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Tacking under sail out of Chichester

Ningaloo

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Gentle southerly wind yesterday lunchtime, Tide slightly against me but nothing better to do and the day was perfect for sailing so I sailed out of Chichester Harbour.
It's pretty narrow, especially with 2m draft so I had to make several tacks but I made reasonable headway and reached the Bar Beacon 45 minutes or so after leaving my anchorage at Pilsea.
Am I wrong to expect vessels under motor to give way to me in these conditions? What about when making a tack? I was astonished how many boats (sail and motor) didn't seem to anticipate that I was going to need to tack and did not adjust their course or speed to make allowances for this. Everyone did give way, but often left it too late to do anything other than slow significantly when an earlier course correction would have allowed them to proceed without decreasing speed. Obviously I wasn't showing signals to indicate that I was constrained by draft but it should have been pretty obvious that I would need to turn when 30m from the beach.
With apologies to anyone I got in the way of ;-)
 

prv

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It sort of depends what you mean by "expect".

In the moral sense - should they keep clear of you - I think the answer's a clear "yes". Certainly I would cheerfully do so if I was there and under power.

In the practical sense - will they keep clear of you? Unfortunately you do have to allow for the hard-of-thinking...

Pete
 

rotrax

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As a frequent visitor I would certainly not consider sailing in or out at busy times.

Of course it is possible and gives great satisfaction, but having witnessed several situations around the entrance when lots of craft were coming or going I would get well clear before lowering the Iron Jib.

Others, of course, might take a different view.
 

Rappey

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In a busy confined harbour entrance channel i think it would be fair to all to motor sail with the flow . If not many boats around then it's good to use skills in a confined area.
I find the submarine barrier mid gap sometimes a little challenging with full tidal flow when under sail. It's the speed you get swept sideways towards the barrier whilst other vessels block your path.
I totally agree many boats seem clueless to anticipating what other boats may be doing and why.
 

ip485

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Loads of yachts sail in and out and carry their sails way up the estuary.

I think the correct answer depends on just how busy it is. Tacking in the entrance is probably a little unsocial if there is a lot of traffic moving in and out. Reaching or running I would suggest not an issue.

You are correct most motor boats will not be expecting you to tack, and hence when it is busy my comment about it perhaps being less than social.

I think actually having to tack coming in or out is also not a common occurence for the wind to be in either direction.
 

bedouin

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Even for an experienced sailor who knows the water it is still very hard to predict when another skipper is going to tack - they don't know your draft or the depth of water. It is virtually impossible in as narrow an entrance as that to take avoiding action before you tack - especially if there are other boats around too.

You share responsibility not to cause a close quarters situation and it is at least bad form, if not in breach of the rules, to tack at such a point where you immediately force another boat to take avoiding action. Don't forget that you are also required not to impede vessels navigating the the channel yourself so it is over-simplistic to say everyone else should get out of your way
 

johnalison

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It is the easiest thing in the world to work out when a sailing boat is going to tack. When I were a lad, we often went on the Norfolk Broads, usually with a 36ft motor boat and one or two sailing boats. Driving (possibly the best word) the motor boat along the narrow rivers, one took pride in passing sailing boats without disturbing them. I was aged about 12 at the time. You observe the sailing boat and work out where it would be compelled to change course, and endeavoured to slip past their stern. I have only been to Chichester a few times, but there is much more water there. A motor boat is required by both the collision regulations and common decency to avoid inconveniencing sailing boats. If this means that they have to hang back for a few seconds, that is their problem. A sailing boat maintaining its proper course is under no obligation to go out of its way because the boat wishing to pass cannot work things out for itself.
 

