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Today’s close calls

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Joined: 11 Nov 2018
Posts: 56
City/Region: Orcas Island
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2006
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C Sharp
Photos: C-Sharp
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:12 pm    Post subject: Today’s close calls Reply with quote

I had to take my boat over to the West Sound Marina on the other side of Orcas Island from where I moor. Should have known it was going to be one of those days as on the way out I had a really close call with a deer jumping out in the road in front of my truck forcing me to slam on the brakes at no faster than 35mph. It was one of the closest calls with a deer in quite some time.

My neighbor/friend Lee, who is an accomplished long-time mariner here in the San Juan Islands, came along with me as I am still a little green and nothing like a little local knowledge when making my first thread through Pole Pass. Plus Lee was up for a boat ride and interested in my CD22 despite having his own 34’ cabin cruiser.

Wonderful smooth seas and light winds made for a delightful cruise at mostly around 17 knots. We came south through Spring Passage between Jones and Orcas Islands, transitioned to North Pass between Steep Point and Reef Island and set a course to the west well outside of Deer Harbor. I did notice another power boat far off my stern heading our same direction. Several minutes later I noticed the power boat approaching at a much higher speed than I, and off my port transom appearing to be on a course between me and Steep Point. I thought it strange that this fast boat would choose to overtake between me and the point, rather than the much more open waters to my starboard. I was aware of him and made sure I was holding a straight and steady course. This boat was really coming up fast and suddenly he was heading right for my transom. Lee and I were quite astonished he was coming up so fast and on a coarse right toward my port stern. Didn’t seem to make sense, but how could he not see me? Suddenly he was right up on us and I couldn’t see much more than a big wall of teal colored bottom paint. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Within 10 feet and milliseconds before impact I made a evasive hard full turn to starboard as right about that time the assaulting vessel made a hard turn to the left and narrowly passed us on our port side. Whew, that was WAY too close and felt so surreal. He zoomed by so fast we couldn’t read his registration number other than that it had Washington numbers. It was a well-used 24’ SeaSport with what looked like an old Johnson 2-stroke kicker swing up on the back. Wow, what a close call and it took quite a few minutes to get my heart rate to settle down.

But that was not to be the end of the day’s excitement, but it was the climax. As we approached Pole Pass, there was what turned out to be another C-Dory, an Angler 19’, heading through in the opposite direction. Not a problem, although the pass is a bit narrow, it is certainly wide enough for two C-Dorys to pass at the required slow speed. I held my course to the right of center giving plenty of room. At first is appeared the passing CD was intending to pass port to port. But then as the gap was starting to close, he starts veering across the other direction. So then I thought; “well then, I guess he plans to pass starboard to starboard, OK then…” Then he goes back the other direction as if in an intentional zigzag. What the heck is going on here? Lee and I look at each other and just can’t determine his intentions. He’s acting like the proverbial drunk sailor. At least this time we are both going slowly. Finally the opposing skipper makes a decisive decision and passes to starboard and all is clear. But that is not to be as a huge cabin cruiser is also on a course through the pass from the east in the opposite direction at a very high speed despite our being clearly in the pass long before he even came up, and I clearly had the right of way with my port side being in his starboard quadrant. Rather than backing off or slowing down, he was literally stuffing me into Crane Island! I throttled further back couldn’t go any slower if I wanted to maintain control to stay off the rocks! Cabin Cruiser guy just zooms by and give a wave. What in the world is going on?

My friend Lee, who has been plying these waters for well over 40 years, and even before that with his parents as a child said he has never had so many close calls in all his years, especially in such a short distance. We had no idea what the issue was with the Seaport as it was either pure belligerence or complete negligence. Either way it felt like an assault. The indecisiveness of the other C-Dory just seemed like inattention or incompetence, but the cabin cruiser was pure self-centered aggressiveness.

So back on land the normally very pleasant car drive through calm easy-going Orcas Island was punctuated by a large RV motorhome with Colorado plates pulling right out in front of us without a care in the world and going so slow he eventually held up a whole string of vehicles before eventually turning into Eastsound. I safely got home, and am planning to stay put for awhile. May not even take my dog out for his evening walk.
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Joined: 23 Oct 2003
Posts: 4956
City/Region: Warrenton
State or Province: OR
C-Dory Year: 1996
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruise Ship
Vessel Name: TyBoo
Photos: TyBoo
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Let's hope that you got all the near mishaps for the entire summer out of the way today and will have smooth cruising from here on out.
TyBoo Mike
1996 25' Cruise Ship
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Joined: 02 Nov 2003
Posts: 16948
City/Region: Pensacola
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: thataway
Photos: Thataway
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First glad you are safe! The Sea Sport incident suggest that he was on auto pilot. I have had several "close calls" where that was the case.

Thank heavens you were watching closely! Hard to explain the Pole Pass, except as you say==drunken sailor?

Sometimes a "security" call on the radio, giving your position and the approximate position of the other boat (probably best by local land marks--since many boaters cannot determine their lat and long.

