Friday, November 9, 2012

Rules of the Road

With cruising in our future, I figured it would be a good idea to know the "rules of the road".  Ken and I have been boating most of our lives, but it's been in lakes, rivers and bayous.  We've had to dodge skiers and fishermen, but really not much more.  In fact, we've probably dodged crab traps more than anything!   
When I saw "The One Minute Guide" ... I figured this was the book for us.  I didn't want anything too complicated, and this book claimed to explain all the rules in a way that was easily understood.  Also, even though it's not required on our boat, this book satisfies the US Coast Guard requirements for carrying the rules on board. 
After reading through the book and marking some of the info with a highlighter, I would recommend this book (you can order from link above).  Not only does it break down the rules for easy understanding as claimed, but it also has a quick-reference chart on the inside cover.  Most of the rules seem to be common sense, but when in a stressful or dangerous situation ... common sense can be forgotten.
There's no way I can cover all the rules, but here's an idea of what's in the book ... 
  • A sailing vessel is "under sail" and becomes a "power driven" vessel any time the motor is running.
  • A sailing vessel underway keeps out of the way of:  a vessel not under command, a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver, and a vessel engaged in fishing.
  • If you're motor-sailing or motoring, than you must keep out of the way of those mentioned above, as well as a sailing vessel.
  • When motor-sailing on vessel 12 meters or more, display a cone, apex down.
  • If two sailboats are meeting and on different tacks, the port tack vessel stay clear.  If on same tack, windward tack vessel stay clear.  If on port tack and uncertain about windward vessel, stay clear.
  • If both vessels are power-driven and meeting head-on, both vessels should alter course to starboard and pass port-to-port.
  • The book even goes into low visibility, sounds and lights on a boat.  Since our boat is less than 12 meters, we're only required to have a whistle, horn or whatever we choose.  Over 12 meters (but less than 20 meters) requires a whistle and 20m-100m requires a whistle and a bell.
  • Nirvana requires a masthead light with a visibility of 2 miles, a sidelight of 1 mile, a sternlight of 2 miles, a towing light of 2 miles, an all-round light (white, red, green or yellow) of 2 miles, and a special flashing light (yellow light flashing at 57 times per minute) of 2 miles.  Larger vessels (12 to 50 meters) require the same lights, but require a higher intensity.  The book also instructs where to place the lights for different scenarios.
There's much more in this book, and I'm sure we'll be keeping it handy on Nirvana.  Hopefully, we won't be grabbing it for the "avoiding a collision" section!
Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!


Sandee said...

You have to know the rules of the road. If you don't you'll make those that do crazy. I see it all the time. It's a shame that some training is not required.

Have a terrific weekend. :)

Drew Frye said...

There are a few more quasi rules:

1. Boats without lights have right-of-way. They're clueless.

2. If there is much traffic in the anchorage after dark, leave a cabin light or deck light on; they won't look up for the anchor light.

3. Towing, a real rule. If you see 2 vertical lights, there is a barge back there somewhere and the cable will kill you.

4. Eye contact. If the boat on port tack has a deck-sweeping genny, does not have a bow watch and you can't see the helmsman, assume they won't yield.

5. Rental kayaks are like squirrels; they wait until you are close and then cross.

Ken n Cheryl said...

Great tips Drew, especially the one about towing. We'd never have thought of that one.

Sandee, we agree. There should be some sort of training required ... kinda scary!

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