Big Boats vs. Small Boats; Not a Fair Comparison
The Coast Guard Auxiliary wants the boating public to understand
that consequences of interfering with a large ship in many of our
narrow channels, especially in our busy port cities, such as New
York City, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Every day, hundreds to thousands of ships larger than 65 feet
in length, enter and depart our busy ports. These vessels include
tankers, cruise ships, container ships and tug-barge combinations.
All these vessels are constrained by their draft; and are unable
to maneuver in the narrow range inside the narrow channels in and
around our ports and harbors.
The "Rules of the Road", the federal navigation rules provide
for this event by giving these ships priority, or right-of-way,
over smaller vessels when navigating in these narrow channels.
Many recreational boaters fail to realize the physics involved
in stopping or maneuvering a large ship. The average recreational
boat stops within a couple of boat lengths, even if they are traveling
at maximum speed. However, it can take a large ship thousands of
yards to stop.
An example would be if a water skier stopped 1,000 feet in front
of a tug and barge. The skier would have less than one minute to
get out of the way of the tug and barge, otherwise the skier would
be run over.
In the Port of New York and New Jersey, Capt. Glenn Wiltshire,
the Captain of the Port and the Commanding Officer of Sector New
York said, "While I want all boaters to enjoy the waterways in our
area, recent increases in reports of commercial vessels having to
take evasive actions to avoid small boats in the channel are of
great concern to me. I ask that all boaters be aware of their position
and remain outside the main channels to ensure the continued safety
of all waterway users. We don't want to wait for a tragedy to occur."
The local boating public should be aware of the penalty provisions
within U.S. Code, Title 33, Section 2072, that specify "Whoever
operates a vessel in violation of the navigation rules is liable
to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each violation, for
which penalty the vessel may be seized and the case shall be brought
before the district court of the United States of any district within
which the vessel may be found."
Mariners interested in increasing their knowledge of boating
safety, including the Rules of the Road, should consider a Coast
Guard Auxiliary boating safety course. Course information is available
www.uscgboating.org or by calling