Mailboat Letters

Published: April 2011

Right Of Way?

In January's issue, you state that "right of way" is not mentioned in the COLREGS; while this is technically true, Inland Rule 9 — Narrow Channels — states: … a power-driven vessel operating in narrow channels or fairways on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or waters specified by the Secretary, and proceeding downbound with a following current shall have the right-of-way over an upbound vessel…

So, since the corresponding international rule does not contain that text, and COLREGS refers to international only — see Introduction, page IV.

The International Rules in this book were formalized in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, and became effective on July 15, 1977. The Rules (commonly called 72 COLREGS)…

You're correct, but it's a very fine line. I teach the Rules to our flotilla's Boating Skills & Seamanship classes and always point out that exception.

GREAT STUFF in any case! I still have my copy of Seaworthy mailed to me so I can pass it around.


End of story marker

I note the letter in the January 2011 issue of Seaworthy regarding the term "right of way" in the Navigation Rules of the Road; that term is found in the Inland Rules of the Road in Rule 9 — Narrow Channels, and Rule 14 — Head-On Situation. Those rules state that "a power-driven vessel operating in narrow channels or fairways on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or waters specified by the Secretary, and proceeding downbound with a following current shall have the right-of-way over an upbound vessel, shall propose the manner and place of passage, and shall initiate the maneuvering signals prescribed by Rule 34(a)(i), as appropriate."

The term "right of way" can also be found in 33 CFR 162 Inland Waterways Navigation Regulations, specifically 33 CFR 162.40(c) and 33 CFR 162.205. Furthermore boating laws on some sole state waters, such as Oregon and Arizona, use the term "right of way" in their navigation rules. I'm sure there are other states as well.

What that amounts to is that the right-of-way rules can supersede the normal vessel give-way and stand-on requirements in a given situation, and mariners operating on any waterway should be aware of any right of way. In the end, however, as the courts ruled in the Hercules decision, "There is no right of way on which a vessel is entitled to insist when it is obvious that it will result in a danger of collision."


Photo of snow-covered boat

Winter And Covered Slips

Thought you might find this interesting. This is no way to winterize your boat. These photos were taken at Delta Lake region, which is just north of Rome in Central New York, this past weekend.


Consumer Protection

I had an engine shop install a new engine with two Balmar alternators, each of which is run by two V-belts. Because the engine drive could handle only a single pulley with two belts, the marina installed a second pulley that I later found did not match the original one. They also installed undersized belts, which quickly began to wear. Balmar confirmed my suspicions, but the marina disagreed that there was any problem with their installation.

After suggesting several different ways to resolve this situation, I gave up and just asked that the shop provide me with two belts of the correct size. Even though this didn't seem like a difficult solution, it wasn't until the BoatUS Consumer Protection Bureau got involved that the shop sent the belts.

I've never used this BoatUS service before, and I hope I never have to again. But I'm really glad that you are there. BoatUS is tops in service!


Photo of a home-made scupper unclogger

Supersize Your Scuppers

In the January 2011 Seaworthy, "Coping With Winter," you addressed clogged cockpit scuppers. Having a Neptune 24 sailboat with small cockpit drains and a cabin companionway lip only a few inches high, it wouldn't take much to flood the cabin with rain water or snow melt if they were to become clogged. After scratching my head for a couple of seasons, I think I have finally figured out a solution: I bought some Amerimax Home Products house rain gutter strainers from a local hardware store. They are soft aluminum mesh, shaped like a cylinder about five inches high and crimped at the top. I simply made two vertical cuts with metal shears and cut out some of the mesh so I could shape it into a small-enough diameter that it will squeeze into the scupper drain opening. Now I have effectively added about four inches of drain capability above the cockpit sole so if leaves fall into the cockpit, the drain will remain open for a lot longer before clogging; even when I haven't visited the boat for a month, the scuppers have never been clogged.


