We were out on a fine February day a few years back. My friend Hillary had brought his two teenage sons. John and Kona filled out the cockpit. We were on a port tack off of Angel with our 130% genoa flying. Moving along at about 6 knots, Hillary's son mentions that there is a boat heading our way on a starboard tack. I hear a faint cry, "starboard". I immediately tell John to fall off. He falls off hard and an older gal flys by in a Santana 22 on our starboard side...and very close. I was stunned. Usually, I can come up with something smart to say, but in this case, I was speechless. I could not believe that this lady was going to hit us because she had the right of way! The first rule of sailing is never hit another boat. You donot want people in the frigid bay where hypothermia can set in in less than 10 minutes. Our problem was that our genoa is huge and it blocks the view off starboard. Because we have lots of boat traffic on the bay, especially on the nice weekend days, I have come up with a way to prevent this situation. It's called "wag the dog". Heading upwind or downwind a few degrees to get a view from that side will give you a much better idea of what is approaching. When we see another vessel, we check to see if the land behind it is moving. If it is, we are not on a collision course. If the land is not moving, we are on a collision course and evasive maneuvers may be needed. There are no required courses to take to drive a boat on the bay. And for that reason, I always assume the other boat does not know the rules and if it looks questionable, even if I am on the starboard tack, I give the other boat the right of way. It's not worth it.
We are so thankful that we did not have a collision. We headed out the Gate that day and had one of the most glorious sails ever out to the Pacific. There are good days and great days on our lovely bay. This turned out to be one of the best!