I am so dreadfully behind in all that’s happened. There is just no way I’m going to get it all into this blog. Although this happened two weeks ago, I feel like I just have to write about it.
On May 12, I took out the club Catalina Capri to watch the BCYC Bikini Cup race. The big sailboats were tearing around Boca Ciega Bay and we were doing our best to stay out of the way. Actually, we did stay out of the way. They are big boats, we’re a little boat, it’s a big bay – you do the math. It was easy. I took my son Alex (of sunfish moving fame) and at the last minute invited J. along.
We had a great time and a little before the race was over we headed back in as J. had some after race cooking responsibilities to take care of. You know, I’m never sure if this is an eating and drinking club that sails a little, or a sailing club that eats and drinks a lot. Actually, I think our club byline is that we’re a drinking club with a sailing problem. Anyways, I digress…
Partway through the sail I let J. take over because it’s nice to let other people sail, and I’m a nice guy. So he starts taking us in.
As we’re heading back to port, we are going almost directly up wind. This means as a sailboat with no motor, we have to tack. and tack, and tack. Back and forth as we work our way back to the dock. In the picture below, we are the red line. We’re coming up from the bottom towards the dock at the top.
BCYC Sail Collision 1
You may have noticed a yellow line in the picture. That is a motor boat that came up behind us. There is NO WAY they didn’t see what we were doing going BACK AND FORTH, OVER AND OVER!
So they come roaring up till the get to the no wake marker. It is on the two posts you can see right at the tip of the wind arrow. Then they idle without a wake like good little motor boaters. They are still going faster than us. As they get to the end of the little yellow line, we are almost to the end of our little red line STILL GOING BACK AND FORTH! We are headed for a collision, but the husband on the boat jumps up, grabs the controls from his wife, and in a heroic effort, jams the gear into reverse with a VROOOM, WHMMMMM, stops their boat and keeps it from running into us. That was a little dramatic of him, but then he yells out “SORRY ABOUT MY WIFE, SHE DOESN”T KNOW ABOUT SAILBOATS TACKING EVEN THOUGH SHE GREW UP WITH ONE”.
I thought that was very rude of him towards his wife, but at least he didn’t let us collide. We go back to tacking, because we’re doing it about every 15 seconds. Keeps us kind of busy. We go a few more feet towards the left wall, then tack to the right and suddenly, THEY ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!
BCYC Sail Collision2
While we were absorbed with not running into the left wall, they came around us (at idle speed) and got right in our way. Guess what? We ran into them. Not once, but twice. We bumped them (T-bone style), veered a little left, but the wind gusted and swung the bow right back and bumped them again.
I admit, I was a little startled. So startled, I laughed. Not because it was funny, but because I couldn’t believe they were such a dumba** to put themselves in such a position. Well, I guess I shouldn’t have done that, because another guy on the boat started yelling and saying I wouldn’t think it was so funny if there was any damage to his boat and made a big show of checking the side to see if there was any.
They never stopped.
They never asked if anyone was hurt.
They just kept on motoring back to their marina.
They violated so many rules of the road, it just isn’t funny.
- First, they saw us for heavens sake! They knew we were tacking and had limited manueverability.
- Second, vessels under sail are the “stand on” vessels when dealing with small motor boats. Motor boats are “Give way” vessels.
- Third, an overtaking vessel must stay clear of any vessels they overtake. (Overtaking are “give way” vessels)
- Forth, you must stop and offer assistance in any maritime accident
- Fifth, they’re just dumba**es.
Actually someone on shore hollered out to see if anyone was hurt. And we were fine. It was a low speed collision and there was no damage to our boat.
Later, I remembered that the collision regulations (collregs) say there is no right of way, and that everyone involved in a collision is in some way responsible. So I got to thinking, “what was our responsibility”?
I guess our skipper should have been looking around and been aware that the other boat was not staying back. Even if he didn’t do that, he might have been able to turn back into the wind and stopped his forward motion. I’m not exactly sure how much room he had, because it seemed like as soon as we turned, we ran into them pretty quick. I think there might have been some room.
There is no doubt J. was startled. Maybe didn’t react as quickly as he should have, but that’s armchair quarterbacking at its best.
Bottom line – be careful out there. You’re surrounded by…. well, you fill in the blank.