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Paddlers And The Navigation Rules

Old 03-13-2019, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gonnabe View Post
Someone else asked , but no answer, so I ask again.
Is it Legal to use a blue light on the water? I was pulled and boarded about three years ago at night while idling through a no-wake zone- the reason given was the interior (under gunwale lights) were blue and therefore illegal to be on while underway. Officer was very clear it was the color of the lights that were the offense.
This was in the great state of Maryland and a MD DNR officer's statements.
I responded, but may not have adequately addressed your question There is no federal law that precludes the use of a steady blue light on a boat as long as it doesn't violate Rule 20 b. Running a motorboat on a plane at night with a lit up cockpit will likely violate that rule. Maryland may have state specific rules that preclude the use of the lights you were displaying, but I am not familiar with Maryland law.
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Old 03-13-2019, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
Let me ask you this question for the sake of discussion. When you made your determination that 25 MPH was a safe speed in that environment, did you take into account that another vessel may be coming from behind the moored sailboats?
No. I did not.
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Old 03-13-2019, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
We need to commission a volunteer service of Launch Marshals to keep everyone straight! More seriously, as users it's up to us to educate other users who don't understand or aren't courteous enough to ensure harmony.
thankfully I come and go from a private dock 99% of the time.

I think the biggest issue lies with the state and local folks that want to make everything accessible to everyone, and are hesitant to tell any group “no.” In my opinion it is no different to tell kayakers that they cannot hang out at a particular launch site than it is to tell dog owners that they can’t hang out at particular parks. Some activities are simply not appropriate at certain facilities. The powers to be should recognize this and act accordingly when making rules for various facilities rather than just having a universal list that they use at all of them. Some folks are just idiots and need rules, as societal guidance is either unwelcome or ignored by them. They feel like their “rights,” including the “right to be in the way,” trump all else, and don’t care about being cordial.

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Old 03-13-2019, 12:42 PM
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I guess I should be thankful for so many shore access points in my area. No need for kayakers to use the boat ramps at all. Texas Parks and Wildlife has done an awesome job building kayak-specific launch sites in the popular areas like the Lighthouse Lakes on Harbor Island between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas. Nice flat crushed oyster parking lot with a clean sandy beach entry and usually a picnic table or pavilion or two on one side. Most of the ramps here are private anyway and I imagine they wouldn't want kayakers using their ramp and pissing off the next powerboater that is about to buy $200 worth of bait and fuel. My rule of thumb when kayaking is stay the fawk away from and out of the way of all powerboats. The above mentioned Lighthouse Lakes are awesome for kayaking because they are too shallow and have WAY too many oyster beds for powerboats to venture in there. Offshore, the powerboats mostly leave the nearshore oil rigs to the kayakers and head further out so there is rarely any interaction out there in my experience.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Ralph500 View Post
No. I did not.
The state of visibility is one of the factors we must take into account in arriving at our safe speed. We normally think about that in terms of darkness or fog, but it also encompasses our ability to see vessels that may enter our path from around blind bends, obstructions or other waterways.

"Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions."

To answer the question from your earlier post, in maritime collisions it is rare that any party is found to be "at fault." Rather a portion of the blame is placed on each boater. Let's just say in that incident had a collision resulted in which a person on the row boat was killed and you were found 20% at fault, you'd be liable for 20% of the value of that human life.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
I read that right after it occurred. It's hard to get follow details on these incidents. Rarely are there enough details to arrive at informed conclusions.

Plucking this from the article are there any navigation rules violations that stand out?

We don’t have any evidence of a crime, or that the people in the boat were operating recklessly,” Walker said. “So far it looks like a traffic accident.”

According to television news reports, the occupants of the boat were a couple in their 60s who didn’t realize what happened until nearby boaters alerted them to the crash.
I don't think so, it's kind of a funky harbor entrance with an outer breakwall that runs parallel to the beach and then a traditional channel with jetties either side. Works fine for the prevailing winds but sometimes we get them out of the south and it defies the way our harbors were designed.

