Flying the Flag

IMG_8558Last weekend, we were part of an overnight raft up of sailboats.

We were the anchor-boat with two boats rafted to port and two rafted to starboard.  Of the five boats on the raft, ours was the only one displaying the U.S. flag properly.  One boat, a 42’ catamaran, had a faded, tattered, postage-stamp sized flag on the stern (should have been at least 42 inches in length).  Another had the U.S. flag flying on the starboard spreader, as if he was a foreign flagged vessel displaying a courtesy flag.  Another had the U.S. yacht ensign flying in the spreaders, even though the boat was not a documented yacht.  The fifth boat displayed no ensign at all.

As we were returning to Deale on Sunday afternoon, we were motoring towards the harbor entrance.  To our port, a Sun Odyssey 42 was motoring towards the channel as well.  Did the Sun Odyssey give way to our vessel?  Of course not – they blithely continued on course with no attempt to change course or speed at all despite our vessel clearly being the stand-on vessel (again, refer to the COLREGs).

Thursday afternoon, we did manage to have a stereotypical encounter with a know-nothing powerboater.

As we were anchored having lunch, this 26’ foot powerboat decides that he is going to anchor 40’ away from us, and directly upwind of us to boot.  Of course, they failed to set the anchor the first attempt and nearly drifted down on to us.  Keep in mind, we are in this huge anchorage (Herring Bay), where 300 or so boats anchored for the fireworks the night before.

Why he decided to anchor so close is a mystery.  On his second attempt, he managed to get his anchor down – right on top of ours.  Powerboaters –  uhhg.

Other than the anchoring demonstration, our encounters with powerboaters this past week were positive.  Larger, go-fast powerboats slowed down to pass us, apparently understanding that they are responsible for their wake.

We had powerboats change course to pass well astern of us while we were sailing, and we saw proper lights and flags as a rule.

Too bad I can’t say the same thing of my sailboater brethren.

Jon Jones

Jon Jones captains the Wind Orchid, a 2004 Catalina 350 he sailed out of Deale, Maryland on the Chesapeake’s western shore. In addition to extensive cruising in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Chesapeake Bay, Jon has sailed in the British Virgin Islands and Jamaica. Jon started sailing in 1996 when he was on exchange to the Canadian Military in British Columbia, Canada. A U.S. Army Captain at the time, Jon had never stepped foot on a sailboat, but that did not stop his superiors from detailing him the additional duty of Vice-Commodore of the Canadian Forces Sailing Association, West Coast Squadron. In 1997, Jon was elevated to Commodore. In 1999, Jon was reassigned to the Washington, D.C. area. He's since retired. Jon has logged over 10,000 miles in sailboats and he holds the Canadian Yachting Association’s Intermediate Coastal Cruising certificate, the American Sailing Association’s Advanced Coastal Cruising certificate and is an ASA qualified sailing instructor.

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