COLREGS question

We took delivery of a small dredge to maintain a private channel.

A diesel operates the hydraulic pump and winch but does not propel the vessel. We’ll use a jon boat with an outboard as a support vessel and on a side tie to move it back and forth to the work site. Once on site, the dredge is moved by using anchors and wire rodes controlled with PTO winches and their position marked with floats. The dredge is anchored but still moving.
My question: While working, the dredge is restricted in its ability to maneuver. Should we be displaying conventional RAM day shapes and lights or shapes and lights indicating an anchored barge?

PS The dredge was delivered without any day shapes or lights. It wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t any traffic involved but the channel is private in terms of being used by homeowners to transit in and out of a harbor and a system of canals on a small island administered by an HOA.

IMHO, RAM would be most appropriate. You want to signal to other vessels that your dredge is moving and unable to keep clear of other vessels as required by the rules but also attached to the bottom.
Rule 27 (d)(iii) states when a RAM vessel who is dredging, is at anchor it should show the RWR and GG/RR as appropriate.

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Thanks for your response. You confirmed that I may have been over-thinking the solution.

That’s what I always see on working dredges, though I expect that it would never be an issue if they didn’t fly anything on that tiny thing in a private channel.

The channel is 1000’ long by 100’ wide, used by about 500 boaters. The dredge is 23 ’ long. While it’s true that most weekend warriors don’t have a clue about colregs and wouldn’t know the difference between day shapes and Halloween decorations, all it takes is one WAFI running into your gear and his lawyer will cry foul because you weren’t flying the ball-diamond-ball.
Also the CG aux occasionally comes into the harbor looking for expired registrations and checking for safety equipment. They’re bound to come sniffing around this new operation.

I’ll play it safe, it’s not that big of an expense.

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Just make some out of plywood maybe? Doesn’t sound like a 24 hour op, so the lights probably aren’t needed with that little thing, but cheap home made day shapes would be a good idea.

PS. Looks like a fun little toy there, the HOA at least giving you a year free for running it for them?

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Just get a bull horn and give those WAFI’s a piece of your mind if they encroach.


You’re right in that there’s no reason to run at a night. Our permits allows a couple of weeks to get the job done and unless there’s a long run of really bad weather, it’s not a problem. I have no intention of running the thing although I might volunteer to operate the support boat for fun. Our maintenance manager is an ex army LCV sailor and I’m happy to let him to do the hard work.
As a member of the dredging committee it was on my recommendation that we went this route. The HOA had been spending 50 to 60K a year to have an outfit with a barge and an excavator do a terrible job.
Last year, their barge with the excavator on deck sank to the bottom of a nearby river and that’s how we got to where we are. As far as I’m concerned, the sinking was a blessing in disguise. The HOA can afford to weld a mast on the thing and buy some air inflated day shapes.

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That might help. I ran COE survey boats for a time and you’d be amazed at how weekend warriors blast through dredging operations at full speed and with not a care in the world. In my last year working out of Galveston, a young girl was killed in grisly fashion because dad launched the family runabout off a submerged dredge pipe. Everyone got ejected and the empty boat at full throttle circled back and the prop decapitated her. Can’t take anything for granted.

Going in that direction but wood is not the best material. Shopping for day shapes jogged my memory of having to fit a small survey launch with RAM day shapes. The ones available commercially were and evidently still seem to only be designed for ships, nothing smaller. Their diamonds are 24" wide by 48" high and the balls 24" in diameter. They would dwarf a 23’ long barge.
The solution with the survey launch was to weld four half circle shapes for a ball and triangular shapes for the diamonds of proportionate size out of aluminum and paint them black. The mast was a pipe in a simple fitting that would be secured upright or to the cabin top using a clevis pin.
The CG was happy with it.

Yeah, I was just thinking that the project might not take very long and that marine grade plywood painted up would do the trick on a shoe string budget.

Defender Marine online has foldable shapes about 18" diameter for $6…


From observation of various peoples use of the water and consideration shown to others… It is generally the PAFIs who are your greatest risk… Particularly those PAFIs on jet skiis and those with over blown outboards who are hapoy to speed through moored boats or near where people are swimming.

PAFI … petrol assisted f*****g idiots.

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