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Speed Limits applying to Sailing Boats?

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ohFFsake View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ohFFsake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Speed Limits applying to Sailing Boats?
    Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 8:54pm
Not entirely sure whether this is really the right section for this post, but here goes...

Here on Windermere, the lake speed limits have been a rather major political issue for some years now, with a 10mph blanket speed limit having been introduced about 5 years ago to stop water ski-ing.

This new limit applies to all powered craft on all the open areas of the lake, but there are also 3 areas where a further 6mph speed limit applies (and always has done).

Unfortunately, when this bye-law was drafted many years ago no-one thought to ensure that it only applied to powered craft, so in the letter of the law sailing boats are supposed to stay within 6mph too.

Until recently this has never been an issue, indeed it is over 20 years since I first sailed on the lake and I wasn't even aware of this restriction. But over the last 12 months or so the lake wardens have begun to take an interest in sailing dinghies. On more than one occasion club sailors have now been cautioned by the wardens for exceeding the speed limit, and recently the OOD was approached by the warden and told we should not be setting courses within the 6mph speed limit as this encourages people to break the speed limit. (Two of our regular racing marks are about 100 yards inside the speed limit area).

It all sounds a bit farcical (and really it is), but there is also a potentially serious problem for our club. The club itself is well within the 6mph limit area, so if it is windy (or even gusty as it tends to be here) then it could well be virtually impossible to sail to and from the race area without speeding. If we, as a club, go ahead and impose restrictions on our racing area as requested then it seems to me that we are tacitly agreeing that this enforcement is reasonable, and would then have no argument should they give a ticket to someone sailing out to the race course on a breezy day.

Further comments have been made about "reducing sail" and not flying spinakers, but clearly someone broad reaching down the lake in (say) a Laser has no practical way of keeping his top speed within the limit if hit by a gust (even if he could accurately measure his speed, which he can't).

Even more of a problem is our annual "long distance" races, in which we sail the full length of the lake and back. This runs as an open event and is the highlight of our calendar, but necessitates sailing through a further 6mph limit through Bowness Bay, halfway up the lake. This year a boat was warned for doing an alleged 9kts. (I believe it was a Blaze, so again no feasible way of limiting his downwind speed).

So if we agree not to run races in the speed limit then this race has to go by the board as well, which is a great shame as it has run for donkeys years. Not only that but it runs as a charity race and usually raises about £500 for local causes.

The reason I'm posting is to see if anyone has had any similar experiences elsewhere, eg with speed limits in restricted harbour areas. My assumption was that marine speed limits always exempted sailing boats for the practical reasons I've touched on above, in a similar way that speed limits on the roads don't apply to bicycles. Is this assumption accurate?

Is our strange situation unique, or have other clubs encountered similar problems? If so, how have they resolved them to protect their sport?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated.


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laserboy404 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote laserboy404 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:23pm
On the Norfolk Broads which have a similarly low speed
limit we have never had any problems because it is and has
always been the case that sailing boats are exempt from
speed limits, this is because the speed limits are designed
primarily to keep wash down, and obviously the wash created
by a sailing dinghy is negligable when compared to motor
boats.
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G.R.F. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote G.R.F. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:26pm
Take it up with your local MP.

(Don't forget to mention his/her expenses and how much y'all
contributed)

Then involve the RYA legal department.

I'm fairly sure 'the spirit' of the law had no intention of restricting sail, as I
recall it was powerboats waterskiing and jetskis they wanted rid of,
trouble is the British Jobsworth, once given the title 'warden' with bugger
all to do all day will inevitably vary his remit.

If all that fails, late night, attach lump of concrete and chain to the legs of
the said jobsworth and introduce him to the lake first hand. (Best get
someone else to do it and be somewhere else, plausible deniability is
good in cases like this)

Edited by G.R.F.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ohFFsake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:35pm
We are already in the process of contacting our local MP and our prospective local "shadow" MP (both of whom are keen sportsmen); and indeed the RYA.

I agree totally about "jobsworths". The acid test for me is "would any of these speed limits be in existence if powered craft weren't permitted to use the lake at all" and the answer seems an emphatic "no". Therefore the intent behind the law was not to restrict sailing boats so there is no moral justification for persecuting people who can neither measure nor regulate their speed with any accuracy.

Laserboy, thanks for the verification about the Broads. I love the Norfolk rivers and sail down there whenever I can engineer an opportunity, and what you say confirms what I always assumed to be the case.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Villan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:51pm
Just a question - Are your clubs safety boats also limited to 6mph in the 6mph zone, and 10 in the 10, even if they are heading to a rescue? (Or to the shore if the rescue dictated needed to do so? (Injury etc? ))
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ohFFsake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 10:07pm
Originally posted by Villan

Just a question - Are your clubs safety boats also limited to 6mph in the 6mph zone, and 10 in the 10, even if they are heading to a rescue? (Or to the shore if the rescue dictated needed to do so? (Injury etc? ))

No. We're pretty sure we're ok with this one, thus:
Originally posted by Byelaw


The use of a power-driven vessel in circumstances necessary to the proper execution of his duty by any of the following persons, that is to say:-

...

(d) any person taking part in rescue operations or in securing the safety of persons on the lake; or

...

shall not be deemed an offence against these byelaws


There's also another rather vague loophole which I think could potentially be used by a dinghy sailor as a defence:


In obeying and construing these Byelaws due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the craft involved, which may render a departure from the above Byelaws necessary in order to avoid immediate danger.

It might be argued that it is a limitation of a sailing dinghy that it's downwind speed cannot be moderated without incurring immediate danger of capsize / loss of control.

But even so, I wouldn't like to have to try and explain the mechanics of dinghy sailing to a Magistrate, in order to justify the fact that the faster you go the safer you are. Obvious as it might seem to us, I can imagine it would seem like "a likely story" to a non-sailor!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote asterix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 8:42am

I hope you don't need to ... but maybe start a petition for common sense - I'll sign it!  and there must be 1000s of other sailors who would

Good luck!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Stefan Lloyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 10:21am

Originally posted by ohFFsake

Is our strange situation unique, or have other clubs encountered similar problems? If so, how have they resolved them to protect their sport?

Chichester Harbour speed limits apply to powered craft only, including rescue boats unless actually engaged on a rescue. They can and do fine offenders.

 

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ColPrice2002 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ColPrice2002 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 1:02pm

Hi,

11                      Speed Limits

             11.1     No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-

From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)

Colin

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Andymac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 7:07pm
Originally posted by ColPrice2002

Hi,

11                      Speed Limits

             11.1     No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-

From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)

Colin

I believe that is very much the case in law with pedal cycles (although many nowadays have mini computers fitted) I don't think a cyclist can be prosecuted for breaking a speed limit on the public highway, but can be prosecuted for reckless riding though!

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