Saturday, 2 July 2011

Stand on and give way

Most of us, I suspect, are suspicious of coincidence in fiction - which is strange when you consider how common it is in real life.

On Thursday evening, in the context of the consequences of going rigidly by the book and the need, sometimes, to take a view, my uncle gave us a rhyme which made a lot of sense. I noted it down at the time in my little black notebook, and Lynn said, 'Are you going to blog it?' I said I would, if the occasion arose - and believe it or not, it arose this afternoon.

I was on the mainland side of Ringhaddy Sound, painting the yacht club's noticeboard, when I heard shouts coming from the far end of the pontoons. There were quite a few people around, it being such a nice day, and all heads turned in the direction of the pontoons.

Someone was trying to warn one of two boats who were making their way through the anchorage, and whose paths were about to intersect with unfortunate consequences. The rule in this situation is that whichever vessel has the other on it's starboard (right) bow (the purple vessel in the diagram), becomes the 'give way' vessel and must change course. The other - the 'stand on' vessel - has right of way. In this particular case, the stand on vessel was holding its course; absolutely correct, but clearly the give way vessel hadn't seen him, and wasn't ... giving way. At the last minute, the give way vessel did turn to starboard, and there was no harm done, but the stand on vessel might do well to remember my uncle's rhyme:-

"Here lie the bones of Michael O'Day
Who died while maintaining his right of way.
He was right - dead right - as he sailed along,
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong."
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