Lake traffic problems

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Lake traffic problems

Postby tinafred » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:37 am

I am not the most knowledgable on rules of the road, I am learning. I carry notes with me while out and about on the water for quick references and as learning tool/reference. After last weekend I am leaning toward the idea that once someone gets behind a ski boat, they leave safe boating rules on shore. That said, I went sailing on Canyon Lake north of San Antonio Texas with my 9 yo relative in my DS3 with light boat traffic. Winds out of the south at 5 to 9 knots, weekday early morning and after I got under sail it was like I was a magnet placed into a box of nails. The ski boats were creating anxiety in the child enough that we went back to shore with his agreeing to try another day.

Any help in planning on my next trip while on an inland lake would be appreciated. I was hoping the child would be my future sailing partner.
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby jeadstx » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:16 pm

Central Texas lakes get over crowded with power boats between Memorial Day to Labor Day. I sail Canyon Lake as well. Someone at Lake Canyon Yacht Club once told me "From Memorial Day to Labor Day the lake belongs to the power boats, the rest of the time it is ours (sailors)". In my experience, this seems to be true. That said, I would say that if you want to get out for a sail, do it in the morning hours, before noon on weekdays for your best chance of not being run over.

It seems that during the summer months that the power boats on central Texas lakes use even less "right of way" rules than they do the rest of the year (and they knew very few to begin with). About a week after Labor day though, traffic on the lake will be reduced and the air will stop smelling of burnt gas.

Perhaps David or Calvin will chime in on their experiences on Canyon Lake.

John
1976 Day Sailer II, #8075 - Completed the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Texas 200
1952 Beetle Boat Swan Catboat
Early Rhodes 19
1973 Mariner 2+2, #2607 - Completed 2014, 2015 and 2016 Texas 200
1969 Day Sailer I, #3229
Fleet 135; Canyon Lake, Texas
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby DigitalMechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:43 pm

I am relatively new to sailing, and I struggle with traffic as well. I put in right in the smack dab middle of downtown Jacksonville, and I have 2 bridges to motor past in a heavy traffic area... Its a convenient location to put in because it is about 5 minutes from my house. Any other "sailboat" accessible ramps are roughly 30 minutes away. So, I have stuck with it despite the annoyances. Also, this ramp is in the narrowest part of the river, so there is always a heavy current. This has a certain level of anxiety associated with it by itself. This area is also a manatee zone, so you have the no wake zone and coast guard / sheriff hanging out as well. Thus, you end up with a bunch of impatient over zealous motor boaters that cannot wait to get past that no wake zone, and when they do.... They all light it up full throttle. Now considering that you have had the same wait that they have had, you really are ready to turn the noisy motor off and set sail... Finally relaxation.... Until others creep around the bridge from behind you and hammer on the wakes. <-- And some of them intentionally try to get close when they blow by. Very nerve racking. So, I feel your pain brother!

With that said, I think I am going to invent a new sport called "wake sailing", lol.

So the more I go out, I have learned to be a little more patient and keep the motor on longer to get further out away from folks, and usually try and get over into a shallow part of the river near the bank to start, where not many others can go, and the speed boats don't care to be. Also, remember not to motor close to fishermen along the shore, you do not want to go from being the offended to the offender by scarring away their fish. They need space to so their thing as well (I think the golden rule is 100 yards or so). Now that I am on the edge of the water the breeze is usually less pronounced, so this makes it easy to hoist a sail... and float out toward the middle a bit. The wind will pick up more and more as I get away from the bank, and I will eventually be on my way.... Hopefully without wakes to cross :)

