Which Way Should I Go? COLREGS will tell you…..if you follow them

How many times have we had the thought, “If I cheat the course just a few degrees to port, this guy will come down the starboard side with a decent CPA…..?”  The problem with that chain of thought is twofold.  First, simply by having that thought, you have confirmed that risk of collision exists in your mind or the mind of the person designating that CPA.  And, as the posters below illustrate, COLREGS Rule 14 states that both vessels should alter course to starboard and pass port to port.  Second, the vessel slightly on your starboard bow may not be of the same thought, implement Rule 14 as it is written and now everyone is having a bad day.

The insurance companies (protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs) have a lot at stake in these situations – a lot of money that is.  That’s probably the main reason so much effort goes into Loss Prevention and in this case, preventing things that go bump (or crash, crumple and sink) in the night.  The posters below come from but two of the many P&I clubs out there.  A check of their Loss Prevention sections on the internet reveals many sources of products you can use for safety and training on YOUR vessel.  Check out the “Links” section of Madden Maritime for a good selection of P&I Clubs that we find useful.

COLREGS are there for a reason.  Like so many regulations in the shipping industry, they have their foundations in disaster and tragedy.  It’s easy to say that everyone follows them, but sadly, there are frequent collisions, lost lives and lost careers when they are disregarded.  Perhaps even by someone thinking, “If I cheat the course just a few degrees to port, this guy will come down the starboard side with a decent CPA…..” 

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NORTH - Colregs Rule 14

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