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  • Writer's pictureCaptain Dave

Mind the colregs

Most of us have experienced the architectural greatness of the roundabout. Take a moment, close your eyes. You are in your car (it is a nice, clean car; you just had it washed), and you are putzing along on your merry way. Suddenly, four roads converge at one location, each pathway’s travelers seeking onwards towards their destinations. What to do? If everyone continued without regard for others, there would be utter chaos. Catastrophe. Perhaps even the eventual end to civilization as we know it.

However, not today. Today, you enter the roundabout, gently transition to the inner lane, and transition outwards upon reaching your exit. Your fellow roundabout inhabitants follow the same intangible yet vital laws of etiquette, and just as soon as chaos threatened, it was gone.

And while it is no secret that design is key to the roundabout’s success, it would be nothing without etiquette. Everyone learns them, the rules that govern our society. Heck, we even have complex systems of bureaucratic ticketing and giant concrete buildings built to house people who do not follow the rules. How many times have you heard “Ah, I got a ticket this morning because I passed illegally on the highway,” or “I remember my first speeding ticket.”

You know what you will not hear? “I got a ticket today on the boat.”

Bear with me here. I cannot count the number of times I have marveled at the chutzpah paddle boarders have, as they boorishly paddle directly into the path of much larger powerboats. Here is the end to that story: the powerboat wins. Last weekend, as I ferried vacationers and boat owners to and from their vessels, another boater who was proceeding illegally shouted “I have the right-of-way!” and then cited a rule that—while it does indeed exist—did not apply to his situation at all. Face-palm.

I mean, do not get me wrong, car crashes can be expensive, but I see some people on their million-dollar yachts blatantly ignorant of right-of-way etiquette. Can you imagine watching a Lamborghini drive carelessly into oncoming traffic? Yeah, did not think so.

You might roll your eyes, but knowing the right of way on the water can be lifesaving or at the very least boat saving. It is not just the difference between port and starboard. There are many situations when understanding right of way on waterways is key. Heck, even as an experienced boater, I still mess up sometimes!

So why do not we place more emphasis on learning the rules? Well, in the olden days, before iPhone and Android apps, learning the rules was a drag. BUT NOT ANYMORE! Now, there are all kinds of cell phone apps and websites you can use to learn the ways of the water. So, what are you waiting for? Be a better boats(wo)man today!


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