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Old 12-19-2014, 01:10 AM   #1
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Collision regulations and Active Pass.

These are the Maritime Collision Regulations in Canada,
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/C.R.C.,_c._1416.pdf

and, an interesting story that relates to them here.
http://wwbaca.com/wp-content/uploads...ctive-Pass.pdf

Active Pass can be a busy place. We travel at around 7 kts, perhaps up to 10 kts through the Pass with a following tide. BC Ferries move at 20 kts, and we have encountered upwards of 4 of them (including the Gulf Island ferries) during a single transit. The two "Spirit class" ferries on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route meet and pass one another in the middle of Active Pass, and you don't want to be in the middle of that mash-up.

I have begun contacting the ferries on Victoria Traffic (VTS), channel 11 to confirm safe passes, when they are bearing down on me. Typically, I keep the Galiano Is. shore close to starboard southbound through the pass, and the Mayne Is. shore close to starboard northbound. I have also begun contacting VTS myself when entering, and I have confirmed with them by email that this is acceptable. I began doing this when they contacted me last year: "Southbound vessel entering Active Pass, this is Victoria Traffic". We were the only ones entering so we contacted them. They just wanted to advise us of an oncoming tug and tow and one of the Spirit Class boat entering.

Anyways, it's useful to know that it's a good idea to watch your p's and q's when operating around Commercial Traffic!

Jim
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:27 AM   #2
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Wow, very interesting.

This whole Rule 9 doesn't apply in Active Pass seems like a myth if it's not written down in some regulation. It sounds like other myths like "commercial boats have right of way", or "the rule on tonnage".

It does sound like he was on the wrong side of the channel, and although he passed the ferry port to port as he should have, doing so forced the ferry way to its stbd side of the channel. Or maybe I'm reading it wrong.
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:36 PM   #3
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I think you are indeed reading it wrong. He said that he squeezed closer to Galiano Island (on his port - hence the issue with Rule 9) and the ferry passed between him and the three vessels in the center of the channel. So he and the ferry passed stbd to stbd.
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:37 PM   #4
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Wow, very interesting.
It does sound like he was on the wrong side of the channel, and although he passed the ferry port to port as he should have, doing so forced the ferry way to its stbd side of the channel. Or maybe I'm reading it wrong.
As I am reading it he passed the ferry starboard to starboard going between the ferry and the shore which was on his port side.

Or am I reading this wrong?

I'd be interested in knowing what his fine was?
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:49 PM   #5
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Thank you for a very informative post. It would be interesting to know if the operators of the other pleasure craft were charged. Certainly they were not obeying Rule 9 by keeping as close to the Mayne Island side of the pass as possible.
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Old 12-19-2014, 01:23 PM   #6
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Narrow is in the eye of the beholder. I think this is a good lesson in the dynamic nature of the rules and the participants. Things are never so cut and dry when multiple parties are a factor on top of cascading decisions.

Personally, I've found myself often annoyed by the exact circumstances presented here. One group of boats enters a narrow channel and do not keep prudently to the starboard side, setting off a whole chain of reactions.

I think this guy got a bit of the raw end, but then again when you don't set up early to try to stay towards the starboard side of the channel, don't be surprised when you eventually get forced down the opposite side. Also, it's pretty predictable that if everyone is lax on these principles, these kinds of cascading situations will become common, and they are, we see it all the time.

The more I think about it, the judge made the right call. The rules are in place. The authorities often questioned here can not Include or exclude specific passes to those rules. That's for the job of admiralty courts, and there is a very very long tradition in that realm. The rules are sufficiently vague as to force actual judgement to be applied to competing rules and principles. I have to somewhat agree with the judge in no small part because you don't wind up in court unless somewhere you have gone astray in the prudent application of these rules. An otherwise large passage becoming impossible to navigate because of lax interpretation of said rules is forseeable, and thus expected. I might in fairness say those who were hogging the middle of the channel were more or even most at fault. But admiralty law has a long history of not caring who was most at fault. Blame gets ladled wherever it goes and one persons fault does not excuse your own.

