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    Re: Rules of the Road While Backing
    From: Jonathon C McLendon
    Date: 1999 Feb 08, 11:47 EST

    Reply To: mclejc@XXX.XXX
    Organization: Alcatel Network Systems - ADSL Engineering
    From: mclejc@XXX.XXX (Jonathon C McLendon)
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    Hi all,
    I'd like to add a few clarifications to captainmike7's comments.
    I am also of the opinion that such a situation as described below
    is an overtaking situation.
    First, a minor point is that a crossing situation exists only between
    power driven vessels and only when a risk of collision exists.
    Second, note that the Rules are listed in order of importance, i.e.
    Rule 2 overrides Rule 13 which overrides Rule 34, etc.
    Third, I and others have looked at numerous texts trying to find
    a cite for the original poster's supposition. None of Chapmans,
    Farwell's "Rules of the Nautical Road" or Healy & Sweeny's "The Law
    of Marine Collision," et.al. discuss this subject, which presumably means
    that the actual situation rarely occurs (if ever) and has never been subject
    to significant litigation. I have also searched 33CFR and find nothing
    there of relevance.  I appreciate the cite and will pass it along
    to the folks in the CG with whom I have corresponded on this subject.
    With that being said, my comments are interspersed below:
    captainmike7@XXX.XXX wrote:
    >
    > At 11:13 2/6/99 -0800, Lu, Sandy & Katie Abel wrote in part:
    >
    > >I come down squarely on the side of the direction of travel determining a
    > >vessel's port and starboard (and stern) sides.
    >
    > I agree...when it's a vessel that routinely travels "backwards", like a
    > double-ended ferry.
    I don't believe that's it's the routineness of the travel that is the determining
    factor - I almost always begin every voyage by backing off the trailer 8-) .
    I ascribe the ability to switch bow and stern to one fact: the ferry is intentionally
    designed to normally travel in either direction, i.e. the propulsion machinery is
    bidirectional in nature, both ends are "pointy" and the ferry is equipped with
    navigation lights at both ends (and they can be switched so that one set operates
    and the other does not).
    But a vessel so equipped can both "operate astern propulsion" and can back down.
    Which end of the vessel is the bow is not immediately determined by the
    direction of travel, but by which end the master of the vessel has determined
    is the bow. In any case, as the next two paragraphs indicate, it really doesn't
    matter to any other power vessel as they are imperatively required to
    keep out of the way.
    > I would not extend the concept to include single-bowed
    > vessels while temporarily backing - the situation we are most likely to
    > encounter (I never saw the original thread...perhaps you never meant to
    > include this occurrence anyway).  In the "overtaking" situation to which I
    > referred, it doesn't matter which side is port or starboard.  The
    > overtaking rule takes precedence over other meeting/crossing rules and
    > makes no reference to direction of travel (for either vessel).
    Exactly correct. I might also add that the overtaking rule states that
    "When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking
    another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly"
    therefore, if one vessel has any doubt about which end of another vessel is
    the bow or stern or the direction of travel, then that vessel is an overtaking
    vessel and must keep out of the way.
    Rule 13 applies to all (sailing and power) vessels although
    it may be overridden by another (lower numbered) rule.
    >
    > >As Mike points out, double-ended ferries have a double set of navigation
    > >lights and illuminate the proper set for whatever direction they happen to
    > >be traveling in.  However, I don't agree with his logic that they do this
    > >because they have two sets of propulsion gear.  I've seen small
    > >double-ended ferries which don't.  Rather, I think they do this because
    > >their bow, stern, port, and starboard are determined by their direction of
    > >travel at the moment.
    Nope. If this were so, then no vessel would ever back down because there
    would be no such thing, after all, the bow would just became the stern
    and vice-versa. Indeed, if my vessel is drifting sideways, does that mean
    that the bow and stern are now amidships?  Were this the case, then who could
    ever tell which was the bow? Are our lights now to be mounted on swivels?
    A ferry with two sets of navigation lights cannot and does not simply switch
    the lights from one end to another when underway in order to turn the stern
    into the bow and vice-versa. Such an action would create havoc. And the captain
    would rightly lose his ticket should an incident occur because of this action.
