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TOPIC: When can a boat behind 'poke their nose in' to the

When can a boat behind 'poke their nose in' to the 1 year 2 months ago #130

  • Bill Brockbank
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  • Solo 4287
Although not germane to case 10 this was, by some margin, the most common 'what-if' question (and core misunderstanding) afterwards. Here's a summary.

What sailors believe:-
You can't poke your nose in unless there's a clear passage you could sail through without affecting either boat.

What the rules say:-
While all the boats involved are outside the zone...
The colloquial interpretation above is broadly true if the gap is between a boat and a continuing obstruction like the shore. RRS19.2(c) applies. With this nuance... The gap need only have been clear at the moment of overlap. If a jetty sticks out further down the course requiring both boats change course around it and they do so, no rule was broken. As a principle rules apply instant by instant - there's no requirement to anticipate beyond the current manoeuvre.

The colloquial (and generally understood) interpretation is never true when sailing into a gap between boats, because a boat can only be an obstruction, not a continuing obstruction. RRS Definitions: Obstruction.
Imagine you are the boat wanting to poke their nose in.
The rule which covers this, RRS19.2(b) allows you into a much smaller gap. You don't need to have a clear path though and after you establish the overlap half the requirement to keep clear transfers from you to the windward boat. The other half stays with you, you must keep clear of the leeward boat.
How much smaller a gap? A lot smaller, but it's not a fixed distance, it's a series of obligations on you. If converging slowly on 2 centre sheeted boats (so the mainsheet doesn't obstruct your initial overlap) who are roughly level with each other you might get into a gap half a boat wide. In the process you must have kept clear of the leeward boat, and that obligation continues. You must also be far enough from the windward boat that they can keep clear of you by altering course (if necessary) starting just after you overlapped with them.
You can then sail your proper course (but not above, since you gained the overlap from behind).
If the leeward boat luffs you your proper course might be above the mark while you're keeping clear of them.
The windward boat must keep clear of you throughout.

If inside the zone...
If either boat ahead of you is inside the mark's zone before the overlap starts you must keep clear of them.
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