The video of the collision between Nap Tyme and the Chetzemoka ferry was pretty jarring. We have plied the Puget Sound waters for decades at 6-7.5 knots and have always given the ferries and freighters wide berth. AIS has been great help because the ships come along at 11-13 knots and can close the crossings very quickly. The Chetzemoka docks next to the opening to the large Tacoma Yacht club marina and crosses a very busy channel. I think the crew was so used to seeing boats yield to them, that they could not wrap their mind around the fact this one wasn’t going to until it was too late to avoid the collision. You see what you expect to see.
Rich Hurst Monk 36, Feisty II Tacoma, Washington
I was intrigued by your article and references to the USCG Navigation Rules & Regulations Handbook so much so that I downloaded it for free and started reading it myself.
I have been boating for many years but still consider myself undereducated, which, after seeing so many near misses on the water, have come to the conclusion most people on the water are “in the same boat”.
Being that the larger of the two boats was a ferry, transferring persons and vehicles while underway, Rule #3 - General Definitions (g, part iii, in particular) states:
(g) The term vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. The term vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver shall include but not be limited to:
(i) a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline;
(ii) a vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or underwater operations;
(iii) a vessel engaged in replenishment or transferring persons, provisions or cargo while underway;
(iv) a vessel engaged in the launching or recovery of aircraft;
(v) a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations;
(vi) a vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course.
Personally, I put the most all of the blame on the smaller boat. A 273-foot vessel is definitely a “vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver.”
Furthermore, I had no idea commercial vessels monitor Channel 13.
Thank you for this article. I hope many others start reading the Handbook and start following the rules. John F Koehler Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Dear John, I’m glad to see you reading through the USCG Rules and Regulations handbook. It might not be the most entertaining read but it is an important one. I think you are right that many boaters aren’t as educated as they should be on the rules; here is to hoping your leadership helps others towards a fresh read. As to your interpretation of Rule #3, the language there is a little confusing. The rule actually refers to the transfer of persons, provisions, or cargo between two ships while underway. The best example I can think of is the resupply of naval vessels by supply ships.—BKL