Joe Boater Sails the Sound (Puget Sound, that is)
Oh, Joe! You’ve had the boat for a few months, and you’ve done some warm-up sailing in the Ship Canal and on Lake Union. You’ve got the halyards figured out, and the winch thingy is no longer a mystery. The outboard is running well, and the sails seem to fit. Next up, Puget Sound!
Out of the locks (phew, you made it without incident……this time), down the channel, and out onto the Sound. You are enjoying the northerly summer breeze. Single-handing, you have the mainsail and genoa up and are feeling good. “I’m sailing, I’m sailing!” First, you cross the Sound on a starboard beam reach, then tack over for the return trip on the port side. “This is fantastic. There is so much room to sail.” You are alert, standing up and looking all around, “keeping watch.” You feel very aware, but “gee, that genoa creates a pretty big blind spot.” “No matter, Joe Boater has it covered.” There are a few other sailboats on the Sound, but everyone is so spread out. “Incredible!”
All of a sudden, “Holy %&*!” there is a boat next to you, not 5 feet away on the port side, on a starboard tack and reciprocal heading to you. Your look of surprise can only be equaled by the look of surprise of the 2 couples sitting at their cockpit table, eating cheese and drinking wine. Everyone is so stunned, not a word is spoken(except the “Holy %$*!”), which is likely for the best as nothing good could have come of it. Joe’s first boat, first time on the Sound, with so much water and so few boats around him(obviously not), and he nearly has a head-on collision! “Incredible!”
Joe is pretty dumbfounded, and he thinks it through. It would have been his fault because he’s on the port tack and they were on the starboard tack. The genoa created a blind spot that took too much to keep a vigilant watch around. “Ahhh, that is what a pendant is for, duh!” It will lift the genoa up and give you a gap to peer through so that a proper watch can be kept. You know the first thing Joe Boater will be doing when he gets back to port. Still, Joe is in disbelief. Though by himself, he was standing up, aware and alert, and while ignorant and inexperienced, he was trying to do the right thing. The other boat must have been in his blind spot for quite some time, there were four people on board with good visibility, and not one of them was paying attention and keeping watch. It is every boat’s responsibility to keep watch and to take necessary action to avoid a collision, regardless of the right of way. Joe Boater only hopes they had some reflective moments too.