Friday, June 12, 2009

Channel Etiquette

So, you’re in a small boat out fishing by the narrow channel in northern Lake Worth. There’s a 45-foot sailboat approaching from one direction, and a 50-foot barge from the opposite direction. They’ll pass at about your position. What do you do? Why, steer into the middle of the channel and toss out a fishing line, of course! This is exactly what happened as we were leaving Lake Worth to head offshore for our run to North Carolina. About a half dozen boats clustered by the edge of the channel, and as we (and the barge) neared, they moved in front of us. Now, neither the barge nor our sailboat could veer off, since it was shallow outside the channel, so we just chugged along. On one of the boats, a small flat craft, a guy standing on the bow fishing stumbled when his friend turned the boat (back into the channel, I must say), and we wondered what would have happened if he had fallen overboard because he was right in front of the barge, and there was no way that baby could stop on time. The barge pilot had similar thoughts to ours, because he smiled and waved to us in passing, then made “running-over” motions while gesturing to the smaller boats. This situation really emphasized the value and future utility of high school physics classes (which these guys obviously skipped). Physics word problem: “How squished will you be if your half-ton boat is caught between a 16-ton sailboat and a 30-ton barge, each moving toward you at four knots?”

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