TernVI

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It is the easiest thing in the world to work out when a sailing boat is going to tack. When I were a lad, we often went on the Norfolk Broads, usually with a 36ft motor boat and one or two sailing boats. Driving (possibly the best word) the motor boat along the narrow rivers, one took pride in passing sailing boats without disturbing them. I was aged about 12 at the time. You observe the sailing boat and work out where it would be compelled to change course, and endeavoured to slip past their stern. I have only been to Chichester a few times, but there is much more water there. A motor boat is required by both the collision regulations and common decency to avoid inconveniencing sailing boats. If this means that they have to hang back for a few seconds, that is their problem. A sailing boat maintaining its proper course is under no obligation to go out of its way because the boat wishing to pass cannot work things out for itself.
In Chichester entrance, there is much less water than there appears to be. The edge of the channel is not well defined, so predicting where another boat will tack is anything but trivial. You might know exactly how far the sailing boat could go to tack with half a metre clearance, they might tack much sooner or push on past that point.
A little bit of consideration of the other users goes a long way. Timing your tacks to avoid conflict, maybe waving some of the mobo's past, maybe tacking slowly to give them a chance, it all makes for a quiet life.
 

Wansworth

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Given the times we live in and good percentage of proper sailers about especially in motor boats a rational choice would have been to motor out,knowing that if needs be you could sail but chose to take a sensible course,besides gives time to run the engine properly ,charge up the batteries and general check all ship shape ready for sea.
 

TernVI

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Given the times we live in and good percentage of proper sailers about especially in motor boats a rational choice would have been to motor out,knowing that if needs be you could sail but chose to take a sensible course,besides gives time to run the engine properly ,charge up the batteries and general check all ship shape ready for sea.
Maybe just buying a motorboat would be a rational choice?
It can easily be an hour from your mooring to the bar beacon. If you're only out for the afternoon, motoring the first and last hour wouldn't be my choice.
 

ashtead

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Seems to me that it might be inviting trouble. If not able to make way without assistance from sails would seem fine as is seen sometimes by small yachts entering Portsmouth then that’s acceptable if a nuisance for the harbour patrol but if an entrance is crowded why place yourself and others at risk if you have a functioning engine and also risk a call out for the local rescue team etc. It seems to me much like sailing as stand on vessel into a fleet of racing boats -you can do it but much safer to go round if you see a sun sail fleet approaching as you don’t know their competence . By all means keep the main up and motor sail in but I think I would just give a little more consideration to others. You only need a gust for another yacht to head up and with constrained draft an incident might occur. I have seen little keelboats doing thisbut they have no choice but if you want to sail in perhaps choose the winter months or midweek ?
 

Wansworth

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Maybe just buying a motorboat would be a rational choice?
It can easily be an hour from your mooring to the bar beacon. If you're only out for the afternoon, motoring the first and last hour wouldn't be my choice.
Well you can sail most of the way it’s just the last narrow bit,and it’s only when you have to tack with the wind free by all means sail☺..........or roll the jib away hoist your motoring cone and motor sail!
 

RJJ

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It is the easiest thing in the world to work out when a sailing boat is going to tack. When I were a lad, we often went on the Norfolk Broads, usually with a 36ft motor boat and one or two sailing boats. Driving (possibly the best word) the motor boat along the narrow rivers, one took pride in passing sailing boats without disturbing them. I was aged about 12 at the time. You observe the sailing boat and work out where it would be compelled to change course, and endeavoured to slip past their stern. I have only been to Chichester a few times, but there is much more water there. A motor boat is required by both the collision regulations and common decency to avoid inconveniencing sailing boats. If this means that they have to hang back for a few seconds, that is their problem. A sailing boat maintaining its proper course is under no obligation to go out of its way because the boat wishing to pass cannot work things out for itself.
I don't agree it's easy to know when a sailing vessel needs to alter course. You don't know the vessel, you don't know the skipper. Even if you know when she'll tack, you don't know exactly what course / speed the skipper will take as he accelerates on the new tack.

More importantly, to predict the necessary tacking points for a yacht, you would have to have done some diligence on the charted depths and tidal curves at any and every given part of the channel. It sounds as though you put an unfair onus on other vessels to think ahead for you. It is reasonable and sufficient for local and visiting skippers to note the channel markers and no more than that.

