Thursday 1 October 2009

Motor Boats

Maybe it’s only in the UK, but the ongoing conflicts between motor boats and sailing vessels continues to fill the pages of our yachting press. The power boaters can’t understand why the yachts constantly change direction without warning (it’s called tacking); while the yachtsmen are equally vocal about powerboats passing close by, at high speed, kicking up a huge and dangerous wash.

Of course the exception proves the rule. The other day I was drifting around in my dinghy off Lands End Hard, I would have said I was sailing, but there was so little wind. Stuck right in the middle of the channel as I was, the owner of this powerboat, named “Ariadne” not only changed course, but slowed right down as he passed causing hardly a ripple.

As they went by I gave a wave of thanks, but I don’t think he understood how grateful I was, so if you are reading this, thank you, your courteous action was very much appreciated.


  1. many of the mobo owners are lovely, lovely people. They would be even lovelier if they could be persuaded that merely by becoming sailors they would be even nicer people

  2. I live in Michigan in the States and sail a Swampscott Dory and an Ian Proctor designed dinghy on the West end of Lake Erie.
    Here one can buy any size boat and drive or have it delivered to the water and take off without a moments training. It shows on the water as many power boaters have little idea about courtesy--even to each other.
    Our Auxiliary Coast Guard people have tried for years to get new boat owners to take the courses they provide but few do. Unless it's made a law, such as hat requiring training before getting an auto license, it probably isn't going to get any better.
    I've had big (three level) cruisers fly at full speed by me within 30 or 40 feet and throw a wall of water. The captains behave as though they don't even see me down there in the water though my sail is pretty big. Maybe it's just an arrogance thing; they have the money, and I must not since I have such a small boat.
    Anyhow, they don't all behave this way. Some actually slow down and wave.

  3. One of the drawbacks of having an eye-catching boat in an area dominated by stinkpots is that they charge over and carve a tight ring around my boat while taking photos. Then, occasionally with a wave, they thunder away leaving me in the centre of a circle of wake. I used to be flattered, now I just swear.


  4. I see some really bad behavior by power boaters. I think some of them use other boats as a reference point and steer in that direction.
    But having spent time on both power and sailboats, sailors should learn some manners as well. Just because they throw no wake, does not mean they should get close to other boats.
    Having the "right of way" does not mean "get out of my way". I have seen too many sailboats get way too close to fishing boats, anchored boats etc.
    Everybody needs to learn to keep a safe distance.


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