Topic: Recreational RADAR use
posted March 29, 2010 03:20 PM
Does Nav Rule 7b place the recreational RADAR operator in the same capability category as the licensed professional mariner as far as the ability to carry out"radar plotting" goes? Have there been any court decisions that speak to this question?
From: New Jersey
posted March 29, 2010 10:02 PM
Rule 7b states:
7(b) Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects
The "systematic observations" applies to all radar operators. There is nowhere in the rules that specify otherwise, and in fact Rule 1 states clearly:
1(a) These Rules apply to all vessels upon the inland waters of the United States, and to vessels of the United States on the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes to the extent that there is no conflict with Canadian law.
Vessels are defined in Rule 3a
3(a) The word “vessel” includes every description of water craft, including nondisplacement craft, WIG craft and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
"systematic observations" on the other hand are not defined. For a small boat operator, this could mean simply setting the EBL on the target and watching to see how it moves... in fact this would be the minimum... or maybe marking the target location with a marker on the screen periodically labeled with the time. that is another way.
There are numerous court cases related to the proper use of radar. I do not know of any related to a distinction between recreational and commercial vessels, which would seem unlikely because there is no such distinction in the Rules.
The more general question that we often hear is whether or not having radar on board adds some level of liability because the rules say you must use it if you have an operational radar on board.
I venture to say the answer to this is no, you instead gain much value in safety and efficiency, but only if you take the time to learn to use it.
on the other hand, if you are chartering a boat that has radar on it, and you then do not use it in a risk of collision encounter because you do not know how to use radar, then you would probably not be cited on that rule in the event of a collision, depending on all of the other factors involved.
For example. essentially every collision involves the violation of at least one rule, usually more, by both of the vessels involved. If you were not maintaining a proper watch... almost certainly one of the violations in such a case, then this would take precedence over not using radar when you did not know how to.
but if you were sailing off into an area of known traffic in forecasted fog, then you could well get cited for not using radar as it might appear that you did such a thing assuming the radar could help you... etc.... ie the results of such a court case will depend on the full picture, not just whether or not you used radar on a charter boat when you did not know how to.
If you put radar on your own boat, then certainly you would want to take a couple hours out to learn how to use it, in which case it will always add safety to your navigation.... and again, though you would even then not want to put yourself into a situation where you feel your limited experience with radar might hurt you.
Remember the overriding importance of rule 2a about the "ordinary practice of seaman"
2(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.
the hazards of sailing in traffic in the fog and the value of radar in that case is indeed "ordinary practice of seamen."
to look for specific court cases there are a couple good books:
Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road, eighth edition by Craig H. Allen (Naval Institute Press, 2005)
Collisions and their Causes by Richard A. Cahill (Fairplay Publications, 1983)
Collision Cases Judgments and Diagrams by F.J. Buzek and H.M.C. Holdert (Lloyd’s of London Press, 1990)
but i do not think the issue of recreational vs commercial appears in these.
From: Starpath, Seattle, WA