly right, and your wife sounds like a keeper. The only addition I might have made would have been five blasts of the horn.

You might also have announced over the hailer the dangerous situation that they had created.
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:35 AM   #10
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If I was unsure whether the snorkelers had seen me, I would have pointed into the wind alternated in & out of gear to remain in a stable position until I was sure they spotted me and cleared the area.
It doesn't matter whether they should or shouldn't be anchored or diving there. Do whatever is necessary to avoid a bad situation.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:52 AM   #11
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https://myfwc.com/boating/regulations/



Boaters must make reasonable efforts to stay at least 300 feet away from divers-down warning devices in open water and at least 100 feet away in rivers, inlets, or navigation channels. Boaters approaching divers-down warning devices closer than 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets, or navigation channels must slow down to idle speed.
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:37 AM   #12
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First thing I would have done when I saw this is five short blasts from my very loud compressed air horn - sounds like a container ship's, as soon as I can! I might even make each one of them a wee bit longer than one second too!

For me that does a few things. First makes absolutely sure that they cannot say they didn't see me coming, gives them a chance to get the swimmer at least to the side of the boat, tells them I know the hell what I am doing and, to protect me better in that scenario and to embarress them, has absolutely everyone on board in the mooring field, on other boats around, any LEOS, and anyone walking the shore, look over to see what is going on.

Then I would have stopped and held position until they waved me through. If they didn't I would give another five, eventually they would!
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:48 AM   #13
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Ok So What, I give! Whats "Rolling Coal"?
To me that means some diesel smoke and a little prop wash.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:36 AM   #14
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Give 5 blasts as you approach, see how they react and be ready to jog in place for a minute if needed.

This is definitely where a canned air horn comes in handy if they don't react to the first set of blasts. You can point it directly at them, at which point it's going to be awfully hard for them to not to figure out something is wrong. Of course, the last time I did that to someone (small boat passing very close at about 20 kts compared to my 7 kts in one of the narrow 10 mph sections of the Erie Canal), I just received a loudly screamed "F*** you!". Conveniently, we were right near a lock, so I just called the lockmaster and let him know about the guy flying down the channel. I saw the guy get to the lock and sit and wait. About 40 minutes later, he goes flying by (just as fast but not as close) the other direction. So I'm pretty sure the lockmaster told him to get lost (especially because he would have seen him come flying up).
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:50 AM   #15
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. . . ignorant people in boats do breathtakingly thoughtless and risky things that simultaneously amaze me and yet no longer surprise me.
Sadly, this is all too true.

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First thing I would have done when I saw this is five short blasts from my very loud compressed air horn...
I would agree.

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Then I would have stopped and held position until they waved me through. If they didn't I would give another five, eventually they would!
Unfortunately (see Blissboat quote above) I have absolutely zero confidence that they would have EVER eventually done anything, other than keep right on blocking the channel.

In the end, I think the OP did most everything right. He clearly made every reasonable effort to avoid them as best he could. That's what the regulations call for. He certainly had no obligation to simply sit there -- with his boat in some degree of exposure -- waiting for them to finish their day of snorkeling and finally decide to move on.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:55 AM   #16
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You positioned yourself and slowed your speed as best you could and you had a lookout posted (kudos to your wife). Not much more you could have done in that regard.

I agree with the others that, before you entered the zone around them, five blasts of your horn would have been A) appropriate and B) could have helped keep you out of potential legal trouble later.

Boatpoker's idea of sending out a Securite message is also a good idea. It alerts local mariners and, at least in Florida, the Coast Guard will sometimes pay those knuckleheads a visit.

Unfortunately, in today's uber-litigious society, it would have been a great idea to have your wife pull out her phone and video the whole approach, including the five blasts of your horn, and perhaps a little narrative about the wind conditions. It's the kind of thing that could possibly help you later on, if things had gone south.

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Old 09-13-2019, 09:43 AM   #17
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The number one thing I would do in that situation is to be absolutely sure I was not going to hit a diver. Or the skiff or its anchor line. If I was certain I could avoid them safely, then air horn and proceed. If in any doubt, I would not pass. Then on the radio to the CG saying they are blocking the channel.
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:18 AM   #18
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It sounds to me like you handled it appropriately. There was just barely enough room for you to get by them. If there had been any less, your only course of action would have been to turn around and backtrack until you could find a safe place to hold steady and call whatever authorities are responsible in your area. Your first responsibility is to avoid a collision or an injury. That takes priority over using the channel to get to your location.

I also agree that a Securite’ radio call and a phone call to whatever law enforcement governs that area would be very appropriate.

My guess is that they are completely unaware of the impact of them anchoring in the channel. They don’t understand the implications of being constrained by draft and just how narrow the channel is for deeper draft boats.
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:23 AM   #19
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As Ski said. If you had made contact with the boat or the people, it would not have ended well. The boat could have been propless and the divers could have been looking for the prop or made some similar claim if things got to a legal stage.
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:00 PM   #20
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My question to the OP, from the comfortable position of armchair quarterback, is what is the bottom on the shallow side to your starboard?
Sand? Mud? Shells? Gravel? Rock?

If sand or mud and you say it was low tide then the consequences of drifting aground due to the crosswind were minimal. Shells or gravel a little worse, rock very bad.

If you can't hold position while waiting for a safe resolution drop your hook before you go around and kedge off as the tide comes in.

As I said, this is from the comfortable position of armchair quarterback. You were there, I wasn't.
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