Posted by Captain Terry on December 02, 2004 at 21:12:36:
In Reply to: Fishing Etiquette posted by Carl B on November 29, 2004 at 10:16:23:
A couple of thoughts on the boating incidents:
Alabamam recreational boaters are subject to the United States Coast Guard Naviation Rules International - Inland whether they are aware of that fact or not, as well as State of Alabama and local statues.
For example here is Rule 8:
ACTION TO AVOID COLLISION
(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules of this Part and [Intl] shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.
(c) If there is sufficient sea room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.
(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to asses the situation, a vessel may slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.
(f) A vessel which, by any of these rules, is required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel shall, when required by the circumstances of the case, take early action to allow sufficient sea room for the safe passage of the other vessel.
A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel is not relieved of this obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision and shall, when taking action, have full regard to the action which may be required by the rules of this part.
A vessel, the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the rules of this part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision.
A tape recording of dangerous boating with a VHS (not digital) camcorder in your boat makes good evidence. An adult witness who can sign an affidavit helps. A 35 mm waterproof camera is another good tool. The Coast Guard office or Alabama Marine Police could pursue appropriate action in the event of illegal actions. Brandishing firearms in this situation would destroy your credibility with the authorities, is illegal, and could lead to criminal charges, perhaps serious.
If mature boaters and fisherman use cool heads and pursue these guys through the right channels these type of people can be dealt with. There are a number of people in my area who have lost all privilege to be on the waterway due to strong prosecuting cases against them. Their cases are featured on the front page of the newspaper. Some have served jail time including one was also fined a huge amount of money because his intentional and repeated pumping of bilge oil into a public waterway was thoroughly documented. One failed to display proper lighting at night resulting in a collision. The jury was convinced by the evidence of the wronged party and convicted.
Be the smarter guy and make your attorney a happy man.
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