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Thread: The Gross Tonnage Rule

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down The Gross Tonnage Rule

    How's it go again... power vs. sail... power vs. tiny unpowered sailboat that's leading in a regatta... no, not a channel, no restrictions on the larger vessel's ability to maneuver...





  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    We love the foreshortening of a telephoto but still . . .

    Here lies the body of Michael O'Day.
    He died defending his right of way.
    He was right, dead right, as he sailed along
    But just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Not much foreshortening - it was a cell phone camera. The sailboat - which btw is a batera, a traditional wooden skiff out of which a racing class was recently made - was actually beneath the cruise ship's prow, and ended up surfing the bow wave.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Ah Ha! I was guessing from the horizon line. Hope the batera skipper got a good fright.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Is winning the race worth dying for? He's completely in the lee under that ship. I'd have gone astern.

    - Norm

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    He said they were leading, sitting to windward with one eye on the finish line and the other on the competition astern. They had seen the ship approaching, but like most of us had assumed that it would either slow down or turn slightly to pass astern of the race. When they saw it next it was on top of them and they thought that going for it was their best chance. The SOB actually turned on his bow thrusters to help propel them out of his way...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Reminds me of the last scene in Captain Ron
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    The SOB actually turned on his bow thrusters to help propel them out of his way...
    Well, I'd suggest protesting the race result. If the leading boat arranges for and accepts support by being pushed by bow thrusters and by being offered a wave to surf on on an otherwise calm sea, I'd say this is accepting help from third parties beyond the stretchiness of the rules.

    ;-)

    Honestly - everyone should be glad that nothing happened beyond a healthy scare. I've missed a commercial vessel in a situation where I was concentrating fully on a race - and hopefully I have learned from it never to do that again.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Holmes Hole Sailing Association, hosts of the Moffett Cup etc., makes clear that they will disqualify on the RC's judgement any boat that crosses to closely ahead of any commercial vessel.

    Perhaps a cruise ship passing this spot is too rare for the RC to have thought of this, but at the minimum the lead boat had a duty to get on 13 and discern the cruise ship's intent.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    I disagree with the prevailing view here. I am dismayed that a cruise ship would behave in such a manner when it could have avoided the fleet of small vessels by simply altering course to starboard by about ten degrees, or approaching a wee bit more slowly. There is no channel and no restrictions of any sort in that piece of water.

    It would have been the legal thing to do, the seamanlike thing to do, and the gentlemanly thing to do. We sailors may have gotten so used to seeing the COLREGS abused by commercial vessels that we have come to expect such behaviour from freighters on conveyer-belt routes, or from local service vessels who act as if they owned their local waters. But I would have expected better from a cruise ship's captain and officers.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    I'm about half way with you George. Sailboats milling about can be most anything from a closely grouped racing fleet to a fleet to a fleet some of whom are about to tack to some racing and others going wherever . . .

    When in doubt the more difficultly handled boat ought to stand on and give the nimble boats a clear notion as to what's up. Just as I have some criticism of the sailors for not communicating, I don't have direct info but assuming no sound or radio attempts, the cruise ship also failed in normal seaman duties.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    I get out of the way of NFL fullbacks, large farm animals, automobiles and trucks, when I am walking. and I stay clear of all shipping that is larger than me.
    I believe that power tools can bite me, hot stoves can burn me, and ice is slippery so I exercise a great deal of caution when I am involved with these things. After all Darwin rules!

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Here lies the body of Michael O'Day.
    He died defending his right of way.
    He was right, dead right, as he sailed along
    But just as dead as if he'd been wrong.
    Ok, can I get a towel to dry off my monitor? I seem to have covered it in my morning coffee... LOL

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    ...I don't have direct info but assuming no sound or radio attempts, the cruise ship also failed in normal seaman duties.
    No warning at all. I actually warned my crew to stand by for a deafening blast of the horn, as we were quite near ourselves, but none came.

    Quote Originally Posted by ssor View Post
    ... I stay clear of all shipping that is larger than me.
    We try to. It can be a bit hard when they move at 20+ knots.

