Monthly Archives: March 2013

More Navigation Rules Series – Narrow Channels and Special Situations

Navigating Narrow Channels

When operating in a narrow channel, the rules tell you to stay as far to the outer limit of the channel as practical on your starboard side.

Boats less than 20 meters (65 feet) long, or a sailboat, shall not impede a boat that is constrained by draft, i.e. a large ship that must operate within the channel in order to make way safely. When crossing a channel, do so at a right angle and in such a way as to avoid causing the traffic in the channel to make course or speed changes.

Do not anchor in a narrow channel.

Special Situations

When operating on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers and other designated rivers, the down bound boat (going with the current) has the right of way over a boat going upstream. This is because a boat going upstream can maneuver better than a one going downstream.

Additionally, a boat crossing a designated river shall keep out of the way of boats ascending or descending the river.

Navigating narrow channelsIf you approach a bend in a river around which you cannot see, sound one prolonged blast to alert boats approaching from the other side of the bend that you are there. If another boat is around the bend, it should answer with one prolonged blast. Conversely, if you hear a prolonged blast as you approach the bend, answer with a prolonged blast.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Commercial Vessel Situations

Large commercial ship approaching a sailboatIf at all possible, stay out of areas where there is commercial vessel traffic such as shipping lanes or traffic separation zones. Large ships and barges have special problems in maneuvering and cannot and will not get out of your way.

Think about it, even with an elevated bridge, when you are looking out over a deck that may be the length of a football field there is a cone of invisibility area a certain distance in front that can not be seen. In that area you will also be invisible to the radar.

In addition a fully loaded ship, even going at a relatively low-speed, may take miles to come to a complete stop.

Just remember it is not a good idea to “tangle with a tanker.”

If you must operate around commercial vessels, take heed of the following:

  • Avoid ship channels. If you must cross, do so at right angles and as quickly as possible.
  • Be alert. Watch for traffic.
  • Be seen, especially at night.
  • Know the sound signals, especially the danger or doubt signal.
  • Keep your VHF radio tuned to channel 16 and listen carefully.
  • Order all aboard to wear PFDs.
  • Be familiar with the area and have current navigation charts.
  • Don’t be a non-survivor of a collision with a large ship.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Meeting Situations

In the following situations, the give-way vessel must take action to keep well clear. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed. If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, you should take action to avoid collision.

Meeting Head-On

When two power driven vessels are approaching head-on or nearly so, either vessel shall indicate its intent which the other vessel shall answer promptly. In a meeting situation, neither vessel is the stand-on vessel.

It is generally accepted that you should alter course to starboard and pass port-to-port. The accompanying sound signal is one short blast. If you cannot pass port-to-port due to an obstruction or other vessels, you should sound two short blasts to indicate your intention to pass starboard-to-starboard. Make sure the other vessel understands your intent before proceeding. The other vessel should return your two-short-blast signal.

Passing Port to Port

Meeting head on.

Passing Starboard to Starboard

Passing starboard to starboard

Meeting head to Head

Meeting head to head.

*Response not sounded on International Waters

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More Navigation Rules Series – Overtaking Situations

When two vessels are moving in the same direction, and the astern vessel wishes to pass, it must initiate the signal to pass as shown in the diagram. The vessel passing is the give-way vessel and should keep out of the way of the vessel being passed. The vessel being passed is the stand-on vessel and must maintain its course and speed. If the stand-on vessel realizes that the course intended by the give-way vessel is not safe, it should sound the danger or doubt signal.

A vessel is deemed to be overtaking when the vessel is approaching the vessel ahead in a direction of 22.5 degrees abaft her beam. At night you would only be able to see the stern light of the vessel being overtaken. You would not be able to see either sidelight.

Inland Rules”I intend to pass you on your port side”
2 short blasts (1 sec.)”Agreement”
2 short blasts (1 sec.)International Rules:”I intend to pass you on your port side”
2 prolonged blasts/2 short

“Agreement”
1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

Overtaking Inland Rules”I intend to pass you on your starboard side”
1 short blast (1 sec.)”Agreement”
1 short blast (1 sec.)International Rules:”I intend to pass you on your starboard side”
2 prolonged blasts/1 short

“Agreement”
1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

If you are the overtaking vessel, remember that you are the give-way vessel until well past, and safely clear of, the passed vessel. Do not cut in front, impede or endanger another vessel.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Crossing Situations

When two power driven boats are approaching at right angles or nearly so, and risk of collision exists, the boat on the right is the stand-on vessel and must hold its course and speed. The other boat, the give-way vessel, shall maneuver to keep clear of the stand-on vessel and shall pass it by its stern. If necessary, slow, stop or reverse until the stand-on vessel is clear.

