Sailing Etiquette and Rules: Island Sailing


Sailing etiquette and rules play a crucial role in ensuring the safety, enjoyment, and harmony of all sailors during island sailing expeditions. By adhering to established protocols and guidelines, sailors can navigate through the waters with ease while respecting their fellow seafarers and the environment. For instance, imagine a scenario where multiple sailboats are crossing paths near an idyllic island destination. Without proper knowledge of Sailing etiquette and rules, chaos could ensue as boats jostle for position or fail to yield right of way. However, by understanding and implementing these principles, such situations can be avoided, allowing for a seamless and pleasurable experience on the open sea.

In addition to promoting safety and order, sailing etiquette also encompasses considerations for environmental preservation. The delicate ecosystems surrounding islands are often home to diverse marine life that must be protected from potential harm caused by irresponsible boating practices. Understanding how to anchor properly without causing damage to coral reefs or seagrass beds is just one example of how adherence to sailing etiquette contributes to sustainable tourism. Furthermore, by following designated navigation routes and speed limits near sensitive areas, sailors can minimize disturbance to wildlife habitats while still enjoying the beauty of their surroundings.

Understanding VHF Radio Communication

Imagine you are sailing on a beautiful summer day, exploring the tranquil waters between islands. Suddenly, a thick fog rolls in, reducing visibility to almost zero. You can hear the sound of another boat’s engine nearby but cannot see it. In this situation, effective communication becomes crucial for avoiding collisions and ensuring safety. One powerful tool that sailors rely on is Very High Frequency (VHF) radios.

Using VHF radio communication properly requires understanding its rules and etiquette. First and foremost, it is important to have a clear channel before transmitting your message. This means listening for a few seconds to ensure no one else is speaking or sending out distress signals. Interrupting an ongoing conversation not only disrupts other sailors’ communications but also diminishes the effectiveness of your own message.

To maintain clarity during VHF radio conversations, it is essential to use proper language codes and procedures. The International Code of Signals provides standardized phrases and abbreviations for marine communication, such as “Roger” (acknowledgment), “Wilco” (will comply), and “Mayday” (distress signal). Familiarizing oneself with these terms improves efficiency and reduces confusion during exchanges.

Furthermore, adhering to basic radio etiquette ensures smooth interaction among sailors. When initiating contact, always begin with the name or identification number of the vessel being called followed by your own vessel’s identification information. Keep messages concise and avoid unnecessary repetition or jargon that may confuse others listening in on the channel.

In summary, mastering VHF Radio Communication is vital for safe sailing experiences, particularly when facing adverse weather conditions or restricted visibility. By following established protocols like monitoring channels before transmission, using correct language codes and procedures, and practicing good radio etiquette, sailors can enhance their ability to communicate effectively while out at sea.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about “Ensuring Safe Navigation: Preventing Collisions,” let us now delve into strategies beyond communication that can help sailors navigate safely and avoid potential accidents.

Ensuring Safe Navigation: Preventing Collisions

Having explored the importance of effective VHF radio communication in sailing, let us now shift our focus to another vital aspect of island sailing—ensuring safe navigation by preventing collisions. To illustrate this point, imagine a scenario where two sailboats are approaching each other on intersecting courses near an island. Without proper knowledge and adherence to sailing rules and etiquette, such situations can lead to dangerous outcomes.

Case Study:
Consider Sailboat A and Sailboat B, both navigating through narrow waters surrounding an island. As they approach each other from different directions, it becomes crucial for both vessels to understand their responsibilities and act accordingly to prevent a collision. This case study exemplifies the significance of following established navigation rules while sailing around islands.

To ensure safe navigation and minimize the risk of accidents during island sailing, sailors must keep the following points in mind:

  1. Maintain situational awareness:

    • Regularly scan your surroundings using visual aids like binoculars or radar.
    • Stay updated about local navigational hazards and any changes in weather conditions.
  2. Adhere to right-of-way rules:

    • Familiarize yourself with international maritime laws concerning vessel traffic separation schemes (VTSS) if applicable.
    • Respect buoyage systems denoting channels, restricted areas, or no-go zones.
  3. Communicate effectively:

    • Utilize VHF radios for relaying important information such as intention to pass port-to-port or starboard-to-starboard.
    • Respond promptly to nearby vessels seeking communication or indicating their intentions.
  4. Practice defensive sailing techniques:

    • Assume that not all boaters are aware of the rules; anticipate potential risks and take necessary actions well in advance.
    • Keep a lookout for small craft or kayakers who may be less visible or inexperienced.