New Seaworthy Format

I always enjoyed reading Seaworthy in paper format. It is the only boating publication my wife reads. I found your previous electronic publications so difficult to use that I got into the habit of deleting the e-mail without even opening the publication. My wife objected to that so I got in the habit of forwarding it to her before deleting it from my own computer. I did that with misgivings because I then had to listen to her mutter about how frustrating it was to read.

The new version is much improved. I read it and enjoyed it. Thanks.


Oscar, The Rest Of The Story

I would like to thank you for the article about Mr. Dan Richter. Those are the testimonies that we need most nowadays to motivate more visitors to our tourist destinations, contrary to the very bad reviews of some media newspapers and others.

We all hope the perception of U.S. citizens of our country will change in the near future.


Lapsed Attention

One of Seaworthy's VERY BEST articles was "Electronically Aided Collisions," showing many examples of skippers watching the chart plotter screen but not looking up to see the small boat dead ahead. Or setting the autopilot and going below for coffee, while his big boat runs over a small boat at 30 knots and kills two people. And the skipper then goes to prison for five years because he didn't read Seaworthy.

I have issues back to 2003 that I reread to refresh my knowledge of safety, seamanship, and economical operation.

God bless the writers of Seaworthy for such a wonderful, life-saving, and accident-avoiding magazine!


Tales Of The Turtle

It was December 16 at 4:30 p.m. and the sun was just starting to get close to the horizon. We were boating back from Marathon to Key Largo, Florida, and were in Buttonwood Sound. Within the next 30 minutes, we'd be safely back at our marina in Key Largo and it would be dark.

Randy looked up and said, "Floater." That's what we call floating logs that could cause damage to the prop. It had algae growing on it. As we passed it, I realized it was a turtle. I had toured the Marathon Turtle Hospital the year before and knew that a turtle floating on top of the water long enough to grow algae was not a good thing. We could tell it had been hit by a boat prop but didn't know what was wrong otherwise. The wound didn't look fresh.

We called the Marathon Turtle Hospital and were told that due to the late hour, they wouldn't be able to get out in time for a rescue but they'd give us permission to do a citizen's rescue. We looked at the huge turtle thinking, "Yeah, that'll happen," but we gave it a shot. Randy is about 5'10" and 190. I'm 5'3" and 110. Randy was able to get a hold of him, but he was bigger than we thought and he got away and dove under water out of reach. He wasn't able to stay underwater and floated back to the surface.

We called back to the hospital and told them we wouldn't be able to rescue it ourselves. They called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and they sent out an officer. Racquel came out expecting to "assist the turtle people in a rescue." Umm …we had planned on assisting her. When we said that, she called for backup. While we waited, she and Randy were able to get a rope around the turtle, which we now affectionately referred to as Sparky. They tried to lift him onto our boat's dive platform but he was too big. We started to slowly drag him back by rope to the dock, which was two miles away, when backup came. Renee was bigger than Randy, and between the two of them with me offering what little help I could, we finally got Sparky up on the platform. We slowly headed back to the Fish and Wildlife dock.

Andy from the Marathon Turtle Hospital met us there in a turtle ambulance. He checked Sparky over and then three guys lifted him onto a harness so they could easily carry him to the ambulance. Andy did a quick assessment of Sparky's vitals, hooked him up to an IV, and drove him to Marathon. It was now 9:00 p.m.

We went to visit Sparky two weeks later at the hospital. He's doing very well. His wound was old and had actually healed quite well. However, while floating on the surface waiting to heal, he ended up eating things he should not have, which caused an impaction and an infection. We were told that with the cold weather spell that followed the rescue, Sparky would have died had we not stopped to save him.

He's safely in a large tub at the hospital where he is being cared for and slowly introduced to more food. He weighed 218 and should weigh closer to 250. They are hoping he is healthy enough to be released in a few months.

Our new boat is a 2007 Regal 2565 named Forever Young.End of story marker



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