Details are sketchy but it seems like the larger motor vessel was entering the channel and struck the kayak around the south jetty. Given our almost-daily afternoon winds and the fact that the couple on board didn't even know they hit her, I would imagine the wind chop was probably 1-2' on top of whatever swell and the kayaker shouldn't have been out there. I can't find any article that says explicitly that it was a rental, but typically when someone dies that is "experienced" in whatever activity resulted in their demise, that fact is pointed out in the article.

Here's a picture of the harbor in question; most rental shacks I'm aware of make sure to point out the PFD and the fact that you are not to leave the harbor. Proverbial wrong place, wrong time, but certainly more avoidable for the kayak than the 50 footer

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Old 03-13-2019, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hbouldin1216 View Post
I don't think so, it's kind of a funky harbor entrance with an outer breakwall that runs parallel to the beach and then a traditional channel with jetties either side. Works fine for the prevailing winds but sometimes we get them out of the south and it defies the way our harbors were designed.

Details are sketchy but it seems like the larger motor vessel was entering the channel and struck the kayak around the south jetty. Given our almost-daily afternoon winds and the fact that the couple on board didn't even know they hit her, I would imagine the wind chop was probably 1-2' on top of whatever swell and the kayaker shouldn't have been out there. I can't find any article that says explicitly that it was a rental, but typically when someone dies that is "experienced" in whatever activity resulted in their demise, that fact is pointed out in the article.

Here's a picture of the harbor in question; most rental shacks I'm aware of make sure to point out the PFD and the fact that you are not to leave the harbor. Proverbial wrong place, wrong time, but certainly more avoidable for the kayak than the 50 footer
I really wish we had enough details to learn from this accident and so many more like it. Was she hit from behind? Head on? port side? Starboard side? I cannot envision any scenario in which I was maintaining a lookout as required by the rules of the road and managed to run over a kayak without seeing it. I can't envision a scenario in which if I were the investigating officer I would not cite the motor boat operator for failure to maintain a proper lookout at a minimum. Even in a chop a kayak remains visible to alert boaters. Heck, around here we have boaters who manage to dodge 9" crab pot floats in all kinds of conditions.
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
I really wish we had enough details to learn from this accident and so many more like it. Was she hit from behind? Head on? port side? Starboard side? I cannot envision any scenario in which I was maintaining a lookout as required by the rules of the road and managed to run over a kayak without seeing it. I can't envision a scenario in which if I were the investigating officer I would not cite the motor boat operator for failure to maintain a proper lookout at a minimum. Even in a chop a kayak remains visible to alert boaters. Heck, around here we have boaters who manage to dodge 9" crab pot floats in all kinds of conditions.
You would probably have a better chance at getting a CG report, none of the news articles say much more than who she was and that alcohol was not a factor. All it said was "south jetty." I'd love to know more.

The harbors I was speaking more specifically where the rentals are an issue are Mission Bay (San Diego), Dana Point (Orange County) and Newport Beach. Mix in drunks in Duffy boats and it's a goddamn nightmare.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
I responded, but may not have adequately addressed your question There is no federal law that precludes the use of a steady blue light on a boat as long as it doesn't violate Rule 20 b. Running a motorboat on a plane at night with a lit up cockpit will likely violate that rule. Maryland may have state specific rules that preclude the use of the lights you were displaying, but I am not familiar with Maryland law.
There are plenty of stories about people being stopped for running blue lights. I agree it is not federal, it is state and at the end of the day, in the eye of the guy who stops you.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:06 AM
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I frequently encounter kayakers in my area. Usually in the river on my out to the ocean. I always make this assumption...They don't know what the hell they're doing. Although they usually do. Fortunately not a lot of renters in my area. I will slow down and wave them across the channel if they look like they want to cross. Sometimes they appear they don't know where they're going. Usually they're trying to figure if they can cross in front of me or wait till I pass. I almost always get a thank you wave. I still hear a recurring theme on some of these posts...Why the hell should I slow down or alter my course for these damn kayakers/rowers. WHY NOT? Always assume the idiot in front of you, or crossing your course doesn't know or care what they're doing. A lot do but many don't.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:12 AM
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A few years ago a kayaker almost got run over by my boat. He was out of the way on the side of the channel probably 100 feet away. He abruptly turned going right in front of my boat to cross the channel. Turns out he had ear buds in and was on a phone call and completely unaware of his surroundings. I am usually the one to scream at these idiots and usually my lady tells me to calm down. Well low and behold my lady starts chewing the guy out. I was blown away. High fived her and we went on our way. Now I tend to blow my horn any time there is anyone within a couple hundred feet. Some times they dont hear because they are listening to music and when passing they get "startled". I feel like its natural selection but I dont want to be the one that is involved in that process. i actually installed a dash cam for a couple years because i was so nervous one of these idiots would paddle right in front of me. happy to be further away from the rental place now.