Once under sail, you technically have the right away to everyone but commercial ships... But that is just on paper. My experience is that the other boaters (no matter what they are doing) don't necessarily follow the rules, and do not necessarily have etiquette, or at least enough to consider why others are on the water (all doing different things), what is important to each of them, and how to make sure that everyone has an enjoyable time. In many cases I have typically had to give way to a motor boat, such as they think that the rules are the same for all boats. That person simply "does not know... what they do not know", and I am not going to be the one to help them learn. That would mean an accident... So, I respect that and I change course if they start to get to close, though I technically should not have to. If I am lucky I trade a sail position on the same tack. Easy and done. If I have to give way close hauled, that means a tack is in order, and I will get a break between changing gears to grab a cold one... Anxiety reliever... No problems... lol. An emergency gybes is another story... Not fun... Not sure how to make one less stressful. When there is a fair amount of wind, considering my beginner skill level, I may balk on a gybe altogether and do a mega tack. Unfortunately, if you only have one way left to point the boat, gybe is all you got. Fortunately I have not had to do this many times, and the few I have worked out, but the stress leading up to pulling that sail across is not fun, lol. Again on paper they are supposed to avoid you when under sail, but in the real world all that matters is your awareness and ability to avoid them to keep safe. Nobody is going to keep you safe but you.

Anyways that is my limited experience. I would say spend a little extra time trying to get away from the congestion if there is a possibility to, and always be prepared to give way even if you are not the one who is supposed to.
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby tinafred » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:47 pm

Canyon Lake has a long east/west lie with the winds mostly from the south during the summer. I will take your advice and stick with the am winds as well as hug the northern side of the lake close to shore. I am bound to get turbulence too close to shore but maybe off set with less wake issues. No matter, I will be out there once per week or more, I am retired. Thanks for all the input, I will let you know how many stumps I hit.
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:56 pm

I do most of my lake sailing on a lake with speed limits, but occasionally high traffic volumes. Within reason, I try to sail so as to allow boats to pass me without changes in course, but powerboats are pretty reasonable. We have regular, though not very frequent barge traffic, which makes things interesting. Especially at night.

Recently the number of kayaks and stand-up paddle boards seem to have increased to where extra vigilance is required. They tend to get out of the way, but sometimes are pretty oblivious. Also, on days where there are many sailboats, all criss-crossing each other in complicated patterns (beer can regatta nights) I've seen the non-sailors completely perplexed and not sure how to proceed.

On another lake, summer sailing during weekends is less enjoyable, because wakes tend to endlessly reflect, bounce and criss-cross, so that, even if the boats don't pass us closely (and outside certain "lanes" they rarely do), you get that swimming pool effect. Would not be as bad, if summer conditions weren't also concurrent with marginal wind speeds. Nothing like sitting still with sails flapping hard from the boat rolling constantly (if you sail upwind, the sail plan will actually act as a roll-damper - that's the reason for the many occurrences of "steadying sails" that were sported by older motor-driven fishing craft).

Around here, even in summer, week days seem to have less of a power-boating problem. That would mean mid-week might be better if you are retired.

I personally like night sailing, and then I pretty much have the lake to myself.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby kokko » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:54 am

The law of the land states that non-powered craft have the right of way over powered craft. Sailboats, under sail, are non-powered. The leadbellys are required to stay out of your way and out of the way of canoes, kayaks, etc.
I recognizes the relative maneuverability of water craft. Powerboats are move maneuverable than sailboats.

Everyone has to stay out the way of "working vessels", such as tugs, barges, and fishing vessels. Everyone has to stay clear of :vessels not under command"

A fisherman out under power, even a trolling motor, is a powered craft. A fisherman drifting is a non-powered craft. A fisherman (or any craft) at anchor is an obstruction to which you must keep clear.

I keep the sheriff water patrol on speed dial.
DS1 Truelove
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Kokko, permit me restate that summary a bit more precisely.

The "law of the land" is defined in the USCG NAVIGATION RULES AND REGULATIONS HANDBOOK which contains both the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGS or IRPCAS) and the Inland Navigation Rules. These two sets of navigation rules are very similar, which one applies depends (roughly) on whether the particular waters are reachable by seagoing ships or not. (There is a set of precise boundary lines defined).

The Navigation Rules do not distinguish between human powered and engine powered boats. But sailboats (while sailing) are subject to different rules, as are various types of boats constrained by their draft or their activity or other circumstances from maneuvering freely.