In the end, while it stings and I feel for the guy here rather strongly, the judge made the right call.
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Old 12-19-2014, 01:37 PM   #7
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I believe the Ferries run on the hour, so just waiting for one to pass and then following would ease a lot of anxiety.
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Old 12-19-2014, 02:09 PM   #8
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I think you are indeed reading it wrong. He said that he squeezed closer to Galiano Island (on his port - hence the issue with Rule 9) and the ferry passed between him and the three vessels in the center of the channel. So he and the ferry passed stbd to stbd.
Yes, I think you are right now that I read it again.
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Old 12-19-2014, 02:14 PM   #9
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I too tend to agree with the judgement, but also think he got a raw deal because he's got caught and the other boats didn't. Basically, he got nailed because he identified himself with AIS and the other boats didn't. No good deed goes unpunished.
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Old 12-19-2014, 03:02 PM   #10
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I too tend to agree with the judgement, but also think he got a raw deal because he's got caught and the other boats didn't. Basically, he got nailed because he identified himself with AIS and the other boats didn't. No good deed goes unpunished.
Actually, I don't believe it was the subject boat that had AIS but one of the three boats in mid-channel, which the ferry saw on their plotter. They didn't see the Galliano-side boat until they rounded the point and physically saw it.

We've been through Active Pass several times in both directions, and the transit seems simple to us. Get over to the starboard side of the channel and follow it until clear of the channel. The fact the boater in question preferred to stay on the port (Galliano in this direction) side because it happened to be convenient is not a very defensible decision.

I also agree that no matter what the various authorities say about Rule 9 not applying to Active Pass, if it's not actually written down someplace official, it's not true. The fact that the ferry captains all think Rule 9 does apply to Active Pass indicates that there is no official ruling stating it doesn't. If there was an official exception, the ferry company and its captains would know about it.

In my and my wife's opinion, avoiding conflict with commercial vessels, particularly in an area where there is plenty of room to do so, is dirt simple, and it baffles us why some boaters seem unable to do it. We have done a 360 to permit a tug and tow to cross in front of us even though we might have been able to squeeze by ahead of it. It's also surprising how many boaters seem incapable of reducing power when they are at cruise. The power levers work both ways at all times. If one is reluctant to alter course, then a reduction of power can accomplish the same thing with regards to avoiding a conflict.

Another thing a lot of boaters don't seem able to do is put themselves in the position of the people on the bridge of the commercial vessel. If you decide to alter heading to avoid a conflict, make the heading change fast and large enough for the folks on the ship to see it. Then they know exactly what you're doing. As opposed to standing up there wondering if you're planning to take any action or if that slight alteration of heading is really a course change or just you being sloppy in your steering.

We always take the attitude that the commercial vessels--- the tugs and tows, ferries, freighters and tankers--- should be allowed to continue on their chosen course. We're the ones who aren't in a hurry and who have a maneuverable vessel. So unless there is no question that we will easily cross in front of a commercial vessel with lots of room to spare, we will always go around the back of it or slow down or make a 360 to allow it to pass ahead of us. This is regardless of who's who with regards to stand on and give way.

It's been interesting over the years how many times when we've done this the commercial vessel, particularly the tugs with tows, gives us a quick hoot on the horn in acknowledgement. We see no sense in making their lives any more challenging than they already are.
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Old 12-19-2014, 03:30 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Marin;292067]
It's been interesting over the years how many times when we've done this the commercial vessel, particularly the tugs with tows, gives us a quick hoot on the horn in acknowledgement. QUOTE]

Just like the truckers will often tap their brake lights twice in acknowledgement of courtesy on the highway. Either of them have a difficult enough job as it is. Why make it harder on them and yourself.
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:12 PM   #12
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I avoid Active pass. In my 18 years of boating in that area I may have gone through twice. I find any of the other routs in just fine.
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:16 PM   #13
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I wonder if he represented himself. If he hired council, was that council a maritime specialist? Was video evidence available? Were the vessels identified on VTS radar and was GPS information available to examine? Were independent witnesses available? I suspect that a good lawyer would have made mincemeat of the ferry officers. I'm surprised there was a conviction, given that I suspect everything was based only "he said she said" information.


