Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pica: Beyond the Rules

Vin Pica on preventing collisions at sea - Annexes: Beyond the end of the Rules...
Guest blog by Vincent Pica
Chief of Staff and District Commodore-elect, First District, Southern Region (D1SR)
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Finishing up the Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea

As you can see below, we have now covered all the “Nav Rules”, i.e., the Rules to Prevent Collisions at Sea.  As with all Rules, there are amendments or, as they are called with respect to the COLREGs, Annex’s.  This column is to summarize these Annex’s and to further lay out what we did, when.  Remember, if you want reprints of any or all of the columns on the COLREGs, you can email me at or go to directly to the pages via the links below... (continues after the photo)

The rules in our wake

Annex I

Annex I is about the proper positioning of lights.  Again, it only applies to vessels in excess of 20 meters (~66 feet) but what is important to know is that things like the vertical spacing in the positioning of lights (for example, like delineating a fishing vessel) are set specifically so you don’t get confused by the bane of all skippers at night – shore lights… The Annex goes on to specify horizontal spacing in the position of lights as well as the specific sizes of the day shapes that commercial vessel use when it isn’t night time.

Annex II

While there are 14 separate sections to Annex I, Annex II reserves itself for additional signals for fishing vessels fishing in close proximity – a familiar issue even if we aren’t all commercial fishermen…  In keeping with Annex I, it specifies what lights to use when shooting nets, hauling nets or trying to unfoul them from the bottom..!

Annex III

Once you’ve set the technical specs for lights and shapes, there aren’t many things left.  One thing for sure is Sound Signal “Appliances”, i.e., your whistle, horn, bell or gong.  And, here, the exemption size isn’t 20 meters (~66 feet), it is 12 meters (~39 feet.)  That starts to get into “bay-sized” boats.  The Annex specifies frequency, intensity and range that it is hearable over.  Now, how are you supposed to measure that?  You don’t.  You install devices that are certified by the manufacturer that it meets or exceeds USCG standards…

Annex IV

Another technical specification is distress signals.  Rule 36 and Rule 37 tie directly into this Annex.  It specifies what distress signals are and what they are not…

Annex V

Here is one where there is very little chance anybody reading this will care about…  It is for Pilots – not the kind that fly planes but the kind that guide/assist large vessels into harbors.  And this Annex refers only to situations with respect to the Inland Rules…

Well, there you have it.  With this column and those listed below for your convenience, you have a solid grounding in “The Rules”, as they have been known to generations upon generations of mariners, even if we update them every so often for new facts, new findings, new disasters or new technology.

COLREGS – Column Dates and Subjects (USCG titles)
The links laid out in the table below open up PDF files that you should be able to print out, but if they don't work and you need a copy to print, please email Vincent at
You can also find all the articles related to The Rules here on the Daily Boater by going clicking here or searching for The Rules tag.

5-May-12 The Start
15-May-12 Rule 2 - Break All The Rules
22-May-12 Rule 5 - Look Out!
29-May-12 Rule 6 - Safe Speed?
5-Jun-12 Rules 7-8-9 - Narrow Channels
19-Jun-12 Rule 13 - Overtaking
26-Jun-12 Rule 14 - Head On
3-Jul-12 Rule 15 - Crossing
10-Jul-12 Rule 16-17 - Keep Clear
17-Jul-12 Rule 18 - Vessels in Sight of Each Other
31-Jul-12 Rule 19 - Restricted Visibility
7-Aug-12 Rules 20-21 - Lights and Shapes
15-Aug-12 Rules 22-23-24 - More Lights and Shapes
28-Aug-12 Rule 25 - Lights: Oars and Sails
4-Sep-12 Rule 26 - Lights: Fishing
11-Sep-12 Rule 27 - Lights: NUCs and RAMs
18-Sep-12 Rules 28-29-30-31 - Lights Wrap-Up
26-Sep-12 Rules 33-34 - Sounds Underway
2-Oct-12 Rule 35 - Sounds in Restricted Visibility
16-Oct-12 Rules 36-37 - Sounds under Distress
23-Oct-12 Rules: Wrap-up #1
13-Nov-12 Rules: Wrap-up #2

BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at or go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at DSO-HR and we will help you "get in this thing…"


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