Table: Commonly Recognized Buoyage Systems

System Color Meaning
IALA Region A Red and Keep the red buoys on your right when entering
green a harbor
IALA Region B Green and Keep the green buoys on your left when
red entering a harbor

By following these guidelines, sailors can navigate around islands safely while minimizing any potential risks. Understanding and adhering to navigation rules are essential for maintaining order and ensuring the safety of all vessels involved in island sailing activities.

With a solid foundation in understanding safe navigation practices, let us now delve into another crucial aspect of island sailing—knowing the rules of right-of-way. This knowledge will further enhance our ability to navigate effectively through congested waters without compromising safety.

Knowing the Rules of Right of Way

Understanding and adhering to these regulations is paramount for maintaining order and preventing collisions while enjoying a peaceful island sailing experience.


To illustrate the significance of following the rules of right of way, consider this hypothetical scenario: Two sailboats are approaching each other on intersecting courses near an island. Boat A, which has a starboard tack (wind coming from the right side), expects Boat B to yield as per the established hierarchy. However, Boat B fails to recognize this rule and continues on its present course without altering its speed or direction. The lack of understanding by Boat B results in a close call, increasing the risk of collision and compromising both vessels’ safety.

Rules of Right of Way:

It is essential for sailors to familiarize themselves with the specific guidelines governing right-of-way situations at sea. Here are some key principles to keep in mind:

  • Stand-on Vessel: The stand-on vessel maintains its course and speed while expecting other boats to give way.
  • Give-way Vessel: The give-way vessel should alter its course or speed to avoid crossing paths or potentially colliding with the stand-on vessel.
  • Crossing Situation: When two sailboats approach each other head-on or nearly so, one boat will be considered the give-way vessel based on their relative wind positions.
  • Overtaking Rule: If you plan to overtake another sailboat, it is your responsibility not only to maintain sufficient distance but also ensure that overtaking occurs safely and with adequate communication between both parties.

Table – Emotional Impact Factors:

Factor Description Example
Anticipation Eagerly awaiting serene moments amidst picturesque views Gazing at the sunset over calm waters
Safety Ensuring the well-being of oneself and fellow sailors Wearing life jackets during rough seas
Serenity Immersing in the tranquility offered by island sailing Listening to the gentle lapping of waves
Cooperation Collaborating with other sailors for a harmonious experience Sharing tips and experiences with others

By understanding and adhering to these rules, sailors can ensure a safe and enjoyable sailing experience. In our next section, we will explore another crucial aspect of sailing etiquette: the importance of proper use of navigation lights. By implementing these guidelines, sailors can enhance both their safety on the water and their ability to navigate effectively

Importance of Proper Use of Navigation Lights

Section H2: Knowing the Rules of Right of Way

Building upon our understanding of right-of-way rules, it is essential to explore another crucial aspect of sailing etiquette and safety – the proper use of navigation lights. By adhering to these rules, sailors can ensure a smooth and safe experience while navigating through waters.

Paragraph 1: To illustrate the significance of using navigation lights correctly, let us consider a hypothetical situation. Imagine two sailboats approaching each other on a moonless night in an area with heavy maritime traffic. One boat has its navigation lights properly lit, indicating its position and direction, while the other neglects this important practice. The boat without visible lights fails to communicate its presence and intentions effectively, leading to confusion and increasing the risk of collision between both vessels. This scenario emphasizes the critical role that navigation lights play in ensuring safety at sea.

  • Proper use of navigation lights enhances visibility and enables clear communication between vessels.
  • Navigation lights are especially vital during limited visibility conditions such as fog or darkness.
  • Ignoring or improperly using navigation lights can lead to accidents, collisions, or navigational errors.
  • Following international regulations for displaying navigation lights is necessary for responsible seamanship.
Importance of Proper Use of Navigation Lights
Enhances vessel visibility
Ensures effective communication
Mitigates risks
Complies with international regulations

Paragraph 2: Vessels equipped with appropriate navigation lighting systems send out signals that enable others to determine their size, type, direction of travel, and status (such as whether they are underway or anchored). These visual cues facilitate decision-making regarding route planning and avoiding potential hazards. Furthermore, by employing correct lighting techniques consistently, sailors demonstrate respect for fellow mariners’ safety and contribute to overall harmonious coexistence on the water.

