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Skipper’s Corner – Give Way! Never Play Chicken With Another Boat

Have you ever come across this scenario while captaining your vessel?
Two boats are barreling down the channel at extreme speed. One should be over closer to the red “CAN” buoys and the other should be on the opposite side of the channel closer to the green “NUN” buoys. Between them, there should be sufficient space to allow other boats to pass if it is safe and to provide a buffer area to allow for one or the other malfunction or lack of alertness by one of the captains. These days the protocols I just laid out are rarely taken into consideration. Boats zoom across the bays at incredible speeds while ignoring all the” Rules of boatmanship” let alone common sense. Instead, it’s like these fools just turn the engines over, point the bow toward Watch Hill or wherever, then push the throttle all the way! Let’s go, baby! F—k everyone else!

When in the channel, they look like they are aiming for you. I swear some do. It’s the “Ultimate H2O GAME OF CHICKEN”! They get a special thrill in their swimsuits as they force you further and further out of the channel towards the shallows, some so badly trimmed that they throw up a tsunami as they pass. To top it off they and their guests laugh and give you the high sign. Do those guests realize what an imbecile their fun-loving captain is? Do they realize that they can be a second away from a major injury or death? Do they even have their life jackets on? (A constant complaint of mine.) All this idiocy is a tragedy waiting to happen. Only boating tragedies don’t wait on the water. This utter disregard for other boaters causes major injuries and deaths all boating season and quite frankly, I rarely see the law chasing these jerks down. In fact, I rarely see them at all and if I do, they have pulled over some retired guy fishing.
So how does one deal with these jerks of the sea? For one thing, if you see a boat coming towards you, show him your intentions of where you are going to be by making a bow movement in that direction. That’s a legitimate signal. If he is stupid, he won’t understand so he’ll just keep on barreling towards you. Now you can let your testosterone take over and aim for him like he’s aiming for you and play “Chicken” with him to show him how tough you are! Now we have two stupid captains in the water and you’re worse than him because you took up the challenge.
There is a better, safer, way to deal with the situation. You slow way down and stay as close to your side of the buoys as you can. You move forward at a steady pace even though he is hogging the channel. If your GPS tells you that there is water deep enough for your boat and the oncoming vessel just “keeps on coming on” try to move completely out of the channel into safer waters. The likelihood of a lame brain following you there is highly unlikely. Why? Firstly, he probably never studied the bay and does not feel safe in what he would consider questionable waters, and secondly, he’s addicted to the thrill of speed. So let him have a field day. When he passes, you re-enter the channel after you’ve checked all around that it’s all clear. If you run aground because of this fool – no sweat! It’s better to call Boats U.S. or Sea Tow than a medevac. Secondly, you are the captain. It’s your job to maintain your cool while you’re dealing with the situation and if you remain cool even if it’s over, well then, I’ll let you call yourself “Admiral”.
In the final analysis, it is always better to “GIVE WAY”! Hey! Sometimes it even works well in marriages!

See you on the water!
Captain Eddy