Reversing Collisions

smashWe have all watched internet videos of two objects approaching each other in slow motion ahead of the anticipated collision.

This past weekend, Brenda and I were aboard Windy the other side of the harbour and witnessed a large boat back out of his slip right in the path of an approaching boat in the fairway.

Everything was right for one to smash into the other.

The Captain backing out of his slip couldn’t see down the fairway because his vision was blocked by all the vertical  canvas on the two boats beside him. The Captain of the boat in the fairway was distracted as he was busy turning on his electronics and his First Mate was raising fenders.

Fortunately for these two yacht captains, there was an observant third party within ear shot, who yelled loudly and caught their attention. Both instantly took evasive action and were able to avoid the collision. (Unlike cars in a parking lot, boaters don’t use horns in this situation and there wasn’t time for the observer to run to his helm anyway.)

Here are a couple of tips to reversing collisions in the harbour:

* When reye guy looking afteversing out of your slip, or pulling away from a dock look before you leave the dock.

If your vision is blocked, ask your First Mate or a crew member to go to the transom, then ask “Is the fairway clear?”

eye guy forward* When idling along the fairway, headed either for your slip or for the harbor exit, be prepared to stop or take evasive action if a boat is backing out of his slip into your path.

Don’t be distracted.

As when passing a row of parked vehicles on the side of a street or in a parking lot, you watch for telltale signs of movement, like tail lights, doors opening, rolling tires, etc. Similarly, anticipate a potential problem by watching for a boat moving out of sync with all the other boats tied in that row of slips. Be prepared for a kayak or dinghy to dart into the fairway.

As the old saying goes, “A collision at sea can ruin your whole day”. Sometimes, collisions jump out of a slip at you, right in your very own harbor.

Keep an eye out and be prepared!

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