Collision today

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by DAVA390, Aug 17, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    9,356 posts, 4,174 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    This last March, while aboard the Mahalo ( @LeslieTroyer 's boat) we were sailing westerly across Rosario Strait on Port tack. A south bound commercial tug (no tow attached) was going to cross our bow. Visibility 10 miles in clear sky's. At 3 miles we could see that our paths would cross. AIS said the CPA (closest point of approach) would be less then .1 miles. Visually the bearing to the boat did not change. As we closed we called the boat using DSC. No response. We tried Channel 13 using the AIS listed boat name. No response. Still closing and no change in bearing, we tried hailing the boat on CH 16 using the boats name. No response. Now less than 1/2 mile we turned into the wind and let the A$$ carry on at 12 knots and a breaking wake wave.

    Other than that it was a beautiful day for a sail.
    IMG_3479[1].jpg
     


    JRT, JamesG161 and JimInPB like this.
  2. waterpirate

    waterpirate

    Joined Sep 6, 2015
    110 posts, 20 likes
    Unknown snipe
    US delaware bay
    As a avid diver from small boats. We were anchored up on winter quarter shoals, flying red and white dive flag and the blue and white alpha flag. I was the designated " boat bitch " as two of my mates were down below. I observed a scallop dragger approaching on a outbound course, it got closer and closer until I cut the anchor and took evasive action. No harm no foul, recovered my mates and the anchor. I do not understand how this accident was even possible.
    Eric
     


    JamesG161 likes this.
  3. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,507 posts, 435 likes
    Hunter 26.5, 212, 170
    us West Palm Beach
    Perhaps no harm, but I think that I would have called a foul. The potential for harm certainly was created. To me, that is a foul.

    ...just my opinion.
     


    jssailem likes this.
  4. williamtl

    williamtl

    Joined Jun 1, 2015
    165 posts, 55 likes
    Macgregor 26d
    US rocky fork
    Judges try the law, juries try the facts. Unless of course the parties waive the jury and then the judge does both roles.

    Agree, it doesn’t matter until it does.
     


  5. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho

    Joined Jan 7, 2011
    1,368 posts, 289 likes
    Oday 322
    US East Chicago, IN
    I sail on the south end of Lake Michigan...lots of tugs, laker boats, etc. I will always try to steer clear of the big boys making their way to ports along the end of the lake. But I almost always tell my wife, don’t worry...we have the right away..when she sees a small recreational power boat headed in our direction.

    Maybe now I need to start avoiding them too.

    Greg
     


    AlastairLC and BrianRobin like this.
  6. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,126 posts, 412 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    There's no such thing as "right of way." My father (Navy guy) used to say "they'll put that on your headstone - "He had the right of way." There's stand on and give way vessels, and a long list of cases where the sailboat is the give way vessel. Everyone has an obligation to mitigate a potential collision, regardless of give way or stand on status.
     


  7. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,938 posts, 1,196 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Just as there's no such thing as a green light on the roadway.
     


    jviss likes this.
  8. Rick486

    Rick486

    Joined Oct 1, 2007
    1,300 posts, 357 likes
    Hunter 44DS
    US Pt. Judith
    This illustrates my earlier point. This tug OD may well have read this crossing as his stand on, and your burdened since he sees your starboard bow. How can he possibly know (or care ) whether you are sailing or motor sailing? Or he may not have cared. Back here in NE tugs usually (always, really) come right up on CH 13 when hailed. And often they will thank you for calling.
     


    JimInPB and jssailem like this.
  9. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,126 posts, 412 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    Hey John, circling back on this, you have a point.

    I spoke with a friend who's a licensed captain, 100 ton master, and taught the captains course in the Boston area. He said that when this gets before a maritime judge, the process employed will be to apportion the responsibility among the two parties. It is almost never 100% on one party, 'though he thought in this case it could be close. The fact that the sailboat never turned to attempt to mitigate the potential damage will make them partially responsible.

    A I said previously, I would have turned towards them. This would have been the correct turn for collision avoidance, i.e., to establish a port-to-port pass, and also if there is a collision, it would be more likely to be a glancing blow, because of the bow-to-bow attitude. I wouldn't turn away, as the powerboat could climb up into the cockpit.

