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Rules of the Road Review

July 26, 2018

Here's the scenario:

You (Boat A) are leaving the Norwalk town dock after a great lunch in SONO and decide to head out to the Sheffield light house before heading home.

As you head South and pass green Can "19" and are next to the Shore and Country Club dock, a boat (Boat B) is coming out of the Norwalk Cove Marina channel with the intention of heading South.

At the same time another boat (Boat C) is heading North in the main channel, planning to enter Norwalk Cove Marina, and is just past green Can "17" , almost abeam of "M" dock (mega boat dock) next to Sunset Grill.

It's a classic "T" intersection.

Marina Approach

See the chart and see if you can determine: Who goes first ? Who is "Stand On" ? Who is "Give Way" ?  

The Rules say: RULE 15 Crossing Situation When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.

So, following the rules, you (Boat A) hold your course and speed regarding Boat B (you are the stand on vessel), and stay on the right side of the channel regarding Boat C.

Boat B should slow and wait for you to pass (give way), then proceed. Boat C must slow, stop, or back down to give way to boat B (who is now the stand on vessel).

Just because they (Boat C) are in the channel does not give them any additional rights.  

danger zone2

Rule Tip: The easy way to remember this is to think of your "Danger Zone" which is on your right side (see diagram). If a boat is in your "Danger Zone" (no matter of how far away they are) you must alter course to avoid collision and "Give Way" If the "Stand On" vessel changes course and the situation becomes critical, you MUST do everything you can (including breaking the rules) to avoid collision after sounding your horn 5 times signaling danger.      

For a PDF of the USCG Nav Rules: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/navRules/CG_NRHB_20141118.pdf  

By Capt. Rick Delfosse    rdelfosse@rexmarine.com

Rick is a Coast Guard captain, the editor of Harbor Talk Weekly, a National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.

 

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