A Follow Up
I came across a serious article by favorite author Tom Neale recently, posted here on the BoatUS Cruising Logs. In it, he summarizes a typical event in a narrow channel; one that I come across fairly often on my short jaunts from the CT River to the LI Sound.
Tom summarizes the design of the rules-of-the-road like this:
Those who wrote the rules take due note that being on the water in boats is an exercise in variables and doing the right thing involves skills and judgment calls that you can only get from experience.
One thing is for sure - boating IS an exercise in variables. In his Tip's section, Tom writes:
Often those people who truly don't know better (even though they should), do want to learn, and will, if you can communicate with them in a friendly manner, be most appreciative of constructive help or advice.
Anyone in a serious boating community knows that boaters are a helpful bunch, and not just with tying lines on a dock. Oftentimes boaters come to assist others in a variety of ways: to give advice, to help someone in need or in emergency, or to give some plain old fashioned encouragement.
Quick Tip! Click here for Rules of the Road.
The biggest faux pas made by the subject of Tom's article was not that he lacked experience, per se - I would posit that what he lacked was two very important facets that all boaters must have on them at all times:
1. The understanding that boating is an exercise in variables, and one must remain vigilant AT ALL TIMES regardless of the extenuating circumstances or environment.
2. The willingness to take cues from boats and boaters around them who are ready to assist and create a lead to follow.
Tom was there, experienced, in his boat right in front of his subject, and ready to assist. It was the subject's lack of vigilance and lack of respect for other boaters that led to the problem at hand.
So remember - if you're an inexperienced boater or an old salt, remain vigilant and keep watch on your peers. You never know what you might learn (or learn to avoid)!