Last edited by mystery; 03-14-2019 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:15 AM
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Thank you for response(s). Appears State's "blue light laws" are more restrictive than Federal laws. Of course many times it depends upon the officer's "interpretation".
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:17 AM
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stop going off-topic with the blue lights!

make a new thread or use PM!
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bumpye View Post
I frequently encounter kayakers in my area. Usually in the river on my out to the ocean. I always make this assumption...They don't know what the hell they're doing. Although they usually do. Fortunately not a lot of renters in my area. I will slow down and wave them across the channel if they look like they want to cross. Sometimes they appear they don't know where they're going. Usually they're trying to figure if they can cross in front of me or wait till I pass. I almost always get a thank you wave. I still hear a recurring theme on some of these posts...Why the hell should I slow down or alter my course for these damn kayakers/rowers. WHY NOT? Always assume the idiot in front of you, or crossing your course doesn't know or care what they're doing. A lot do but many don't.
I feel adjusting to the area should always fall on the paddler, as that has the lower total impact on the situation and area. It's a lot bigger deal for a planning hull to get off plane, then back on plane, when the paddler can simply drag a paddle. When the planning hull does that it makes massive plow wakes (even a small boat), where as them staying on plane maintains a reasonable wake. Nobody gets a pass for being an idiot. If someone is a paddler it should be their responsibility to pay attention and not cause others to have to chance course if that can be avoided.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:51 AM
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Paul - thanks for participating here. I'm certain that your patient efforts to engage on here are hugely appreciated and will make a real difference over the long run!

I think one of the biggest safety issues is that we power boaters often tend to think of boating rules in terms of "right of way" as if we were driving our cars. If I'm approaching an intersection and I have the green light I have the absolute right to drive at the speed limit through the light, and if someone runs their red light and I end up T-boning them, it's 100% their fault (assuming I did what little I could to brake or avoid in the moments before the crash).

In marine navigation, of course, the whole mind set is different. The stand-on / give-way vessel rules are designed to avoid collision situations in the first place, but nobody ever has the right to speed along with the expectation that others have to get out of their way. I think this misconception has led to a lot of avoidable collisions, where a captain believes they have a right of way and doesn't touch their throttle or wheel until it's too late.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:20 AM
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....So you had no knowledge that there was a rowing club there and that there are routinely shells on the water?

As a former collegiate oarsman I can see both sides a bit, however, I also suspect if the sport of rowing were called “football” (or whatever your passion is) and you had some interest in it that you would be a bit more tolerant.

When it comes to maneuverability shells certainly don’t come out on top. Take a 57-60 foot long boat with a total beam of close to 20 feet that has a rudder half the size of your hand and see what you can do.
I have been coming out of that channel for the past 15 years and that was the first time I have ever encountered a shell crossing the channel. So no routine there.

Besides you are not supposed to cross a channel in front of an outbound vessel specially with 10 or 15 HS kids. Shouldn't they have a spotter or another boat with them?

I recognized them as I have seen them in other areas of the bay.