    Sometimes I think that with the exponentially increasing shipping, and the apparent concurrent decrease in seamanship and courtesy at sea, we sailors will soon be as out of place and in danger in coastal waters near ports as kids on bicycles on an expressway.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    George, I'm not meaning to be argumentative, because I agree with your point that COLREGS are clear on this type of thing and the ship is behaving with discourtesy at best and reckless abandon at worst. There is also the thought that the professional in the situation should take responsibility for ensuring everyone's safe passage.

    However - and it's a big however - there are 2 important considerations. The first is that OOD of that ship may not have been aware of the fact that anyone is racing, unless, as Iain says, the race committee was doing its job (which we don't know). The second is that the sailboat might have been completely invisible to the ship. That close under the bows is pretty much a dead zone to both radar and eyeballs. That's why I give ships a wide berth and the benefit of any doubt. It's not good seamanship IMO to assume the other fellow is keeping a good lookout - especially when he's 20,000 times bigger.

    - Norm

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Nancy and I took a cruise shipfrom Ft Lauderdale to Grand Bahama years ago. On the trip out there was a private powerboat cabin cruiser type off our port beam I watched it for a while and realized that it was closing on a constant bearing. After about half an hour I could see detail on the boat but it maintained course and speed. A few minutes later the boat abruptly slowed and changed course and went under our stern. I could see his boot stripe quite clearly. The ship never made sound signal and I doubt that they were aware of the near collision as the point of impact would have been aft of midships.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    You suggest a 10 degree alteration of course. Would this not put the cruise ship right amongst the rest of the fleet? How long had batera been on that leg? If she had just rounded a mark & altered course then its a bit tough on the cruise ship to alter so quickly, they arent THAT manouverable.

    Its also pretty discourteous nav by the cruise ship..

    She isn't in a TSS or anything is she?
    Aloof..

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Its possible the cruise ship captain had his hand on the wheel and his foot on the brake the whole time. Maybe it only appeared that he wasnt paying attention. I wouldnt bet on it though.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Maybe they were "having a little fun" at the sailboats expense.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Another must-do is that the stand-on vessel continue to stand on. Many times the give-way vessel understands thoroughly their responsibility and opts to maintain cse/spd knowing that the stand-on vessel's bearing is changing and collision will not occur (though in this case I'm not so sure of that.)

    I have come to starboard in situations like shown, and had the stand-on vessel come left right under my bows (well you shouldn't come left either....)

    In case of collision, invariably both vessels will get some share of responsibility, even if it's only that a danger whistle was not blown, or the stand-on vessel failed to maneuver as the situation reached extremis. Both the sailboat and the ship look pretty stupid in the photo.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Davis View Post
    invariably both vessels will get some share of responsibility, even if it's only that a danger whistle was not blown, or the stand-on vessel failed to maneuver as the situation reached extremis. Both the sailboat and the ship look pretty stupid in the photo.

    The sailboat has no engine. Kind of hard to make evasive maneuvers. Doest appear to be much wind.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  22. #22
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Hmmm...

    Ship turns to strb. and that other boat is in danger.
    Ship turns to port and the photographers boat is in danger.
    Race boat stubbornly insists on right-of-way and they are in danger.

    Sailboat could easily have jibed away or headed up to avoid any close contact with the ship.
    Your first priority as skipper is to operate in a safe manner. Regardless of the actions of the cruise ship, or the COLREGS, that is gross negligence on the part of the sailboat skipper.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    A regatta must look pretty erratic seen from the bridge of a big ship that usually goes in a straight line regardless of wind. Did they inform the big ship of their intentions over the radio? Did the big ship bother to find out that there was going to be a regatta that day?

    The COLREGS require the use of all available aids to safe passage, this goes for both vessels.
    1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"

  24. #24
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    When you are driving a car do you take evasive action to avoid a squirrel? My brother once wrecked a car and put three people in the hospital to avoid a loose dog on the road.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by banjoman View Post
    Hmmm...

    Ship turns to strb. and that other boat is in danger.
    Ship turns to port and the photographers boat is in danger.
    Race boat stubbornly insists on right-of-way and they are in danger.
    Hmmm...