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Old 12-19-2014, 10:52 PM   #14
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I went through Active on our way North this year. Primarily because I was going to miss the current at Polier and Gabriola. I was transiting at a time with little traffic (according to AIS and radar). I was following the Mayne island side having a jolly time when I became aware of a BC ferry coming around the point behind me. All was good until he called me on 16 by name and asked me to move over and give more room. Now I was over pretty far and getting out of my comfort zone. He proceeded to want to discuss this on 16 and I politely asked him to move to a working channel so we could talk. I figured since he was overtaking me and I was the stand on vessel that he could give way if he was uncomfortable with the situation. Per the rules. All went well and he passed on my Port.
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Old 12-19-2014, 11:07 PM   #15
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I believe the Ferries run on the hour, so just waiting for one to pass and then following would ease a lot of anxiety.
Nope. Several different runs converge on Active Pass on different schedules. At least twice a day there are three ferries passing each other inside the Pass.

I ran a survey several years ago and the subject area was directly underneath one of the passing points. Between that and the currents it was an "interesting" job. I quickly learned to love pleasure craft fitted with AIS, as well as the ones monitoring VTS.
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Old 12-19-2014, 11:24 PM   #16
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Up to 4 ferries can be encountered in AP during any given transit. The two Spirit Class ferries meet in the middle of AP during their transit through the pass. What I have learned:

Best to contact commercial traffic on VTS 11, rather than 16. I've found they don't always respond promptly. VTS Victoria told me:

"It is acceptable for you to contact any vessel(s) to make safe passing arrangements on a VTS channel. It can be beneficial to contact us prior to entering Active pass or other narrow waterways, however it is not required and completely voluntary." [voluntary in my case as I am less than 30m]

With this answer, I will contact VTS Victoria on Channel 11 when entering AP to advise of my intended course and would be prepared to contact commercial traffic if necessary to confirm intentions for safe passes.


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Old 12-20-2014, 12:05 PM   #17
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It's surprising how often "Failure to communicate" shows up in large commercial vessel incident reports. A simple call on VHF can sort out a lot of problems before they start. Unless of course the response to the hail is a torrent of racial abuse, as happened in one tanker incident.

An odd local custom has developed further north in Dodds Narrows. Small boats (i.e.: 21') are announcing their transit and vessel size on 16. On the one hand communication is good, but if you line up your approach properly you can see straight through the narrows.
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Old 12-20-2014, 01:57 PM   #18
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While you can see through Dodd once you're lined up with it, you can't see what's approacing the other end before you're lined up. We like the fact boats announce they are approaching their entrance because it gives us an idea of what we're about to encounter.

And what we really like is when the announcement contains the type and size of the boat. We've slowed down to delay our entrance a few times when the helmsman of a large yacht in some cases and a big tug in another announced they were entering Dodd before we were in a position to see through.

But even if the boat entering is a small one, we like to know what's coming so we can paint a mental picture of what's ahead of us.

Personally, we think this announcement should be made mandatory although it might be better to assign a different radio frequency for it.
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Old 12-21-2014, 02:33 AM   #19
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I could see, that in this case, there was no conflict with the ferry - what I get out of this story is that because the boat in question was on the 'wrong' side of the pass, the ferry master now had no idea what that boat's action might be in a conflict and therefore told him to move farther over to ensure that an erratic or further unusual maneuver would not compromise the ferry.

I've had boats cut me off, pass on the wrong side, refuse to alter course until I gave them the 5 blasts of my horn and overtaken in such a way as to squeeze me off on a shore (Copelands, narrow passage near me) so I have had to virtually stop to let the morons pass. When somebody displays a disregard for the rules, you now have no idea what or when the next erratic or moronic move will be made, causing grief and uncertainty to the other boat; even if none occur.

Sorry, but follow the rules.


Just to further confuse things, our police and our courts waste an awful lot of time hitting very small nails with giant hammers. A warning and a good explanation why, would have saved everybody a lot of time and cost.
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:38 PM   #20
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Would I be wrong to suggest as a solution to avoiding confusion (and collision) when transiting Active Pass and other narrow or limited sight passages; that the center of the channel be designated a ferry traffic lane. Pleasure craft would have the shoulder and large vessels ( over 20 meters) would be required to follow the center channel. Similarly, I'd like to see a dedicated "ferries only" lane in Thatcher Pass as well.
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