Powerboats: will they see us in time?

If they didn’t see a J102, will they see paddlers?

Story at http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/for_the_record/ac-cn-boat-collision-20180817-story.html

But really, if driver can’t see a 32’ sailboat with the sails up, it must be a really compelling text message.

Unbelievable. A J/105 is 35-feet long; mast is 50 feet tall. How could it not be seen under full sail? There were seven people on board the power boat.

J/105 base price is $164K. Hope the charter operator has good liability insurance.

Everything’s ok. They have life jackets on.

Aw… it will buff out!! Yeah right!
This was talked about on the sailing forum I vist a couple of days ago. The problem with power boats is some of the people driving them. Just like on the road. The sailboat saw them coming, and sound the horn. They would have right of way, but still the first rule is avoid collision.

They will not always see you.
I had a sailboat hit by a powerboat and I had right of way…
I was trapezed out on a single handed cat and the powerboat came in from my blind side.
My PFD saved me as I was injured , semi conscious and in the water… Really…
So best to WEAR your PFD in high traffic areas… My PFD was incorporated into my trapeze harness I was wearing.

My girlfriend was going to meet me after she got off work at the hospital.
Instead I ended up meeting her at her hospital…

Where is that RPG when you need it?

Funny, Sparky. But, I bet they didn’t put on the life jackets until after they mounted the J105. While they awaited the marine police or CG, somebody probably thought life jackets might be a good idea.

This happened in waters where I paddle. When I’m out there paddling, I make every effort to stay out of the way of any boat, power or sail. But a kayak can only move out of the way so fast. Pretty miraculous nobody on either boat was hurt.


They have to be looking in order to see you… We were in a sailboat that was missed by a pair of crusiers by about ten feet. We were becalmed
The owners had the boats on auto pilot and were sitting on the aft deck drinking.

Hard to see how that charter boat operator will keep his license, or why he should.

Chesapeake Bay location says a lot. There are places where there are lots of unusually unskilled operators in the summer. Not that this stuff doesn’t occur elsewhere - once in over 20 years someone in a rented boat managed to run it up onto the rocks where I rent. But the colder water in Maine above Portland seems to decrease its attractiveness to fools like this. And the rocks and lobster pots help to cull out the true fools. At least until global warming makes it all like New Jersey…

Many years ago while planning my first Chesapeake bay crossing of any significance in my kayak( Kent Narrows to Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge) I asked a sailing friend about what I might expect in those waters. One thing that stuck with me was his warning about power boats. He mentioned some of them will set the vessel on cruise control (I had no idea this feature was on boats) and go below deck to do something. That heightened my sensitivity for looking for vessels that appeared to be on a collision course bearing.

Amazing no one was hurt in this crash.

Good friend Grayhawk used to say when there was a bunch of us crossing a major channel"
Everyone bunch up together it makes a better target for the power boaters

The problem, IMO, is that there are many “boaters” who are not actually into operating the boat. The array of fishing poles is telling. I think I can make a safe guess about what was on their minds, and it was most definitely not “operating the boat”. In my area, that often involves things other than fishing, but it is the same problem.

The question I would have though, and I bet (or hope) the authorities are looking into, is - did the sailboat crew do everything in their power to avoid the collision? At the time the photo was taken, it would appear that there was sufficient wind to maneuver the craft. There should have been some awareness of a potential collision and adjustment to course to avoid such. The photo may be misleading, and I admit assumption on my part - but it makes me suspect that there will be blame assigned to both crews.

And the point of all the above, is that we should never forget that we are all personally responsible to be watchful and make effort to avoid collisions. As demonstrated by this photo, we can never assume that we will be seen and avoided.

#1 they need to see you. #2 they need to know what to do…which could require boat handling skills and experience. #3 they need to WANT to do the right thing. Sure our lack of visibility creates danger but in my experience it is naiive or occasionally malicious power boaters that worry me. But just to be on the safe side I do not take my canoes offshore on Lake Michigan since I do not want to share the water with cigarette boats!

Sorry for the giant text

According to reports subsequent, the sailboat crew attempted to contact the power boat. A passenger on the “Hunter” (powerboat) reported the radio was not turned on until after impact (when they probably donned those life jackets as well).

Sailboat speed was around 6 kts and crew claims it tried to take evasive action. Powerboat was traveling around 25 kts, Am guessing that even if the J/105 crew shot flares at the oncoming, they would not have been seen unless one landed on a passenger.

Maybe the USCG will make its findings public.

A reminder to ocean paddlers. You do not have the right of way over commercial vessels engaged at work. Everyone must take due diligence to avoid a collision.

At least once in a while we hear of kayakers getting in the way of lobstering operations. Boats are manned often by one and while tending pots and circling to the next pot ( its clockwise) they are not always aware what goes on on the port side. It is prudent to note the colors of the buoy on top of the lobster boat and then stay away from the corresponding colored buoys in the water.

It goes without saying that kayakers should stay out of marked channels and when crossing is necessary do so as quickly as possible all in a line side by side.

When you say, “stay out of marked channels”, what exactly do you designate as a marked channel? Do you include ranges, or just red and green buoy marked channels. Where I paddle, I go wherever I want–as do all the other water craft–except for ships, some very large yachts and tugs with barges.

If I had to stay out of channels and only cross them in a panic, it would be very restrictive. Naturally, I watch for ships, etc., and give them plenty of room, but much of my paddling is right smack in the channels. Sometimes there is no choice as jetties and other obstructions get in the way. I don’t worry about ships as much as large motor yachts and once in awhile a fishing boat that’s doing about 60 mph with no one paying attention. It keeps you on your toes and it is amazing how fast my kayak can move when the on coming boat seems to have a bead on me.

It seems clear enough to me that Kim is simply stating that if you can get where you are going by paddling primarily outside of marked navigation channels, then you ought to. And how the advice about crossing a channel in a quick and safe manner is construed as a case of “panic” escapes me, but whatever. I think her advice would apply most places (I can tell you that it’s perfect advice for parts of the Mississippi River near here, as one example), and for those places where it does not apply, I don’t see the need to try to assume it should. But that’s just my way of thinking in cases like this - not applying meaning beyond that intended.

What kayakmedic describes is how I paddle on the ocean, on local rivers as well because of the commercial traffic, as does anyone else I have ever paddled with who plans on living for awhile. We do have some errant behavior at times in the evening paddle group, which is why Iike using my faster boat for that. Makes it easier to skooch out to the channel and get people back in.

Crossing a channel efficiently is a simple matter of courtesy. You are in other boats’ way while you are there. This is normal practice for paddling on bigger water. And there is no way to argue that a kayak needs the draft of a working boat.

Yes, there are places where the channels get narrow, and it is not exactly easy to stay out of motor boats’ way. For example the south end of South Monomoy island at low tide, the entrance and exit areas to small harbors in Maine like Bristol and one end of Friendship. The end of the rock jetties on the New Jersey shore where they are near a harbor entrance can also get pretty crowded. So I move efficiently and quickly when it is open, and will sit and wait if needed to find that moment. I don’t need to stand my ground with a lobster boat coming in on autopilot.

Out in really open water this gets pretty easy, because there is a lot more water surface outside of any channels than in them. So getting thru the channels is not a major part of the paddle.