Paragraph 3: Understanding how to utilize navigation lights appropriately is an integral part of responsible sailing. By adhering to these practices, sailors not only ensure their own safety but also contribute to the well-being and security of others navigating nearby waters.

Transitioning seamlessly from navigation lights, let us now explore the importance of following proper anchoring procedures for a secure and stable experience at sea.

Proper Anchoring Procedures for Safety

Having understood the significance of using navigation lights properly, it is equally important to be aware of proper anchoring procedures while sailing. A hypothetical scenario can help illustrate this point. Imagine a sailor, let’s call him John, who decides to anchor his sailboat near an uninhabited island for a day trip.


John drops his anchor without considering its weight or suitability for the seabed conditions. As he explores the island, a sudden gust of wind picks up, causing his boat to drag anchor and drift towards shallow waters. This not only damages the fragile marine ecosystem but also puts John’s boat at risk of running aground.

To prevent such mishaps and ensure safety when anchoring your vessel, keep in mind these essential guidelines:

  • Choose an appropriate anchor according to your boat size and type.
  • Familiarize yourself with different types of seabeds (e.g., sand, mud, rock) as they require specific anchors.
  • Drop the anchor slowly to allow it to set securely before applying reverse engine thrust.
  • Always use sufficient scope by letting out enough chain or rope length to maintain good holding power.
Anchor Type Suitable Seabed Conditions
Fluke Anchor Sand and Mud
Plow Anchor All Seabed Types
Claw Anchor Rocky Seabed

The consequences of incorrect anchoring can range from environmental damage to personal risks. Consider the following:

  • Damage caused by dragging anchors includes destruction of coral reefs and seagrass beds.
  • Improperly anchored boats may collide with other vessels nearby during strong winds or tidal changes.
  • The risk of boats running aground increases if anchors are not set securely.
  • Inadequate scope may lead to dragging anchors and potential collisions with underwater structures.

Transition into the subsequent section about “Essential Safety Equipment on Board”:

To ensure a safe sailing experience, it is crucial to be equipped with the necessary safety gear while onboard. By having these items readily available, you can effectively respond to emergencies and protect yourself and your vessel from harm.

Essential Safety Equipment on Board

Having covered the Proper Anchoring Procedures necessary for safety, it is now essential to understand the equipment that should be on board when embarking on an island sailing adventure. By ensuring that you have the right safety equipment readily available, you can confidently navigate through any unforeseen circumstances that may arise during your journey.

Section – Essential Safety Equipment on Board

To emphasize the importance of having appropriate safety equipment, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. Imagine you are sailing near a remote island and suddenly encounter rough weather conditions, causing your vessel to capsize. In this distressing situation, having well-maintained safety gear can make all the difference between life and death.

It is crucial to equip your boat with the following items:

  • Life Jackets: Ensure every passenger has access to properly fitting life jackets, approved by relevant authorities.
  • Emergency Flares: Have a sufficient number of flares onboard to signal for help in case of emergency situations or when visibility is limited.
  • First Aid Kit: Keep a fully stocked first aid kit easily accessible, including bandages, antiseptic solutions, pain relief medications, and other essentials.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Carry at least one fire extinguisher suitable for marine use to combat potential fires aboard your vessel.

Remember that accidents can happen unexpectedly, so being prepared with these essential safety supplies enhances both personal and crew safety while out at sea.

Item Purpose Importance
Life Jackets Ensures flotation & buoyancy Crucial
Emergency Flares Signals for help Critical
First Aid Kit Provides initial medical assistance Vital
Fire Extinguisher Combats onboard fires Essential

This table highlights the significance of each item in terms of its purpose and overall importance. Incorporating safety equipment like life jackets, emergency flares, a first aid kit, and fire extinguishers into your sailing routine can greatly enhance the overall safety of your voyage.

In preparation for any unexpected events at sea, maintaining clear communication channels becomes an imperative aspect. By establishing effective means of communication onboard, you can ensure seamless coordination among crew members and expedite response times during emergencies.

