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Thread: COLREG Rule 9

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Question COLREG Rule 9

    A number of entries were DSQ'd in this year's East Bay Estuary Race. What is the Rule and what did they do? I olnly wnat to know so that I don't do it in the future.
    Last edited by glythcott; 09-14-2007 at 10:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Rule 9
    Narrow Channels

    (a) A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel of fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.

    (b) A vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

    (c) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any other vessel navigating within a narrow channel or fairway.

    (d) A vessel shall not cross a narrow channel or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within such channel or fairway. The latter vessel may use the sound signal prescribed in Rule 34(d) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing vessel.

    (e) (i) In a narrow channel or fairway when overtaking can take place only if the vessel to be overtaken has to take action to permit safe passing, the vessel intending to overtake shall indicate her intention by sounding the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(c)(i). The vessel to be overtaken shall, if in agreement, sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(c)(ii) and take steps to permit safe passing. If in doubt she may sound the signals prescribed in Rule 34(d).

    (ii) This Rule does not relieve the overtaking vessel of her obligation under Rule 13.

    (f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a narrow channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(e).

    (g) Any vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Hi George,

    (Brian types faster than I do so this is a partial repeat.)

    Here is the rule from the Standing Sailing Instructions of the SSS:

    "2.a. A boat that impedes the passage of a vessel that can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway, or impedes the passage of a vessel with limited maneuverability, will be subject to protest by the Race Committee or other boats and will face disqualification. Reference: International/Inland Rules 9 and 18."

    The full text of ColRegs is here:

    Please note these navigation rules apply to all boats at all times (not just racers), and compliance with them is considered basic seamanship.

    There is a well-marked ship channel from the West span of the Bay Bridge to the mouth of the Oakland Estuary (marked with red and green buoys). A boat should know when it's in that channel - it's like standing in the middle of a freeway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    San Francisco Bay Area


    I'm one of those that DSQ'd, upon a gentle and gentlemanly reminder by our Commodore.

    I was so enthralled by the group of boats ahead of me...I will not name names....who were subjected to multiple 5-horn blasts by the incoming container ship that was ahead of me as well, that I totally forgot to look around. Imagine my shock when I heard the honk from the tug escorting the huge ship right BEHIND me. He was less than three quarters (read about 9-10 minutes) of a mile behind the one ahead that I'd been watching. The tug skipper leaned his head out of his pilothouse and gave me and Max on Solar Wind a piece of his mind, though. I changed course about 30 seconds later, but at that point I really should have been DSQ'd...My Bad for not looking around, more.

    Now, just as an aside, there were about a dozen SSS boats in a cluster, right at the mouth of the Estuary, that were honked at with 5 horn blasts by this ship...this having been done THREE times....and none of them have DSQ'd themselves from the race. I KNOW who three of those boats were, and there were almost certainly at least a couple more.

    I don't mind the DSQ for me, but folks, come on....

    When a ship sits on it's horn THREE the "get out of my way" five blasts, THREE TIMES and you don't DSQ yourself, it ain't right. I know the situation was tough, where can you go, eh? It's light air, you have the chute up, where can you go? But we gotta do what's right.

    The other issue is, stuff like that right pisses off the tug skippers and ship skippers. All sailors in the Estuary feel that flak at some point. Are there going to be repercussions for this? It's the worst incident in terms of right-of-way in a limited maneuver channel I've ever seen.
    S-2 7.9: "Wildcat of Loch Awe"
    1968 Selmer Series 9 B-flat and A clarinets
    1962Buesher "Aristocrat" tenor saxophone
    Piper One Design 24, Hull #35; "Alpha"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    What's really unfortunate is that the skippers that were the most forthcoming in admitting their errors are the ones that pay the penalty, while those who failed to come forward do not. That's hardly fair. There was some talk of cancelling the entire race, but that was vetoed since it punished those that had nothing to do with the situation. There was certainly some merit in the idea, though.

    I spent an entire day on the phone and typing emails to try and sort out what happened and identify who was involved. I probably didn't identify everyone, but I can only go by what the skippers tell me, since I wasn't there. It was not a fun day, and I never want to have to do that again. It was truely an unfortunate situation, a 'perfect storm' of events with two ships converging on the fleet at the same time. After conversations with many of the skippers, I got the feeling that most of the infractions were honest errors and not aggressive attempts to cross in front of the ships to place better in the race. So at least that's a good thing.

    - Mark

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