Sunday, September 2, 2012



There's been a lot of coverage here (and here and here) of a bad boat crash involving boating at high speed and drinking on the part of one of our legistators.  The other boat was a guy trailing his grandchildren tubing.  Lots of injuries - fortunately, all are expected to recover - and lots of blame to go around.  Speed and alcohol for sure on the one boat, potentially speed, distraction and/or erratic driving on either or both boats.

The accident investigation to determine who was at fault hasn't been completed, yet.  Lots of conversations online and with boating friends speculating about "who had the right-of-way?"

See, with boats, there is a clear set of rules explaining what to do in various situations where boats meet on the water.  They are the "COLREGS" - International REGulations for Preventing COLlisions at Sea, and every US boat larger than 39 feet is required to carry a copy onboard. (Smaller vessels like ours may carry them also, and we do, but aren't required to.) They explain which boat has to alter course if two appear to be on a collision course - sailboats yield to tugs, for example, and power boats yield to sail; in this case it's about which boat is more maneuverable.  The boat that has the right-of-way also has obligations; it must maintain its course and speed so the boat that is charged with avoiding it can predict where it will be.  COLREGS also give general rules to be followed at all times (keep proper watch, keep speed safe for conditions); and codify old traditions that describe the pattern of lights that will allow boats to see each other, and just by eye to identify each other's type and some indication of their orientation and course at night.

It's my fantasy, so I keep thinking, it would be so cool if we had some sort of COLREGS for everyday life.  Just imagine how smooth social interaction would be if everyone knew and followed the same rules to avoid, if not boat crashes, then personality clashes!  I get that etiquette is intended to do just that, sort of, but it varies from culture to culture and even from region to region. But remember that whole bit in the COLREGS about lights, so you can instantly look at another boat and from its lights at night, understand what kind of boat it is and where it's headed?   What I'd really like in my hypothetical COLREGS for social interaction, is the equivalent of those lights - so that on meeting a new person, you could instantly understand their true nature and intentions.

Note: This post is in no way a reference to either current national politics, nor any of my former lovers.  Nope.  None.  Not any.  (Yeah, right.)
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