Advice on a minor collision


It opens the door to a great defense. “Your honor, I assure you that although my client’s sails were furled, he had disengaged the gearbox just prior to the collision so he could go below and heat water for a cup of tea. Under his status as a sailing vessel, he naturally assumed that the power vessel to his right would alter course and avoid this unfortunate accident.” :roll_eyes:


Except for Rule 2

Furthermore, Rule 2 holds the mariner responsible not only for complying with the Rules but for avoiding collisions. Merely complying with the Rules is not enough.


Seriously? SERIOUSLY!!! Pay for it??

Firstly, I’m not the one having a legal issue.
Secondly, opinions are like a$$holes - everybody has one.
Thirdly, without any legal or scholarly justification, one’s opinion has no validity. Including mine.
Fourthly, there are a lot of attorneys offering legal opinions in the media. Yes, they are being paid by the network to opine, but their opinion on legal maters is just that: OPINION, not ADVICE!!!
Lastly: If you critically read my post, the operative word was “comment”, not advice.

So with my 23 years as a deck officer in the industry, all on deep-sea vessels, some years as master, all with no groundings, collisions, and more than one “oh sh!t-we were lucky”, I made my original comment.

Some contributors to this issue have evaded the question of “propelled by machinery” by diverting the conversation to intent - vis a vie “running with engine and sail, and just before collision, turning off engine”. Others have stated emphatically either that running the engine in neutral is a vessel under power, is is not under power until the propeller is turning. Who is correct??

At least Kennebec_Captain, in his most recent post, made an attempt to provide some justification.


I thought it was obvious but I see now that I should have added “The above comment intended as humor only. Not a valid legal defense.”


Poe’s Law, on this thread the (apparently serious) argument was made that size or maneuverability of vessels should NOT be taken into account in collision avoidance.


Point taken. Please see revised post.


Unless it’s on a billboard or in a late night TV advert claiming to get you millions of $ from whomever offended you.


Rule 8; Action to avoid Collision

(f) (ii) A vessel required not to impede the passage or the safe passage of another vessel is not relieved of this latter obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision and shall, when taking action, have «full regard to the action which may be required» by the rules of this Part.

Having «full regard to the action which may be required»; like using the engine if it’s readily available to avoid a collision.




Rule 8 f applies to rules 9, 10 and 18 which use the language “shall not impede” - not applicable in this case.


There are only a few circumstances where one vessel will be held blameless in a collision.

  1. Where one vessel is moored to a wharf.
  2. Where one vessel is at anchor, except in South Korea.
  3. Where a sailing vessel is becalmed and does not have mechanical propulsion but must have taken steps to warn the other vessel that a danger of collision existed.


In the optic that «Full regard to the action which may be required» as in the Rules, nothing shall exonerate any vessel from the consequences of;
• any neglect to comply with these Rules,
• the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen,
• the special circumstances of the case,
• the limitations of the vessels involved,
• all dangers of navigation and collision.

«Full regard to the action which may be required» or necessary to avoid an immediate danger, as in the end of the day, the question will always be; «Why didn’t you do this or why did you do that? »


The first thing you do is stop making statements on a public forum that could hurt your case. I believe what you meant to say was my friend was on a sailboat that hit another sailboat


I’m still unsure, and forgive me if I missed this part, but was the other vessel “under sail”. If it wasn’t “under sail” then it can’t be considered a sailing vessel. And in that case whether it was in gear or not I would consider it a PDV.


Also, Without 100% of the facts here I’d call it closer to 60/40 with the OP only sharing 40% blame.


In my opinion litigation would be a horrible idea. You admittedly T-Boned the guy. If it were me I would apologize, and offer to pay his insurance deductible. You’re lucky no one was injured. The COLREGS are iron clad when it comes to collision avoidance, and you are both in violation.

Aside from the above noted violations you may considered the following.

Did you initiate meeting arrangements as required by Rule 34?
Were you within the line of demarcation at the time of collision? If so were you complying with the Inland section of Rule 34? This is sound signals and/or VHF comunications.
Were you maintaining VHF watch on 16/13? Did you’re boat have an efficient method of sounding appropriate sound signals? If so did you sound the danger signal before T-bonning the other guy.

You say you we’re on the bow taking down sails while you’re daughter was at the helm. To play devils advocate, it could be construed that if you’re on the bow taking down the sails you weren’t in direct control of the vessel. It was you’re daughter who was at the helm controlling the vessel and its engine. Is this a state which requires a license to operate a water craft? If so is you’re daughter of legal age, and licensed to do so? Seems like a ridiculous argument, but you never know what could come up in court.


All good questions but way ahead of the curve. The OP seems only dimly aware of COLREGs and hasn’t even mentioned yet whether it’s just a matter of gel coat getting scuffed or if there were splinters flying and bodies falling. Nobody knows.
It did spark a spirited but thoroughly enjoyable back and forth about an interesting point. Does “propelled by machinery” mean at a particular moment in time or as a design attribute?
Who knows what a $900/hr silver tongued attorney can accomplish.
As for the OP, in command of the vessel, under power and underway, busy dousing sails and forgetting to look out, his kid at the wheel, ramming another boat vaguely described as possibly “drifting”. It doesn’t look good.
He shouldn’t be surprised when his insurance rates go up.