    Cruise ship throttles back a knot or two and the sailboat passes in front with plenty of room. Cruise ship then resumes previous speed. Everyone goes on with their business and nobody thinks twice about it.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  26. #26
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Doesn't it take next to forever for those things to slow down?
    Is there any way to know if they did slow down? Perhaps they did to avoid the collision?

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    A turn would be more effective than a crash stop. But either requires some planning, but all it takes is a quick radio call to whoever is running the regatta.
    1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by TimH View Post
    Hmmm...

    Cruise ship throttles back a knot or two and the sailboat passes in front with plenty of room. Cruise ship then resumes previous speed.
    What makes you think that's not what they did?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    I keep picturing the Monty Python scene where the peasant picks a fight with a noble, then screams "see the opression inherent in the system!" The best way to see a cruise ship or tanker is not from behind your shaking fist ten feet off the bow. As a powerboater, and I have to think I would agree as a sailor, those who stand on principle against the Law of Gross Tonnage bear a striking resemblance to the rabid bicyclist playing a game of chicken with a head-on semi truck in the bike lane.

    We'll try to say nice things about you at your funeral, while we all silently agree it was suicide...

  30. #30
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Ship turns to port and the photographers boat is in danger.
    That would be us.

    Actually, we did pass in front of the cruise ship just before the small boat. I made a comment to Sil to the effect that "this is as close as I ever want to see a ship's stem at sea," and normally I would have bore up and passed behind the ship, except that: a) that would have killed what little way we had in the light wind; b) I took port-and-starboard* eyeball bearings on the ship and realized that it was slowing down and that we would clear it by a good bit; and c) we were winning our class. .

    I agree that the batera's skipper should have tacked, as did the rest of the fleet. But I do so in the same sense that I agree that if you are walking down your street and see four thugs coming your way smoking a joint you should cross the street and avoid them. The cruise ship still behaved like a thug throwing his weight around, as more and more ships seem to do these days. He could and should not only have maneuvered to give the sailboats a wider berth, but he could at the very least have sounded his horn to declare his intentions to stand on. All it would have taken is a flick of a switch.

    As for not seeing the sailboat... maybe. But given that he was coming in to anchor in front of Búzios, which is a village harbor always full of small local craft going in and out, and that we are talking about a cruise ship that anchors there every few days all summer long... as Joe would say, 'nuff said.



    * Most sailors soon learn that when you take bearings on a big ship you need to do so at its stern, as doing so just at its bow may only ensure that you hit it amidships. But if it is coming straight at you and is close enough, you need to consider it's 20+ meter beam and take your bearings port-and-starboard, or you may end up closer to the sharp end than you wish.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: The Gross Tonnage Rule

    Ship turns to port and the photographers boat is in danger.
    That would be us.

    Actually, we did pass in front of the cruise ship just before the small boat. I made a comment to Sil to the effect that "this is as close as I ever want to see a ship's stem at sea," and normally I would have bore up and passed behind the ship, except that: a) that would have killed what little way we had in the light wind; b) I took port-and-starboard* eyeball bearings on the ship and realized that it was slowing down and that we would clear it by a good bit; and c) we were winning our class. .

    I agree that the batera's skipper should have tacked, as did the rest of the fleet. But I do so in the same sense that I agree that if you are walking down your street and see four thugs coming your way smoking a joint you should cross the street and avoid them. The cruise ship still behaved like a thug throwing his weight around, as more and more ships seem to do these days. He could and should not only have maneuvered to give the sailboats a wider berth, but he could at the very least have sounded his horn to declare his intentions to stand on. All it would have taken is a flick of a switch.

    As for not seeing the sailboat... maybe. But given that he was coming in to anchor in front of Búzios, which is a village harbor always full of small local craft going in and out, and that we are talking about a cruise ship that anchors there every few days all summer long... as Joe would say, 'nuff said.



    * Most sailors soon learn that when you take bearings on a big ship you need to do so at its stern, as doing so just at its bow may only ensure that you hit it amidships. But if it is coming straight at you and is close enough, you need to consider it's 20+ meter beam and take your bearings port-and-starboard, or you may end up closer to the sharp end than you wish.

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