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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    405

    Default colregs question

    I should probably know the answer to this, but don't.
    I was on port tack when a single-hander in a race fleet, also on port but going much faster than me, came up behind me on my starboard side. He was in a race boat and I was in a charter tub, so despite being close hauled, he managed a higher angle to the wind than I could achieve. That meant that as he came up behind me he was pretty much aiming at me and getting uncomfortably close. I had limited room to maneuver; if I bore off I'd hit him, but if I went higher I'd have to tack or be in irons.
    He was obviously on a mission and wasn't about to change course so in the end I luffed up and let him have it.
    Question is: I was windward vessel so should have given way. But he was overtaking vessel so should have given way. But by the time things were getting nervy, he was alongside me, so not really in the overtaking situation anymore.
    For context, this wasn't an around the cans race but a hop between islands in Greece; there was plenty of sea room, and no other vessels involved so he had could have borne off if he wanted to or was required to. And I wasn't part of the race.
    Interested in knowing how others interpret those two rules (or if there is a hard and fast interpretation I should have followed) and what you'd have done in same situation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,382

    Default Re: colregs question

    My assumption from your description is that he was clearly the overtaking vessel and should have given way. However, in my experience, many racing boats appear to think that colregs do not apply to them!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    24,997

    Default Re: colregs question

    The rule is clear - if he approaches you as overtaking boat he is always overtaking and must keep clear. He remains obliged to do so until he is finally passed and clear. That overrides any other rules in COLREGS,

    Practically of course there really wasn't much you can reasonably do. I would probably have held my course.

    Partly racing boats have a different view of "plenty of room" to the rest of us, and they usually have a good understanding of boat handling and colregs even if it doesn't always appear that way. He will have had a plan had you not changed course- he was probably intending to sail across your stern and pass you to windward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    405

    Default Re: colregs question

    Quote Originally Posted by bedouin View Post
    Partly racing boats have a different view of "plenty of room" to the rest of us, and they usually have a good understanding of boat handling and colregs even if it doesn't always appear that way. He will have had a plan had you not changed course- he was probably intending to sail across your stern and pass you to windward
    No, he came up alongside to starboard and was closing me from there. I couldn't have changed course to allow him to cross my stern without going into him, and I suspect he was already as close hauled as he could be.
    There may have been more room than I felt there was; he could have been a few feet away and not collided, but it was closer than I was comfortable with. Which I supppose raises another question: how close is too close?
    I get it that racers' views of the Colregs are different to others, and I've stood my ground to racers on other occasions when I knew I was in the right, but in this case I was doubting myself because I was windward.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    A Member State of the European Union
    Posts
    6,453

    Default Re: colregs question

    The difficulty is deciding when overtaking becomes crossing,

    A faster vessel on the same course is obviously overtaking , and a vessel coming at right angles to your course is obviously crossing.

    Somewhere in between those two extremes, overtaking becomes crossing. (see ColReg Rule 13 below)

    Deciding where one becomes the other is not easy; especially at sea. It is easier at night time, always assuming the slower vessel's lights are accurately orientated.

    By the time I had decided, I expect the racing boat would have shot past me. To my great relief!

    Anyway, here is the relevant ColReg

    " Rule 13 (Overtaking)

    (a) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Rules of Part B, Sections I and II, any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.

    (b) A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5° abaft her beam, that is, in such a position with reference to the vessel she is overtaking, that at night she would be able to see only the sternlight of that vessel but neither of her sidelights.

    (c) When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly.

    (d) Any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.
    "
    Last edited by Poignard; 07-09-19 at 16:41.
    "Brexit: like watching a library being burned down by people who can't read"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    24,997

    Default Re: colregs question

    Quote Originally Posted by newtothis View Post
    No, he came up alongside to starboard and was closing me from there. I couldn't have changed course to allow him to cross my stern without going into him, and I suspect he was already as close hauled as he could be.
    There may have been more room than I felt there was; he could have been a few feet away and not collided, but it was closer than I was comfortable with. Which I supppose raises another question: how close is too close?
    I get it that racers' views of the Colregs are different to others, and I've stood my ground to racers on other occasions when I knew I was in the right, but in this case I was doubting myself because I was windward.
    That is really odd as a racer would normally have more sense than to try to pass close to leeward. You would expect him either to bear away to get more speed to pass to leeward or pass to windward.

    If he was so close as to make you feel nervous he was much too close - at least in Colregs terms. You were certainly in the right, and he was wrong to get that close.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    22,878

    Default Re: colregs question

    You were just unlucky in encountering someone who is a disgrace to the yachting community. As a cruiser, you were not obliged to do more than sail reasonably competently within the limits of your craft's performance and he (I presume) should have simply regarded you as a moving obstruction and something to be avoided.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    564

    Default Re: colregs question

    Rule number one is avoid collision but as the overtaking vessel he should alter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    38,235

    Default Re: colregs question

    From the OP's description it's not entirely guaranteed that this is not a windward boat situation.
    You need to be absolutely sure you have held a constant course from before the 'overtaking' boat crossed the 22.5degree line. I.e. as stand on vessel to the overtaking vessel, have you fulfilled your obligation to stand on?

    How much higher was the other boat pointing?
    I can't see that the OP could not have luffed up a little, slowing a little without risk of 'going into irons'.

    It would be interesting to hear the other side.

    If you encounter someone like this, it's better to luff up and let them pass or even tack off. Nobody is awarding you any prizes for being in the right and the primary thing is always to avoid a collision.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Hopefully somewhere warm
    Posts
    9,639

    Default Re: colregs question

    Quote Originally Posted by newtothis View Post
    (or if there is a hard and fast interpretation I should have followed) and what you'd have done in same situation.
    Rule 2 B- Do the right thing, even if it's breaking another rule WHich it sounds like you did, if you had pushed it and he didn't budge and there was a collision you'd be to blame as well, so imho full marks for backing off before it got too hairy, even if the other guy was going to do something there's no way you could be sure of that. Standing on to the very end just to prove a point in situations like that is bad seamanship imho, better to have some room spare. No one gets hurt and no gelcoat gets chipped

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