At the weekend I was racing in a mixed dinghy fleet inland.
The wind was gusty and shifting, such that we were often luffing to avoid capsize, and changing course to follow the wind shifts.
My question is for clarification of what happened on the beat.
I was on Starboard, and an approaching dinghy on port was hailed 'Starboard' at a few boat lengths (mostly to make sure he had see us)
The port boat appeared to think he would pass clear ahead, and responded "hold your course."
At this point I apparently changed to point higher (I do not recall this, but may well have followed my jib tell tails to a higher pointing course).
We were not close enough that this would have caused an immediate collision. (and no collision actually occurred)
The port boat admonished me - saying once you have called you must maintain your course and you cannot luff.
I don't think I deliberately luffed, although it is possible that I was now sailing such that he would not manage to pass clear ahead.
I think as right of way boat I am allowed to sail to the best course possible - which would include taking a lift on a beat.
I am not certain what the correct action here is?
As right of way boat can I not sail to the best course I can?
Case 92 is with regard to bearing away, which I don't think applies here - I was close hauled at all times, potentially pinched slightly and following the wind.
Regardless for the reason you may have luffed up (wind shift, gust, etc.) you ARE changing course, and you would need to be sure the port tack boat had room to keep clear.
You are NOT obligated to maintain any particular course (there is no RULE for this as your port tacker perhaps suggests), but you do have obligation when changing your course (16.1).
Put differently, a hail of "hold your course" has no meaning within the rules and you are NOT obligated to hold your course just because another boat asked you to.
1) you do not have to hail that you have the right of way. "Starboard!" is meaningless according to the rules
2) "Hold your course" is also meaningless
3) you had the right of way
4) If there was sufficient room for him to pass ahead then he should have done so, but if the situation changes because you change course he has to change his tactics and go behind.
The only rule I think that applies other than rules 10 (port starboard) and 14 (avoiding contact) is 16.1 - "When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear."
Which means you can't hunt down the other boat.
The best course of action if you had to do it all over again is to keep quiet, let the other boat on Port Tack figure out that it's super gusty and shifty and make the right decision to go behind (or tack).
Henry, although you’re right that a hail of starboard isn’t required, I can think if two good reasons to make it anyway. One is to make sure the port boat is aware of you. The other, even if starboard thinks port is pretty safe in crossing, an emphatic hail of “starboard” may encourage port to tack or duck instead (assuming that the starboard boat prefers that port not cross ahead).
In dinghy sailing anyway, you can make very close approaches to oncoming boats before making decisions.
And I particularly dislike the call from a port tacker (American sailors tend to do this more than any in my experience) "Tack or cross"... to which I never respond.
My hail was to make sure the port boat was aware we were there, as his sail may easily have masked us.
I would consider that to be a part of rule 14 - let the other people know you are there to avoid collision.
I didn't think 'Hold your course' would be anything more than an acknowledgment that the Port boat has seen us and will avoid us - I wouldn't have interpreted it as do not alter you course, and it seems I didn't...
We were what I would consider a long way apart for port to take avoiding action - not close enough to force a commitment one way or the other.
Even if he had decided to cross I know (having sailed that sort of dinghy) how close it could get before a tight 'lee bow' tack would have been impossible (basically already touching) - we were not that close.
I am coming back to sailing from a long absence (20+ years) - the rules have changed a lot in that time (mostly for the better and simpler it seems) - so Im not 100% sure yet of where I stand. (mast abeam for instance....)
I think port managed to cross ahead anyway - I do know that at the windward mark he sailed us past a long way - not overlapped, him to windward and both on starboard - so no space for me to complete a tack and clear him.
But by shouting "cross" you're actually saying "you're going the wrong way". That's giving away information unnecessarily.
I've learned my lesson the hard way. When I said "cross" and then they tacked instead and parked in my lee bow forcing me off in a direction I didn't want to go.
No thanks - I never answer.
Usually, though, I think the “tack or cross” hail is intended as passive-aggressive. What they mean is “bear away and let me cross or I’ll tack on you.” I expect as often as not it’s a bluff - if they want to go left and you don’t let them cross they’ll probably duck and keep going the way they want to go..