    So, yes, I can now see how the sailboat would bear some responsibility, apportionment of the blame.
     


  10. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    9,356 posts, 4,174 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Yes. The turn towards is consistent with the Regs to pass Port to Port. But the Regs focus on collision avoidance. Depending on where the speeding boat is, at what angle, estimate of track, and that the wind is coming from the same direction as the speeding boat, this may be placing the sailboat in greater danger. The sail boat would be turning into irons. Going dead in the water. No control.

    My sense is what ever action you take in order to avoid collision you will need to be able to explain the why.
     


  11. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,444 posts, 1,065 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Depending on the wind speed, it would have been faster to gybe than to tack. If the wind was a beam, ok, turn into the wind. But anything else probably a gybe is faster. No chance of irons. JMHO
     


    jssailem likes this.
  12. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,978 posts, 948 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    That all may be true but I find that to be sad. For one thing, it means that for recreational boaters and perhaps even small commercial boats (such as this fishing boat), the navigation rules are essentially meaningless. I've said it before, the clause that says both boats must try to avoid collision essentially over-rides everything. It means that nobody really has to follow the rules. The court is essentially saying 'if you two knuckleheads can't avoid each other on a wide open body of water, then the court can't be bothered with figuring out who is to blame. Let's just say both are to blame'.

    I think it also says that the courts or authorities don't really want to handle disputes among small boats. The important cases involve much bigger fish to fry.

    It really is kind of stupid to assume that common sense doesn't apply. Of course 2 boats should try to avoid a collision. That's common sense. Why does it have to be stated in a regulation? The fact that it is stated in a regulation makes all other regulations essentially meaningless. The fact that there are no traffic cops on the water to enforce regulations makes it possible for boaters to set their autopilots on and assume everybody will eventually get out of their way. Many of us are essentially scofflaws at our own whim (of course we assume it is just the moboaters), even subconsciously, because there is no enforcement of regulations on the water. We only hear about what might happen in court when somebody looks at the regs. Then, they say 'see? … right here it says that 2 boats have to try to avoid each other (boom goes the gavel) both boaters share 50% of the blame!'

    Of course, in this case, that seems ridiculous when you look at the picture, yet several of us in here are saying that the sailboat should never get hit by a boat going over 30 knots because there is always some way to take evasive action. Well, I'm not so sure about that. At 3 or 4 knots of boat speed, I think we are basically a sitting duck for a motor boat at speed on autopilot. I'd bet that the commercial guy isn't really a bad guy after all. He probably gets on his boat and sets the autopilot 999 times out of 1000 (I know it was his first trip on this boat - maybe that is why he was distracted) and never has an incident because other boats imperceptibly avoid him. He doesn't even know that they do. It's subconscious. Rules on the water don't mean anything. There are no cops out there to pull you over possibly for violating a navigation rule. The only way you get pulled over is for a safety check or to make sure your toilet doesn't discharge overboard. It's not like the road, where there is some chance you get pulled over for running a red light or speeding. On the water, the regulations are only meaningful when there is a collision … and then there is that idiotic regulation that essentially voids everything else by saying "2 boats on a collision course must avoid each other" … :doh: well duhh! As far as I know, there are no traffic laws that say 2 cars have to try to avoid collision. The guy who runs the red light doesn't get to say 'the other guy didn't try to avoid me, and the judge doesn't say 'the law requires 2 cars to avoid collision so both are at fault'.

    So ends my rant! ;)
     


  13. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,938 posts, 1,196 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    This guy could be an anarchist, and I mean that in a good way.
     


  14. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,978 posts, 948 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    That's funny! I thought I was ranting about anarchy, with a wink and a nod from the "authorities", on the water. :waycool:
     


  15. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    3,799 posts, 1,761 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    There are 2 courts involved here. The first about violation of the rules and if this is a licensed captain, his license is on the line and potentially other penalties. The bigger issue for responsibility is the inevitable lawsuit that follows. Certainly the insurance company for the sailboat is going sue to get damages from the powerboat, so the apportionment of liability becomes critical.
     