    >
    > I never meant that the *reason* lights are switched is that the vessels
    > have two sets of propulsion gear...it was just an observation that such
    > double-ended vessels *generally* have two sets of propulsion gear (it being
    > much more efficient) and never operate "astern propulsion"...making them a
    > special case.
    But they certainly do operate astern propulsion and they certainly do back down.
    We have lots of these ferries in NC. And they give the three short blasts
    regularly in Silver Lake Harbor in Ocracoke, NC (although this statement
    is not intended as an argument of the correctness of the position). Note also
    that in NC, the ferry's bow is generally determined by the direction the cars
    are pointing.  Whether this is to facilitate unloading or to increase tourism,
    I don't know.
    >
    > >With respect to the question of the three whistle blasts:  Although a
    > >vessel backing out of a dock ought to sound a three-blast signal...
    >
    > A vessel leaving a dock or berth (forward, backward, or sideways) sounds
    > one prolonged blast.  The three-blast signal means nothing more than "I am
    > operating astern propulsion" and, under the Inland Rules (where most dock
    > departures occur) applies only to meeting or crossing situations.  There is
    > no requirement to signal 3 blasts while backing from a dock if there is not
    > a meeting or crossing vessel in sight (just as a vessel leaving a dock in a
    > *forward* direction does not sound one or two short blasts when no meeting
    > or crossing vessels are in sight).
    This is exactly correct. I note here that leaving a berth is also a "special
    circumstance" and there are particular requirements (given by the courts)
    as to when a vessel can leave a berth.
    >
    > >very few large vessels can really travel in reverse...
    >
    > The Rules apply to all power-driven vessels, not just the relatively tiny
    > population of "large" vessels.  I'll wager that most power-driven vessels
    > (especially the ones we are mostly likely to encounter in our everyday
    > boating lives - fishing vessels, workboats, pleasure-craft, CG cutters,
    > law-enforcement vessels, tugs, etc., etc. ) can, and do, travel in reverse
    > and move backwards quite soon after applying astern propulsion.
    >
    > >...the three-blasts warning is not "I'm going backwards."
    >
    > Agreed.  As stated several times previously, three blasts means nothing
    > more than "I am operating astern propulsion."
    >
    > >Rather the intent of Rule 34 is to provide a warning to other vessels that
    > a vessel >in normal forward motion is slowing or stopping by operating its
    > engines in >reverse
    >
    > Though, again, the Rules apply to all motor-driven vessels...including the
    > majority that begin to move backwards shortly after engines are reversed.
    Well, the rules apply to all vessels on the navigable waters of the United States.
    NC has some interesting exceptions within state waters.
    >
    > If there is any conclusion to be drawn from all this, it is that it's
    > difficult to write the Rules to cover all occurrences.  Confusion will
    > result when  circumstances occur that were unforeseen by the writers, or
    > when the vessels involved don't follow the rules.  In anticipation, the
    > rule-makers required that the stand-on vessel ultimately take necessary
    > action to best avoid collision.
    Indeed, this is the one manuvering rule that applies above all else.
    >
    > At the end of the day, the idea is to stay the #@%$& out of the way of
    > other vessels - especially the ones bigger than you!
    >
    >
    > P/Lt/C Michael A. LeButt, FC
    > Balboa (Newport Beach, CA) Squadron
    >
    > "A ship in harbor is safe,
    >   but that's not what ships are for..."
    I think the substance of the original poster's argument was that he/she believed that
    they had found a circumstance that led to a rule being non-sensible (vessels that
    travel in both directions). This then required them to construct an interpretation
    such that the rule would be consistent and sensible. However, the correct interpretation
    is that the interpretation of that particular rule doesn't matter because in that
    circumstance, the particular rule is overidden by another rule.
    P/C John McLendon, JN
    Raleigh (NC) Power Squadron
    <PRE>
    --
    John McLendon - V:919.850.5367 F:919.850.6670
    Alcatel Network Systems 		    mclejc@
    2912 Wake Forest Rd. Raleigh, NC 27609	aur.alcatel.com
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