Get Past Obstructions With Rule 19
Get Past Obstructions With Rule 19
|Lou can choose to pass the anchored boat on either side, and as the boats pass it the outside boat must give the inside boat room between herself and it.|
I am frequently asked how a continuing obstruction differs from a "non-continuing" obstruction. A continuing obstruction is one that takes a considerable amount of time for boats to pass, either because of its size or because of adverse current. It is clear from reading cases and appeals that when boats hug a shoreline in an effort to avoid adverse current, that shoreline is definitely a continuing obstruction. My opinion is that, if it takes you more than about a minute to pass an obstruction, a protest committee will likely consider it a continuing obstruction.
Sometimes, while two fast boats are passing a slower leeward boat on the same tack, it can take them more than a minute to get by her. That leeward boat is an obstruction because both of the boats passing her are windward boats that are required by Rule 11 to keep clear of her. In past years there was debate as to whether or not the leeward boat was a continuing obstruction or merely an obstruction. That debate is now over because this year a new sentence in the definition of obstruction states, "A vessel under way, including a racing boat, is never a continuing obstruction."
|Susan can choose to pass the anchored boat on either side, and as the boats pass it the outside boat must give the inside boat room between herself and it. If the boats leave the anchored boat to starboard, Paul may have to bear off to a slower course.|
Old Rule 18 applied at both obstructions and marks and the terms overlap, clear ahead and clear astern did not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless old Rule 18 applied. Now we have new Rule 19 for obstructions and, to make it apply in situations like the one shown in the second diagram, the definition Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap now states, "These terms . . . do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless Rule 18 applies or both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind." Therefore, in the second diagram, because Paul and Susan are sailing below a beam reach and neither is clear astern of the other, they are overlapped.
Keep those changes in the definitions in mind while I discuss how new Rule 19 works. Rule 19.1 tells you that the rule applies at obstructions. Some obstructions are also marks that boats must leave on a required side. If a non-continuing obstruction is such a mark, then Rule 18 applies and Rule 19 does not. On some rare occasions a continuing obstruction is a mark. In my experience that only occurs when an island is a mark, as in the Round the Isle of Wight Race in England. In such a case, Rule 19 applies at the island and Rule 18 does not. That is the only time that Rule 18 does not apply at a mark.
At non-continuing obstructions, such as the anchored boat in the first two diagrams, only Rules 19.2(a) and (b) apply, and they are remarkably short and simple. In the first diagram Lou and Wendy are overlapped running on starboard-tack directly towards an obstruction. Suppose Wendy hails for room to leave the obstruction on her starboard side and, at the same time, Lou hails for room to leave it on his port side. Rule 19.2(a) answers the question, "Who gets the room?" Because Lou has right of way as the leeward boat, he may choose which side he wishes to go. If the same question came up in the situation in the second diagram, Susan, who has right of way as the starboard-tack boat, could choose which side she wished to go. If the right-of-way boat chooses to leave the obstruction on her windward side, the other boat is then free to leave it on either side.
If the boats do, in the end, leave the obstruction on the same side, and if they are overlapped while they pass it, then Rule 19.2(b) applies. It requires the outside boat give the inside boat "room between her and the obstruction." Note that this is a much simpler rule than Rule 18. The boats need not worry about a zone around the obstruction. The inside boat's right to room is never locked in as the right to mark-room often is at a mark (see Rule 18.2(b)). Rule 19 contains no special exoneration rule like Rule 18.5 in Rule 18 and Rule 20.2 in Rule 20, and it contains no special rules for tacking or jibing near obstructions (like Rules 18.3 and 18.4 for marks).
The inside boat can establish her overlap at any time, even while the boats are passing the obstruction. The only limitation on establishing an overlap is this: the outside boat is not required to give the inside boat room if the outside boat "has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began."