  16. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,978 posts, 948 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    Which may screw the sailboat owner. The first court may rightly take away the charter boat captain's license for serious rules violations. That's meaningless to the sailboat owner (the victim). The second court, if relying upon the 1st court for apportionment of liability, screws the sailboat owner if the 1st court says that both are to blame because there wasn't sufficient evasive action by the sailboat. As you can see, my complaint is about the regulation that explicitly says that both captains must take evasive action. It allows the wrong-doer to not shoulder all of the responsibility. I think there is no valid reason for that regulation. Where common sense isn't allowed to apply, the regulation screws it up.
     


  17. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,938 posts, 1,196 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Not "mayhem, disorder and lawlessness", but "without leaders".
    Duarchy
    Monarchy
    Anarchy...
     


  18. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    3,799 posts, 1,761 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    I think what happens is the liability is apportioned. The "Trier of Fact" determines how much each party is liable. Even though we do not know all the facts, it seems clear that if the powerboat had been operating safely the accident would not have happened. It may be the case that some evasive action could have been taken by the sailboat that would have prevented the accident or at least mitigated the damage. There are guiding principles in the interpretation of the law, such as the reasonable man test that the judges will follow. In the end, I would suspect that the bulk of the liability will rest heavily on the shoulders of the powerboat captain, if he is licensed there is the expectation he knows better and he will be held to a higher standard than the sailor. It will also depend on the actions the sailor took prior to the collision.

    Just making up numbers, if it is determined that the powerboat captain is 90% liable and the sailor 10%, the litigation will follow those numbers. If there is $100K damage, then the powerboat would pay $90K and the sailor $10K, or at least their insurance companies will.
     


    dziedzicmj likes this.
  19. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,978 posts, 948 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    Yes, that is all fine about how the law is applied, except that I see no reason why the sailboat owner should shoulder even 10%. If he does have to, then my largest complaint is about the Regulation. Why is there even a Regulation that over-rides the basic navigation rules in this way? My position is that ColRegs does more harm than good by inserting a rule that subverts all other rules by saying that both captains must attempt evasive action. It's common sense and it doesn't need to be inserted where it only muddies the waters of responsibility.

    Because it is inserted, it invites an excuse to be a scofflaw on all the important navigation rules. See my argument?
     


  20. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,126 posts, 412 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    @Scott T-Bird , you are arguing ad extremis, and I completely disagree with you on this. The rules do matter - of course you won't see a report of all of the collisions that didn't happen. And, I didn't say that the blame would be split 50/50, I said that the responsibility for the collision would be apportioned.

    It might be 100/0 against the powerboat, but unlikely; maybe 95/5. After all, according to the reports I've read, the sailboat saw the powerboat, attempted to hail them; why didn't they turn? If they had any way on at all they could have turned towards the powerboat, and maybe even kept turning to a 180º turn and gotten out of the way. Did the sailboat sound a horn? (I don't know). Did the sailboat start the engine when they saw this potential collision lining up? (I don't know). These might have helped, too. That's what I do if I think I may be run down: start the engine, try to hail, sound the horn, turn to avoid. None of these actions say the sailboat was wrong, but include things they could have done to avoid the collision, as is everyone's responsibility to do.

    To say the entire system is broken, a system that has been in use and has developed over centuries - that's what's ridiculous.

    We should have a way, in these forums, of setting a timer, so we can be reminded to check back a year or two later, to see what happened in the courts or elsewhere.

    I'll bet two things will happen:
    1. powerboat insurance company will settle - too obvious, and too costly to go to court and certainly lose;
    2. captain of powerboat will face discipline, perhaps loss of license, fines, etc.
    And that will be it! No admiralty court.
     


    jssailem and Rick D like this.


Gray ports and parts
The most popular port on boats built from the 70s into the 90s.
Gray Enterprises port gasket
Stop winter leaks. Compare our price!
Winch covers
Any brand, every size, any color!
Merriman pedestal control head
Finally, an aluminum replacement for this YS Merriman part.
-->