#COLREGs – Rules 25

What about those vessels that are powered by the most ancient of power sources – wind and human muscle..?  Read on, sailor.

Rule 25 – What Does It Say?

It covers sail boats and “vessels under oars.”  With respect to sail boats, the Rules look to find a way to telegraph to you that the vessel you are closing on at night is underway, but not a power boat…  How…?  Well, it is lighted like a power save one feature.  It has no mast light..!  Sail boats are required, like powered vessels, to have side lights (red and green) and a stern light – but no mast light.

If she is under 20 meters (remember the 3x + 10% rule of thumb), she may exhibit an all-around light at the top of her mast – white shining astern, red and green abeam and ahead, port and starboard.  The light itself shall (must!) conform to the exact degree specifications we talked about with respect to #COLREGs-Rule 21.

What if you come upon a vessel at night which is exhibiting the side-light-stern-light configuration of a sail boat but also, high above, you see two lights – red over green?  Under Rule 25 (c), a sail boat may also exhibit the red-over-green configuration at the top of her mast to make her easier to see – “red over green, I’m sailing tonight and want to be seen!”  BTW, she cannot do it in conjunction with the all-around light we described above, regardless of her size.  Under Rule 25 (d), a sail boat under 7 meters (~23 feet) “may” exhibit the lights configuration of her larger cousins but, if she isn’t fitted with them, she “shall have ready at hand an electric torch [a flash light, Bunky] or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to avoid collision.”  Often, the sailor will shine the light on the sail as it creates a larger palette.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

.


                                                                                                                               (courtesy, USCG Rules of Navigation)

Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

What about rowing – which includes kayaks that are now, due to their growing popularity, amongst the highest sources of accidents and death at sea. The Rule for (wo)man-powered vessels – of any size – is just like 25 (d) for sail boats – she “may” exhibit the lights configuration of her wind-powered cousins but, if she isn’t fitted with them, she “shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to avoid collision.”  How many kayakers out there have a flash light under their decks…?  Or life jackets on them..?  The stats on those that don’t are getting deadlier and deadlier by the year…  Don’t be a statistic!

Lest we forget our new emphasis on Shapes, are sailing vessels required to display a Shape and when?  Yes, there is a Shape for sailing vessels – it is called the “cone, apex-downward.”  It looks (or is supposed to look) like an ice-cream cone.  It is to be exhibited forward “where it can best be seen.”  And when is it to be displayed?  When the sails are up – and the engine is on... in short, she has to declare that “I am just a funny looking power-boat right now” and be expected to act accordingly – and be treated accordingly.  (Just remember that there are no “100-0” accidents out there.  She is still unable to respond as quickly and sharply as a powered vessel since her sails give her considerable “windage.”) 

BTW, sailing vessels under 12 meters (~26 feet) “may” exhibit the Shape but are not required to.