Maintaining Clear Communication Channels

Section Title: Navigating in Restricted Visibility

Having established the importance of Essential Safety Equipment on board, we now turn our attention to maintaining clear communication channels while sailing. However, it is equally crucial for sailors to possess knowledge and skills in navigating through challenging conditions such as restricted visibility. Let us explore some guidelines to ensure safe passage when faced with limited sight.

Imagine you are sailing towards an unfamiliar island, and suddenly a dense fog envelops your vessel. In this scenario, knowing how to navigate effectively becomes imperative for ensuring both personal safety and respecting other sailors’ presence. When encountering restricted visibility conditions, consider the following tips:

  1. Reduce speed: Slowing down allows more time to react if any obstacles or other vessels emerge unexpectedly. It also minimizes the risk of collisions by giving nearby boats sufficient reaction time.

  2. Use navigation aids: Relying on navigational instruments such as GPS devices, radar systems, depth sounders, and compasses can provide vital information regarding your position relative to potential hazards or landmarks.

  3. Sound signals: Utilize appropriate audible warnings like horns or bells at regular intervals to alert nearby vessels of your presence and intentions. Familiarize yourself with standard maritime whistle signals that indicate different types of maneuvers or emergencies.

  4. Maintain a proper lookout: Assign crew members specific areas of responsibility for keeping watch during restricted visibility periods. This ensures all-around vigilance against sudden obstructions while allowing others to focus on navigation tasks.

To illustrate further, let’s consider a hypothetical situation where a sailboat encounters heavy fog near an island without adequate navigation tools or adherence to proper protocols:

Scenario Actions Taken Potential Consequences
Insufficient use of navigational aids Relying solely on intuition instead of radar or GPS systems Increased risk of collision with unseen obstacles or other vessels
Neglecting to sound signals Failing to alert nearby boats of your presence and intentions Increased likelihood of accidents due to lack of communication
Inadequate lookout duty allocation No specific crew members assigned for watchkeeping duties during restricted visibility Higher chances of collision as no one is actively monitoring the surroundings

Navigating through challenging conditions necessitates adherence to established practices, ensuring safety for all sailors involved. By reducing speed, utilizing navigation aids effectively, sounding appropriate signals, and maintaining a proper lookout, sailors can mitigate risks in situations with limited sight.

Transition into subsequent section:

Moving forward, let us delve into navigating in restricted visibility by exploring techniques that enable safe passage even when visual cues are compromised.

Navigating in Restricted Visibility

Transitioning from the importance of maintaining clear communication channels while sailing, it is crucial to also understand how to navigate in situations where visibility becomes restricted. Whether due to heavy fog, rain, or darkness, these conditions can pose significant challenges and require a heightened sense of awareness and adherence to proper sailing etiquette.

Consider a hypothetical scenario where you are sailing near an island during dusk when thick fog suddenly engulfs your surroundings. In such circumstances, it becomes vital to rely on navigational tools and techniques specifically designed for restricted visibility. By understanding and following the rules outlined below, sailors can ensure their safety as well as respect the rights of other vessels sharing the waters:

  1. Utilize radar systems: Radar technology plays a key role in navigating through restricted visibility. By accurately detecting nearby vessels or obstacles that may not be visible with naked eyes alone, sailors can make informed decisions about their course of action.
  2. Use sound signals: Sound signals act as an audible means of communication between vessels in low-visibility environments. Familiarizing oneself with different sound signals based on specific scenarios helps maintain situational awareness and prevent potential collisions.
  3. Establish appropriate speed: Reduce your vessel’s speed when encountering limited visibility conditions. Slowing down allows for better reaction times and enhances overall control over the boat.
  4. Keep navigation lights operational: Ensure all necessary navigation lights are functioning correctly before setting sail into areas with reduced visibility. These lights help other vessels identify your position, direction, and size.