No where in my post or on that day was I rude to them. My question was about total or partial liability which was answered.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mshugg View Post
First thanks for posting this thread. There’s a lot of missinformation and bad feelings on both sides of the paddle versus power, and we could add versus sail. I’m an Instructor Trainer in the American Canoe Association, meaning I train instructors who will go out and teach others to go out and behave in a safe and responsible manner. In addition to my paddle craft, I’m also a life long power boater.



When it comes to priorities, I find it helpful for paddlers to think and behave as if they are low on pecking order. After all the consequences are big if we do something dumb. I reccomend end that paddlers aply three basic tactics:

1 Be as visible as possible ( bright boats, clothing PFDs, etc), but behave as if you are invisible.
2 Avoid other water users whenever possible. The corollary is, assume everyone else is both drunk and stupid. This last is not allways true, but you won’t go too far wrong with the assumption.
3 When you must interact with other water users, be intentional and have a plan. For example: in a channel crossing minimize your exposure by crossing as a group, at right angle, and from known point to known point.

With all of that said, the most important rule is that every captain must take action to prevent a collision. As paddlers, power Boater’s or sailers we are all responsible for this rule.
I agree, when I (rarely) kayak fish, I have a flag for visibility.
Drunk boating, unfortunately common.

A good question to ask yourself is "What am I going to say in court after I kill/cripple this kayaker"
Within 3 miles of the coast, you can be charged w NJ criminal law.
And smile, you are on camera! In 2019, everyone from 8 to 80 has a cellphone!
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Ralph500 View Post

Besides you are not supposed to cross a channel in front of an outbound vessel
I don't really get this? If it were a 30ft CC or 60ft sport fisherman, would you make the same statement? Which vessel was the stand on and which vessel was the give way?
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:11 AM
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I don't really get this? If it were a 30ft CC or 60ft sport fisherman, would you make the same statement? Which vessel was the stand on and which vessel was the give way?
I was outbound in the channel. You are not supposed to impede the path of a vessel in the channel unless you signal etc.

You are definitely not supposed dart across the channel without any signal.



§ 83.09 Narrow channels (Rule 9).(a)

(i) A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.

(ii) Notwithstanding paragraph (a)(i) of this Rule and Rule 14(a) (§ 83.14(a)), 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) (§ 83.34(a)(i)), as appropriate. The vessel proceeding upbound against the current shall hold as necessary to permit safe passing.

(b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel that can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

(c) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any other vessel navigating within a narrow channel or fairway.

(d) A vessel must not cross a narrow channel or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within such channel or fairway. The lattervessel must use the signal prescribed in Rule 34(d) (§ 83.34(d)) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing vessel.

(e)

(i) In a narrow channel or fairway when overtaking, the power-driven vessel intending to overtake another power-driven vessel shall indicate her intention by sounding the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(c) (§ 83.34(c)) and take steps to permit safe passing. The power-driven vessel being overtaken, if in agreement, shall sound the same signal and may, if specifically agreed to, take steps to permit safe passing. If in doubt she shall sound the signal prescribed in Rule 34(d) (§ 83.34(d)).

(ii) This Rule does not relieve the overtaking vessel of her obligation under Rule 13 (§ 83.13).

(f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a narrow channel or fairway where other vesselsmay be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(e) (§ 83.34(e)).

(g) Any vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel.

[79 FR 37912, July 2, 2014, as amended by USCG-2015-0433, 80 FR 44280, July 27, 2015; USCG-2016-0498, 82 FR 35080, July 28, 2017]
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by gonnabe View Post
Thank you for response(s). Appears State's "blue light laws" are more restrictive than Federal laws. Of course many times it depends upon the officer's "interpretation".

Here's another note on steady blue lights. They are often seen in the marine environment. Tug boat pilots pushing barges will put a comparatively dim blue light on the front center barge. That way they can tell where their nose is. While they aren't recognized navigation light in the navigation rules, because they cannot be easily mistaken for any other navigation light and they don't hinder the ability to maintain a close lookout, they are ideal being employed in that capacity.
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