The SFBA is reaching out to the boardsailing community with a request to better coexist with the commercial vessels we share our waterways with. Long story short we need to change the way we are riding the waves created by commercial vessels.
With the explosion in popularity of wing foiling a new concern for safety has arisen and it has escalated to the point we as a community need to begin to police ourselves before it's done to us. Or even worse before someone gets hurt. If you want to stop reading this post just stay 300 feet away from all commercial vessels and never cross their bows unless safety necessitates doing so. (see picture at the top and below) If you want details read on.
The community needs to know that the captains that drive these ships are repeatedly calling the US Coast Guard and notifying them of what they deem unsafe behavior with Wing Foilers coming too close to the ships. In particular, riding the wave created by the bow and coming very close to the sides of the ship. The Bar Pilots have also communicated to us that sailors are still crossing the bows of these ships way too close.
The US Coast Guard has reached out to the St. Francis Yacht Club, as well as notifying the SFBA multiple times now that the problem has escalated to the point enforcement action may need to be taken. Without going into the obscure minutiae of maritime code rule 9’s narrow channel rule is very clear that at no time should anyone be within 300 feet of any commercial traffic. Doing so can result in fines up to $14k. No one wants it to come to that.
The SFBA has reached out to the boardsailing community as well as some of the Bar Pilots that drive these ships for input. The concerns include;
- A rider falling to close the ship's side may be sucked into the propeller via a stern back eddy. (see above)
- Wave riding midship may limit a ship's options when needing to maneuver.
- Wave riding midship may limit a tug or other support vessel in gaining quick access to the ship's side in an emergency.
- Sailors are crossing the bow of these ships at an unsafe (too close) distance.
The SFBA will be undertaking a campaign to let sailors know about these issues. We regularly speak with the US Coast Guard and will be sharing this effort with them. We know however the best way for this to unfold is without the Coast Guard needing to be involved. As a community, we need to come together and use the dynamics of peer management to demonstrate our respect for the broader maritime community we share our waterways with. In short, we need to make it uncool to be too close.
How far is 300 feet?
- 1 football field
- 6 sets of kite lines end to end
- 25 Windsurfing mast lengths
- 65 foil board lengths
Sailors wishing to ride the waves of commercial vessels need to enter the wave by coming in from behind the ship and then maintaining a distance of at least 300 feet from the ship's stern. Let’s do our best to spread the word and help keep the respect of the US Coast Guard, Commercial Captains, and Bar Pilots we share the water with.
The SFBA holds monthly outreach meetings for anyone to attend. We discuss safety and access issues as well as update the public on key projects. Please join us. Details in our event calendar.
For reference sake in this photo below. 1 sailor is clearly too close. 2 sailors are pushing it & 2 sailors are on safe lines.