To further emphasize the significance of adhering to these guidelines while navigating in restricted visibility, consider the following table showcasing real-life incidents caused by negligence or disregard for proper procedures:

Incident Cause Consequences
Collision at sea Failure to utilize radar Vessel damage; injuries
Close encounter Lack of appropriate sound signals Near-miss situation
Grounding on shoals Excessive speed in low-visibility Vessel damage; potential environmental harm
Collision with navigation aid Inoperative or incorrect navigation lights Damage to vessel and navigational equipment

By understanding the rules of navigating in restricted visibility and acknowledging the potential consequences of disregarding them, sailors can prioritize safety while at sea. Successfully maneuvering through these challenging conditions not only protects one’s own vessel but also contributes to a harmonious sailing environment.

With a clear understanding of how to navigate in restricted visibility, it is essential to now explore strategies for avoiding dangerous maneuvers while sailing near islands.

Avoiding Dangerous Maneuvers

Transitioning from the previous section on Navigating in Restricted Visibility, it is important for sailors to also be mindful of respecting other boaters’ space while out at sea. This ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for all parties involved. Consider the following example scenario:

Imagine you are sailing through narrow channels between two islands, where several other boats are also navigating. In this situation, adhering to proper etiquette becomes crucial in order to avoid collisions or any potential harm.

To help foster respect among fellow boaters, consider the following guidelines:

  • Maintain a reasonable distance: Keep a safe amount of space between your boat and others nearby. Avoid getting too close as this may cause unnecessary anxiety or discomfort.
  • Yield right-of-way when necessary: Be aware of who has the right-of-way in specific situations such as crossing paths or overtaking another vessel. Yielding appropriately helps prevent conflicts and promotes harmony on the water.
  • Reduce speed near anchored boats: When passing anchored boats, slow down your vessel to minimize waves that could disturb their stability or potentially damage their equipment.
  • Communicate effectively: Utilize appropriate signals and communication methods (such as horn blasts or VHF radio) to convey your intentions clearly and avoid confusion with other boaters.

Emphasizing these principles can greatly contribute to creating a respectful atmosphere on the water, allowing everyone to enjoy their sailing experiences without unnecessary stress or conflict. By being considerate towards fellow boaters, we ensure safety and enjoyment for all participants.

Transition into subsequent section – ‘Respecting Other Boaters’ Space’: It is evident that maintaining proper etiquette while sailing not only enhances safety but also fosters positive relationships among boaters. Moving forward, let us explore further ways we can uphold mutual respect by delving into the concept of respecting other boaters’ personal boundaries.

Respecting Other Boaters’ Space

Imagine you are sailing along the crystal-clear waters of a beautiful island, enjoying the serenity and tranquility that comes with being at sea. Suddenly, another boat appears on the horizon, heading towards you at high speed. You quickly find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation where respecting other boaters’ space becomes crucial.

When sharing waterways with fellow sailors, it is essential to adhere to proper etiquette and follow certain rules to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Maintain a safe distance: Always maintain a reasonable distance from other boats while sailing. Give them enough room to maneuver and avoid any potential collisions or accidents. Be mindful of their course and speed, adjusting yours accordingly if necessary.

  2. Yield when appropriate: If two boats are approaching each other head-on, both should alter their course slightly to starboard (right) to pass port-side-to-port-side. However, if one vessel clearly has limited maneuverability due to its size or restricted draft, it is customary for the more agile boat to yield right-of-way.

  3. Respect anchored vessels: When passing by anchored boats, reduce your speed and create minimal wake as not to disturb those onboard or cause damage to mooring lines or anchors.

  4. Communicate effectively: Utilize standard maritime communication signals such as horn blasts or VHF radio channels (if available) to alert nearby vessels about your intentions, particularly in situations where visibility may be limited.

  • Ensuring safety for all sailors
  • Promoting harmony within the boating community
  • Preserving marine environments through responsible behavior
  • Avoiding costly damages caused by reckless maneuvers

Additionally, let us present a table highlighting common scenarios encountered while sailing and corresponding recommended actions:

Scenario Recommended Action
Approaching head-on Adjust course to starboard (right)
Limited maneuverability Yield right-of-way
Passing by anchored vessels Reduce speed and create minimal wake
Communicating intentions Utilize standard maritime signals

By adhering to these rules, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable sailing experience for all. Now, let us explore how being mindful of wildlife and marine life plays an integral role in responsible island sailing.