As in racing (except for "water" calls when close-hauled), there is no requirement under COLREGS for others to anticipate your actions. By tacking out on a busy day, you are creating a probable need for them to do so. There is no guidance around this, so the clarity of COLREGS is gone, so there is risk of confusion.

I have sailed in and out of Chichester in yachts, dinghies and windsurfers for thirty years or so. I would definitely sail through the channel on a reach or run. I definitely would only tack through it if traffic was minimal.
 

Stemar

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I don't agree it's easy to know when a sailing vessel needs to alter course. You don't know the vessel, you don't know the skipper. Even if you know when she'll tack, you don't know exactly what course / speed the skipper will take as he accelerates on the new tack.
I agree. I might know when I'd be tacking on my boat, and have an idea when I'd do it on that boat, but I've no idea if the helm's a first time charterer on his first visit, or the bloke who drew the latest chart with the skills of Ben Ainslie.

Sure, I'll sail if the wind's in the right direction, but I wouldn't tack in or out unless there's little or no other traffic. Colregs may say it's OK, but simple consideration suggests that being able to keep a steady course is a good idea when it's busy.

As for sailing into Portsmouth, I had to do that once. Don't ever want to do it again.
 

bedouin

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It is the easiest thing in the world to work out when a sailing boat is going to tack. When I were a lad, we often went on the Norfolk Broads, usually with a 36ft motor boat and one or two sailing boats. Driving (possibly the best word) the motor boat along the narrow rivers, one took pride in passing sailing boats without disturbing them. I was aged about 12 at the time. You observe the sailing boat and work out where it would be compelled to change course, and endeavoured to slip past their stern. I have only been to Chichester a few times, but there is much more water there. A motor boat is required by both the collision regulations and common decency to avoid inconveniencing sailing boats. If this means that they have to hang back for a few seconds, that is their problem. A sailing boat maintaining its proper course is under no obligation to go out of its way because the boat wishing to pass cannot work things out for itself.
Presumably you agree that the sailing boat is required not to impede the safe passage of any boats in the channel. And that requires to give them plenty of room to manoeuvre. Tacking in such a way as to force them to change course immediately is a clear breach of that.

When the sailing boat is settled on a tack then a motor boat will be give way vessel and should give room but the sailing vessel is required to plan their tacks in such a way that tacking does not bring them into immediate conflict with another vessel.
 

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

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The entrance channel to Chichester is narrow and the deep channel is very close to shore; the channel is very busy and as such it is an unreasonable expectation to assume people will be willing to give way to sail at all time, unless the sailboat does not have an engine. I used to keep my boat in Chichester and I always tried to give way to those to insisted to sail in and out but some were too selfish.
 

johnalison

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Presumably you agree that the sailing boat is required not to impede the safe passage of any boats in the channel. And that requires to give them plenty of room to manoeuvre. Tacking in such a way as to force them to change course immediately is a clear breach of that.

When the sailing boat is settled on a tack then a motor boat will be give way vessel and should give room but the sailing vessel is required to plan their tacks in such a way that tacking does not bring them into immediate conflict with another vessel.
I don't know where in the regulations it is stated that a sailing vessel has to adjust its course to give way to other craft. If there is such a statement, I would like to know. There may be local rules requiring boats to motor, as at Portsmouth, but otherwise I presume that it is the collision regulations that govern. I deliberately overstated my case in order to give support to the OP who felt himself harassed when going about his lawful business. It is a situation I often find myself in when under power and wishing to pass sailing dinghies, usually, in narrow channels. In these situations I am always aware that it is my obligation to keep clear.

By way of light relief, I recall a passage on the Broads when we had a 4-berth sailing boat and were tacking up Meadow Dyke, which is about as wide as two boat lengths. With the help of a quant pole and mop, we made good progress and built up a satisfying line of motor boats astern. Eventually, I took pity on them and nudged our boats bow into some reeds on the weather shore and waved them through. As one of them went past, they called out to us "What a pity. We thought you were doing so well up til then".
 
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