Advice on a minor collision


#1

Recreational sailor here with a question regarding the colregs. Not sure if this is the right forum but here goes…
I tboned another sailboat the other day while taking down my sails. I was on a starboard tack and they were off my Port bow. I had my engine on in neutral and was making a knot or two. I had assumed they were moving and we would take their stern but they were just drifting. Their engine was on when we colided into their starboard bow. They have later claimed that their engine was off but this isn’t true.
My daughter was at the helm and put us hard over to starboard just before collision and they other boat made zero effort to avoid us. They admitted to not being at watch prior to the collision.
I believe we were the stand-on vessel here…thoughts?


#2

If you guys both had propellers in use, you sir are the stand on vessel because you are to the starboard and you are both considered power driven vessels (they see your red light and you see their green light). This is coming down to he said/she said. If you had a propeller in use and they were sailing, the sailing vessel has the right of way. Other rules apply if both vessels were sailing, the sailing vessel with the wind on the starboard has the right away. This doesn’t seem to be the case since you had a propeller in use and apparently they did too. Just my take.


#3

Get an attorney and make contact with your insurer is my advice. As @DirtyCoast just said, this is turning into a he said she said situation and will probably have to be settled in court.

One thing to remember about collisions at sea is that it is very rare that one party takes all of the blame when more than one vessel is involved. A certain amount of fault and liability is typically assessed on both parties.


#4

Plus you didn’t take avoiding action even if you were the stand on vessel when it became apparent that action by the giveway vessel wouldn’t be sufficient to avoid collision.


#5

This will help your case. Always need a lookout, rule 5.


#6

Let me get this right. They were not making way (drifting), you were making way and hit them. And just because they were on on your port side think it is their fault.

If they were drifting wouldn’t they be somewhat restricted in their ability to maneuver?


#7

They were most definitely not restricted in ability to maneuver from what he wrote - that has everything to do with work ie fixing a buoy, dredging, servicing a pipeline, diver in the water etc . They are either a power driven vessel or a sailing vessel. But you raise a valid point that EVEN as the stand on (if they were both power driven) the stand on needs to take evasive action if the give way vessel fails to.


#8

The case could be more probably made for Not Under Command though it is highly doubtful this was indicated as per the COLREGS.


#9

Also, was this daytime or night time? Day shapes could also play a roll.


#10

Day shapes?..We are talking about 2 WAFI’s here. One drifting and one transitioning from sail to power where the guy has his daughter at the wheel as he goes up to take down the sails. He assumes the other guy is moving but wasn’t…Bang.


#11

Yea, I went to dayshapes. Dayshape for a sailing vessel with propulsion in use has a cone Apex down. NUC and RAM have dayshapes as well. I understand your point of view, this shouldn’t have happened. Just trying to make a case for the guy.


#12

Well at least his daughter turned to starboard at the last moment. Better that than to port


#13

Yup, I was thinking the same.


#14

He may have told his daughter to maintain or sail such and such a course to allow him to take down the sails until too late (just conjecture on my part).


#15

It was daytime and no shapes on the drifter.
It should be noted we were 300 yards from the entrance to a busy marina on a Sunday with traffic all around. On odd place to drift about. This was the main reason we held course. I thought it impossible to be drifting unless disabled.


#16

We did attempt to avoid them at the last minute by turning to starboard but we could get the bow around fast enough.


#17

If you can prove they had engines engaged I think your case is stronger. I would use Rule 5 as my main argument, they didn’t have a lookout. As a general rule, when I’m driving a tug and barges I assume all pleasure crafts and sailing vessels are drunk because there are quite a few accidents involving recreational vessels and alot of them don’t know the first thing about sailing or driving a boat.


#18

In some cases courts have found that the vessel hitting a stopped vessel is at fault. - Good seamanship, Rule 2.

This is from another thread:

From Farwell’s:

The same line of reasoning that presumes it bad seamanship to hit a vessel that is moored or at anchor applies when a collision occurs between a vessel with way upon her and one that is lying dead in the water.

There are a some cases cited, this was a ship stopped in the Delaware River:

The obligation on the part of free vessels to avoid risk of collision with those incumbered, or at rest, is imperative…

Another case, a ship stopped waiting for a pilot:

In was in any event the duty of Sestriere, as a matter of good seamanship in the special circumstances of the case… to take timely action to keep clear of the Alonso who arrived on the scene first…


#19

Depending on the monetary extent of the damage and the possibility of physical injury claims I would do as Damn Yankee suggested and get an attorney.
Civil court judges and attorneys are generally not familiar with maritime law so if you go that route, get your money’s worth and hire an attorney who specializes in maritime law.
I also suggest that you write out a narrative of the event. It will save the attorney time and it’s best to do it while the event is still fresh in your mind.


#20

Usually it is the insurance company that will obtain a lawyer, if necessary. A lot of yacht club collisions and allisons are simple insurance claims, hopefully that is the case for you.