Being Mindful of Wildlife and Marine Life

Imagine you are sailing along the sparkling turquoise waters surrounding a peaceful island, enjoying the gentle breeze and the rhythmic sound of waves. Suddenly, another boat emerges from behind a rocky outcrop, swiftly approaching your vessel. How should you navigate this encounter in a courteous manner? Respecting other boaters’ space is crucial for ensuring an enjoyable and safe experience on the water.

Firstly, it is essential to maintain a reasonable distance between your boat and others nearby. This not only helps prevent collisions but also allows everyone to have their own space for maneuvering comfortably. For instance, if you come across a group of sailboats engaged in a regatta or race, be mindful of their course and avoid obstructing their path. By doing so, you demonstrate respect for their activity while fostering a harmonious atmosphere among fellow sailors.

To further exemplify respectful behavior towards other boaters, consider adhering to these guidelines:

  • Reduce your speed when passing by moored vessels or boats at anchor.
  • Avoid anchoring too close to another vessel unless necessary.
  • Do not create excessive wake that could disturb nearby boats or beachgoers.
  • When crossing paths with smaller craft like kayaks or paddleboards, yield right-of-way to ensure their safety.

In addition to these suggestions, let’s explore some potential scenarios where respecting other boaters’ space becomes paramount:

Scenario Proper Etiquette
Encountering fishing vessels Maintain distance; do not interfere with their lines
Passing through narrow channels Yield to oncoming traffic; wait for clearance
Approaching docks or marinas Give priority to vessels already docking
Entering crowded anchorages Allow sufficient room for other boats to drop anchor

By following these recommendations and being mindful of others sharing the waterways, we contribute to fostering a positive boating community. Remember, as sailors, we share a common passion for the sea and its wonders, so let’s navigate with respect and consideration.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about “Adhering to Environmental Protection Guidelines,” it is crucial to extend our responsibility beyond respecting other boaters’ space. By adhering to environmental protection guidelines, we can help preserve these beautiful waters for future generations to enjoy.

Adhering to Environmental Protection Guidelines

Considering the importance of preserving marine ecosystems, it is equally vital to adhere to guidelines that promote environmental protection. By following these principles while sailing, we can ensure a sustainable future for our oceans. In this section, we will explore key practices that uphold environmental conservation.

To illustrate the significance of adhering to environmental protection guidelines, let’s imagine a scenario where a group of sailors ignorantly anchors their boat near fragile coral reefs. Unaware of the damage they are causing by disturbing the delicate ecosystem, they unintentionally disrupt the natural habitat of various marine species residing in these reefs. This example highlights the need for boaters’ awareness and responsibility when navigating through ecologically sensitive areas.

In order to foster an emotional connection with nature and motivate responsible behavior among sailors, consider the following reminders:

  • Respect Restricted Areas:
    • Observe any designated no-entry zones marked for protected marine life.
    • Avoid anchoring or mooring on seagrass beds or other vulnerable habitats.
    • Be cautious around nesting sites during breeding seasons.

Table: Consequences of Irresponsible Anchoring

Responsible Anchoring Irresponsible Anchoring
1 Preserves underwater ecosystems Destroys coral reefs
2 Protects marine life habitats Disrupts natural ecological balance
3 Supports biodiversity conservation Threatens endangered species
4 Ensures sustainable ocean resources Causes irreversible damage

By acknowledging the potential consequences associated with irresponsible anchoring practices (as depicted in the table above), individuals become more aware of their impact on marine environments. Such knowledge serves as a powerful motivator towards adopting environmentally friendly sailing practices.

To further enhance environmental consciousness, sailors should also consider the following:

  • Minimizing Waste:
    • Dispose of all waste properly, including plastics and non-biodegradable materials.
    • Use eco-friendly cleaning products on board to reduce pollution.
    • Avoid throwing any garbage or fishing equipment overboard.

By incorporating these simple yet impactful adjustments into their sailing routines, individuals contribute to the overall health and sustainability of our oceans. It is through collective efforts that we can ensure a brighter future for both present and future generations of sailors.

In summary, by adhering to guidelines promoting environmental protection while sailing, one can actively contribute to preserving marine ecosystems. Through responsible anchoring practices and minimizing waste generation, sailors play an essential role in sustaining biodiversity, protecting habitats, and safeguarding the delicate balance of oceanic environments. Let us embrace these principles as we embark on our island sailing adventures.


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