• The yacht is just visible in front of the ship. Photo courtesy USCG.
    The yacht is just visible in front of the ship. Photo courtesy USCG.
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SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard cited the operator of a 25-foot sailboat in the San Francisco Bay Area Thursday for negligent operations.

The sailboat crossed in front of the bow of a 550-foot tank ship on April 18 while transiting a narrow channel in the vicinity of Stockton and was cited and fined for violating 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 83.09, commonly referred to as Rule 9.

The top of the mast was the only visible portion of the sailboat when the tank ship was required to take action to avoid collision.

“Large commercial vessels have a blind spot that often extends hundreds of feet in front of their bow,” said Lt. Anna Funk, a Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Investigating Officer. “These ships are far less maneuverable than small recreational boats and can take up to a mile and a half to stop, which means they have to take evasive action well in advance if the intentions of nearby vessels are unclear.”

Owners and operators can face maximum civil penalties of $14,910 per incident for violating navigation rules.

Marine Safety and Security Information Bulletin (MSIB) 14-07 shows a list of “narrow channels or fairways” in San Francisco Bay and approaches for the application of the Inland and International Rules of the Road.

Vessel masters and operators are encouraged to report incidents that merit investigation. Reports will be investigated and may result in actions such as license suspension or civil penalties.

For more information, contact Sector San Francisco Command Center personnel at (415) 399-7300 or Sector San Francisco Investigations Division at (510) 813-9636 or email at SectorSFInvestigations@uscg.mil.

According to Rule 9 - Inland waters, vessels and powerboats less than 20 meters (or 65 feet), all sailboats and vessels engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of a vessel that can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway. Additionally, a vessel shall not cross a narrow channel or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within that channel or fairway. The term “shall not impede” means a small vessel or craft must keep well clear and not hinder or interfere with the transit of larger vessels. All vessels shall avoid anchoring in a narrow channel, unless doing so is in the immediate interest of navigation safety.

-USCG-

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