I’m a moderator over at Cruisers Forum, which is a quite large site for cruising sailors. We have 100,000+ members. We share the seas with you, and while almost all of of us have a healthy respect for commercial shipping and some of us are quite skillful mariners, many of us do not adequately understand the Colregs or know how to behave when we find ourselves on an intersecting course with a large commercial vessel.
We have had a hot debate recently about how to deal with crossing situations with commercial shipping. One faction advocates thorough understanding of the Colregs and following them – identifying “0 CPA” situations as early as possible, and standing on, at least for a while, if that’s what the Colregs require, to give the other vessel a chance to make the first move as required by the Colregs. But then maneuvering ourselves if the other vessel doesn’t make any alteration in course by the time the vessels are, say, two miles apart – recognizing that sometimes you can’t see us. The argument is that it helps the guy on the bridge of the other vessel if we don’t manuever in an unexpected way – if we do what the Colregs require.
The second faction says something like – forget the Colregs – tonnage rules – just get the hell out of the way. The first faction says – of course keep out of the way if you can do it really early, but if you find yourself on an intersecting course at four or five miles off, and you are supposed to be the stand-on vessel, it hurts rather than helps the guy on the bridge to start manuevering willy-nilly, without giving him a chance to work out his own maneuver.
Does anybody want to comment on this? We know that we cause you guys a lot of irritation sometimes, and we’ve heard the term WAFI before :). We would like to be less like WAFIs and more like responsible users of the sea. Your input might really help us.
One thing to keep in mind: We often do not have the technical resources you do. The question is a lot easier for anyone who has AIS, of course. But a lot of sailors, like me, use a hand bearing compass and recreational radar set which is good for calculating distance, but which does not produce meaningful CPA data.