No boat has a "right of way". Instead, one boat is the "give way" vessel and the other is the "stand-on" vessel.
  • The give way vessel has to keep clear, and is supposed to maneuver in ways that are easy to spot (large changes of course).
  • The stand-on vessel is supposed to continue her course (in a predictable manner; this requirement is not always limited to strictly maintaining an unchanged heading).
All boats are supposed to avoid situations that could lead to collisions and to keep a good lookout.

While you are sailing, when you meet an ordinary powerboat, you are the stand-on vessel. They are supposed to keep clear. If they don't, you are allowed and required to take last-minute evasive action. If you overtake a power boat (come from more or less behind and are going faster), you are supposed to keep clear. (Yes, probably not a common scenario, but I have outsailed a barge once...)

You are the give-way vessel, if the powerboat is
  • not under command,
  • restricted in their maneuverability, or
  • engaged in fishing.
There is no reference as such to "working boats" in the rules, except those that are engaged in activities or have deep draft that do limit their maneuverability. Note, that small boats and sailboats are explicitly required to not impede larger boats in narrow channels.

However, it's simply prudent and courteous to not sail in the path of someone doing a job, if you can avoid it, and if that someone is a HUGE SHIP, then it's definitely the smart thing to do. (That is often called the informal "law of tonnage").

There is one final rule: if you sail anywhere where there are "traffic lanes" demarcated in the water (traffic separation scheme) then you are
  • supposed to stay outside
  • only cross with your hull at right angles
This may not apply on your typical lake, but is not uncommonly encountered in coastal waters.

This is it for a summary; like all summaries, it glosses over some details, which is not to say that some of these details aren't important.
If any of this was news to you, then going to the source and reading the HANDBOOK would be recommended.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby TIM WEBB » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:23 pm

GL, I would think that a couple of warning shots placed over the bows of any offending vessel from your pirate ship would do the trick? <grin>

1720
Tim Webb
1979 DS2 10099 The Red Witch
(I used to be Her "staff", in the way dogs have owners and cats have staff, but alas no longer ... <pout>)
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:21 pm

Then again one keeps finding things like this; you can only despair at the lack of common sense.
colregs.jpg
Death wish? Or trick of perspective?
colregs.jpg (32.07 KiB) Viewed 10655 times
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby DigitalMechanic » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:12 am

I love the fact that you guys have these pictures of little boats loaded up with cannons. I am envious my boat does not have any, lol.
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby hsubman » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:03 am

The traffic on the lake I sail, west central Ohio, is mostly pontoon party boats pulling tubes and skiers. The people onboard (can't call them crew) are usually 3 sheets to the wind and flat out crazy. They have huge massive engines, outboard and stern drives, sometimes show a complete disregard to any rules or other traffic. Many times worse than the old speedboats. Try to steer clear! They would probably think cannon fire was fireworks! Think I will stay home this July 4th and take in some real fireworks.
John
'83 DSII, 12279, MARY RUTH
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby GreenLake » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:11 pm

DigitalMechanic wrote:I love the fact that you guys have these pictures of little boats loaded up with cannons. I am envious my boat does not have any, lol.


One afternoon with a sheet of pink styrofoam, a length of water pipe insulation and some spray paint, and you'll be able to join the club. (I'll leave you to design the gun port flaps from materials at hand). Let's see what you can come up with.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby DigitalMechanic » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:00 pm

GreenLake wrote:
DigitalMechanic wrote:I love the fact that you guys have these pictures of little boats loaded up with cannons. I am envious my boat does not have any, lol.


One afternoon with a sheet of pink styrofoam, a length of water pipe insulation and some spray paint, and you'll be able to join the club. (I'll leave you to design the gun port flaps from materials at hand). Let's see what you can come up with.


OOOhhh Pink Cannons? How fabulous! I think I have some lime green curtains laying around I could turn into the gun flaps? :D
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby GreenLake » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:55 pm

A bit of spray paint turned the pink sheet into a passable imitation of a ship's side. The cool thing is that the solvent attacks the Styrofoam a bit, leaving a nice texture.
830
Additional shaping is easy with a hot knife or a soldering iron.

But if you rather do pink :)

I'll be looking forward to pictures of your efforts!
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Lake traffic problems

Postby DigitalMechanic » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:56 pm

Lol! That would be Inconceivable ;)
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