Bob Austin
Thataway (Ex Seaweed) 2007 25 C Dory May 2018
Thisaway 2006 22' CDory November 2011 to May 2018
Caracal 18 140 Suzuki 2007 to present
Thataway TomCat 255 150 Suzukis June 2006 thru August 2011
C Pelican; 1992, 22 Cruiser, 2002 thru 2006
Frequent Sea; 2003 C D 25, 2007 thru 2009
Home port: Pensacola FL
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Joined: 02 Oct 2011
Posts: 2615
City/Region: Madison
State or Province: WI
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Midnight Flyer
Photos: Midnight Flyer
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe a full moon? In the Wrangell Narrows today around Spruce Point, where there were a lot of fishing skiffs, I had a guy come right between me and Blue Days (the other boat I'm with up here), more or less cutting me off. While he may have been privately fishing, I was the stand on boat. And in fact he turned to go between us, while we were only about 100 feet apart. In the end, I made a turn to port to miss him and passed by his stern with about a boat length. (We were both going slow, 5-6mph). I should have given him the 5 toot salute, but was too astounded to do much. I figure that boat was a rental with one of the fish camps. Then coming into Petersburg, this time my fault, I was busy single handling and putting fenders and lines out. Thought I had taken a good clearing look before going aft, but came back up front just in time to turn to give an outbound fishing trawler the right of way! (Lets just say I was closer than I cared to be!) (I was only doing about 3 mph on auto pilot).
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Joined: 16 Jul 2017
Posts: 166
City/Region: Monmouth, Or.
State or Province: OR
C-Dory Year: 2018
C-Dory Model: 23 Venture
Vessel Name: DayBreak
Photos: DayBreak
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Steve, I would just lock your front door and not come out of the house for at least 7 days. Boating can be very stressful at times. Just have the attitude of driving defensively! I am glad for your safety and that you were able to avoid an accident and not have to do repairs on your new 22 Cruiser. Good job!

Gary and Colleen.
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First Draft

Joined: 01 May 2019
Posts: 38
City/Region: Wilson
State or Province: NC
Photos: First Draft
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had those kinds of days myself.
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Joined: 01 Aug 2013
Posts: 1080
City/Region: Traverse City; Northern Lake Michigan
State or Province: MI
C-Dory Year: 2014
C-Dory Model: 26 Venture
Photos: W B Nod
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stuff happens.

Bad stuff usually happens in a set of 3's.

So you're probably good for a while now...


It's difficult to win an argument with a smart person and almost impossible to win an argument with a dumb one. So, why do it?
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Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 7133
City/Region: Tropical Tip of Texas
State or Province: TX
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: "Wild Blue" (sold 9/14)
Photos: Wild Blue
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Pacific Northwest is my favorite place to boat. Lots of other people feel the same about it, as well. That occasionally makes for "interesting" situations.

It is important to know and follow the Rules of the Road. And then operate your boat as though others around you don't know the rules. Use the VHF and your horn if you aren't sure what other operators are doing (or if they act like they don't know what they are doing). Keep your head on a swivel and always have "a way out" and use it well in advance. If another boat is closing on you (from any direction), make your evasive maneuvers in advance. Even if you are following all the rules and you are involved in an accident (or incident), some portion of the blame will be assigned to you... because you didn't do whatever necessary to avoid the accident.

After years of operating commercial boats in that area, I have seem some incredibly stupid boater behavior. Weekends are heavier traffic. As you get close to marinas (Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor), any day of the week, expect people to not be paying attention. Aggressive behavior around the fuel docks.

Pole pass is one of those beautiful, but constricted, areas in the San Juans. Some of the charter companies have that on their "don't go there" list. There is a lengthy no wake zone there, yet almost every time I have gone through there, there has been at least one boat blasting through at speed.

Most of the time, the boating in that area is beautiful, but you have to stay aware of what is going on all around you. Not just for stupid boater behavior, but debris in the water, currents in passes, wind against current.

And, if you really want test your "evasive maneuver skills," come spend some time in the Tropical Tip. Shocked

Glad you came through unscathed. Most boating days there won't be like that. But, you have to stay alert.

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Joined: 30 Sep 2006
Posts: 4169
City/Region: Lake Stevens via Honolulu
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: 'Au Kai (Ocean Traveler)
Photos: 'AU KAI
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The world is full of a-holes. Watch out for you and yours. Eventually karma works it’s magic.
"We can go over there...behind the 'little one'....."
Wife to her husband pointing @ us...from the bow of their 50-footer; Prideaux Haven 2013
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Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 9982
City/Region: Sequim
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2005
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Sleepy-C
Photos: SleepyC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve, Glad you came through OK. That is important, and you don't have any new marks on your boat. That is too.

As mentioned, do avoidance early, and obviously. (show a side).

Not likely that any of those boats had AIS, but having an AIS receiver is a great help for dealing with the bigger traffic. Today I had an experience with a fast Cat whale watcher. He is 65 feet by 26, and moving at 35 knots, coming near towards me. I heard him call in to Vessel traffic that he was approaching Point
Wilson, but din not give a destination, so I was expecting him the come to port and continue S on the traffic lane, but no, he is still on the same spot on my windshield, so a quick call (VHF 05) on the traffic channel, confirmed that he was not going onto the lane, but crossing. (I was far to the left of the on-coming lane.) We had about 2 minutes to CPA, 18 feet (Closest point of approach) and the by then ( we were still about a mile apart, it was a quick easy call to confirm his intention and advise that I would drop speed and let him maintain course. This was my mandate as he was the stand on vessel.

Situation awareness is top priority, and boating is not different, really, than on a motorcycle. YOU have to figure they are all out there to get you, and few actually know or follow the rules of the road.

SleepyC Moon

Though in our sleep we are not conscious of our activity or surroundings, we should not, in our wakefulness, be unconscious of our sleep.
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