Danger zone

In the example above, the red vessel is the give-way vessel and should alter course and speed to pass behind the blue vessel. If the skipper of the blue vessel does not observe the red vessel taking action to avoid collision, then he/she must take the required action to avoid a collision.

Sailing Craft and Vessels Propelled by Oars or Paddles

Sailing craft (not under power) and boats propelled by oars or paddles are stand-on vessels when approaching power driven boats. In this situation, the power-driven boat should alter course to pass behind the sailboat.

Sailboat in the stand on vessel

An exception to this is if the sailboat or self-propelled watercraft is passing a power driven vessel. In an overtaking situation, the overtaking vessel is the give-way vessel, even if it is not propelled by an engine.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Pecking Order

There are a series of scenarios that determine who is the stand-on and who is the give-way vessel. This is sometimes referred to as the “Pecking Order.”

There are two sets of navigation rules; inland and international. A nautical chart will show Detail of a nautical chart.you the demarcation lines where the rules change from international to inland and vice versa. In general, these demarcation lines follow the coastline and cross inlets and bays. On the seaward side of the demarcation lines, international rules apply.

We will concentrate on the inland rules, since most of your recreational boating will occur on the landward side of the demarcation lines.

The Nav Rules are written with the understanding that not all boats can maneuver with the same ease. Therefore, Rule 18 states that certain vessels must keep out of the way of other vessels due to their ability to maneuver.

A power driven vessel underway must keep out of the way of the following:

  • A sailing vessel, under sail only, and vessels propelled by oars or paddles. (Note: when a sailboat has its motor running, it is considered a power driven vessel.)
  • A vessel engaged in fishing, whose fishing equipment restricts its maneuverability. This does not include a sport fisher or party boat and generally means a commercial fishing vessel.
  • A vessel with restricted maneuverability such as a dredge or tow boat, a boat engaged in work that restricts it to a certain area, or a vessel transferring supplies to another vessel.
  • A vessel not under command – broken down.

Each of these vessels must keep out of the way of the next vessel. For example, a sailboat must keep out of the way of a vessel engaged in fishing, which in turn must keep out of the way of a vessel with restricted maneuverability. And everyone must keep out of the way of a vessel not under command.

When two power driven vessels are in sight of one another and the possibility of collision exists, one vessel is designated by the rules as the stand-on vessel and the other is designated as the give-way vessel. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed. The give-way vessel must take early and substantial action to avoid collision.

If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, the stand-on vessel must act to avoid collision.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Risk of Collision

Every means available shall be used to determine if risk of collision exists. This could be information from your lookout, radar, or other means. If there is any doubt as to the risk of collision, you should act as if it does exist and take appropriate action.

In determining if risk of collision exists, the following considerations shall be among those taken into account:

  • Risk of collision shall be deemed to exist if the compass bearing of an approaching vessel does not appear to change
  • Risk may sometimes exist even when an appreciable bearing change is evident, particularly when approaching a very large vessel or a tow, or when approaching a vessel at close range.
  • If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.
  • When maneuvering to prevent collision, do so early and make the maneuver large enough to be recognized the other vessel. Small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.

When two power driven vessels are in sight of one another and the possibility of collision exists, one vessel is designated by the rules as the stand-on vessel and the other is designated as the give-way vessel. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed. The give-way vessel must take early and substantial action to avoid collision.

If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, the stand-on vessel must act to avoid collision.

So, how do you know a risk of collision exists? An example: your boat and another boat are on a course with a constant bearing but a decreasing range. You are both heading to the same point at the same speed. The risk of collision exists if neither of you alter course and/or speed.

For a graphical view of constant bearing and decreasing range go to: http://boatingbasicsonline.com/content/general/6_2_b1.php

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