Monday, May 20, 2024

Boating Rules Of The Road

Is That Boat Gonna Ram Into Mine

Power Boat Rules of the Road

How can you tell? Easy! . Say you see a boat seemingly coming towards yours at an angle, and you see it just forward of your starboard stay Check again 2 to 3 minutes later. Three things can have happened:

That’s it, folks. That’s all you need to know for safe chartering!

Disclaimer: This article is for information only. Sailonline’s and/or the author’s responsibility cannot be engaged under any circumstances.

*Picture by Tom Lochhaas

The Long Offseason Can Make Any Skipper A Bit Rusty Here Are The Rules That Will Help You Avoid A Collision

Head On: Keep right or steer to starboard. Pass port to port, like cars.

Crossing: Give way to a boat ahead and to starboard. If a boat is in your danger zone, defined as an arc measuring from zero to 112.5 degrees, alter course, slow, or stop.

Passing: When overtaking another boat, give way and steer clear.

As you encounter another vessel in motion, ask yourself two questions: Do I have priority in the pecking order? And consequentially, am I the stand-on or give-way vessel? If two vessels have equal priority, follow the examples in the illustration.

Equipment To Have On Board A Motorized Boat

The equipment you have on your boat can mean the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency situation, such as a collision or a sudden change in the weather. Essential items every boater should have on board include the following:

  • Government-approved lifejacket or floatation device of the appropriate size for each person, both adults and children on the boat.
  • Heaving line rated as buoyant measuring at least 15 metres.
  • Government-approved type A, B or C flares or a waterproof flashlight.
  • Horn or other type of audible signaling device.
  • An anchor with at least 15 metres of chain, rope or cable
  • Paddle or other device for manually propelling the boat in the event of engine failure.
  • A class 5 BC fire extinguisher.
  • First aid kit.
  • Manual water pump or bailer.

Depending upon how long you plan to be out on the water, you might also consider bringing along a supply of drinking water, sunscreen, sunscreen, a knife and waterproof matches. A change of clothing is useful if you get wet and temperatures suddenly drop.

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Rules For Different Boating Scenarios

How two boats approach each other determines which has the right of way. Position, direction and the different levels of priority for different vessels make up the majority of the rules on the water. Well get into the different types of vessel priority a little later.

When a vessel has the right of way, theyre called the stand-on or burdened vessel. If youre the stand-on vessel, you have to confirm the actions of the give-way vessel by maintaining your course and speed until you pass them or need to alter your course.

The stand-off or give-way vessel is the one that doesnt have the right of way.

What does it mean to give another vessel right of way? You must ensure they can hold their current course and speed, which may mean substantially altering your course in a way thats clear to the stand-on vessel.

For this article, were assuming you operate a power-driven vessel the rules are a little more complicated if youre sailing.

Here are some common scenarios youre likely to encounter on the water:

Which Boat Has The Right Of Way When Crossing Paths

Timeless Distress Signals

When two vessels are in a situation where they are crossing paths, its critical to know who has the right of way. The vessel that has the opposing boat coming up on its starboard side is called the give-way vessel. The boat coming in from the starboard side is called the stand-on vessel.

The stand-on vessel has the right of way, and it is up to the give-way vessel to maneuver in a way that will avoid a collision. You will know this at night if you see the red port light crossing from right to left in front of you. In that case, you are the give-way vessel and should maneuver to avoid collision.

If you see the green starboard light crossing from left to right in front of you, you are the stand-on vessel and should continue your course.

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Tips For Better Boat Safety

Its been said that peace is not found in a calmer storm, its found in a better boat. So too is peace of mind found in better boat safety. According to Transport Canada, more than 100 people are killed and many more seriously injured in boating accidents every year. And the sad reality is that most serious boating accidents can be avoided.

Licensing and Registration

If you operate or keep your boat primarily in Canadian waters, and it is propelled by a 10 hp motor or more, then you must obtain a pleasure craft licence. Such a licence is valid for 10 years and provides search and rescue personnel with critical information in the event of an emergency. To obtain a pleasure craft licence, you must apply online to Transport Canada.

Safety Requirements

Approximately 90% of pleasure craft drowning deaths are due to failure to wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device. Put simply, wearing a lifejacket is the best protection when boating.

The minimum safety requirements mandated by Transport Canada differ for types of pleasure craft, but in general, you are required to have the following safety equipment onboard:

  • Personal lifesaving devices
  • Visual signals
  • Bailers, bilge pumps, manual propelling devices, anchors
  • Navigation equipment and
  • Fire-fighting equipment .

Safety Recommendations

Before embarking on any boating journey, we recommend the following:

Right Of Way Between Different Types Of Vessels

Now that you know the basic rules of the road, well cover a few special situations you may encounter. Besides the basics of power versus non-power boat rules, theres a pecking order when it comes to the right of way different vessels and different conditions determine who is the stand-on vessel.

Heres the U.S. Coast Guard list, from the highest level of right of way to the lowest:

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What Does It Mean To Overtake Another Boat

To overtake another vessel means to approach the stern of the opposing boat and pass by on either side, continually moving forward. The boat who is overtaking is the give-way vessel and should maneuver in a way to avoid collision with the stand-on vessel.

If you were to overtake another vessel at night, you would only see the stern light of the stand-on vessel and not the red and green navigation lights. It is up to the give-way vessel to safely maneuver around the stand-on vessel. This rule even applies to a vessel thats under sail.

What Is Comdtinst 166722 Series

Two Minute Boating Quickie – Rules Of The Road

Comdtinst 16672.2 series refers to the Navigation Rules of the Road, published by the U.S. Coast Guard. Thats the official title of the document and you can request one from the U.S. Government Printing Office. You can also access the U.S. Government Printing Office on their website at

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What To Do When Meeting Another Boat Head

When approaching another vessel head-on, you should navigate your course starboard, meaning you will pass each other on the port side. If youre unsure of what these terms mean, check out the article on boating terms below.

An indicator of a head-on meeting at night is if you see both side lights, green and red, of the opposing vessel at the same time.

Related reading: Top 20 Boating Terms Every Boater Should Know

Inland Rules Vs International Rules

There are two sets of rules depending on where your boat is located. Charts can show you the demarcation line between inland waters and international waters. Most recreational boating is done in inland waters. For that reason, the rules we present in here will be inland as well.

The difference between the two can be significant. Sound signals, for instance, are very different from inland to international. If youre not familiar with both, it can be confusing and potentially dangerous.

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International Colregs Rule : Risk Of Collision

Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the smallest dinghy to an ocean going supertanker, must be able to recognise other vessels around them day or night, whatever the visibility.

They need to be able to quickly interpret what other vessels are doing, who has right of way and what action they should take to prevent a possible collision. This is not always easy, especially in crowded coastal waters and harbor.

Rule 7: Risk of Collision.

Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist. Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects. Assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar information. In determining if risk of collision exists the following considerations shall be among those taken into account: such risk shall be deemed to exist if the compass bearing of an approaching vessel does not appreciably change such risk may sometimes exist even when an appreciable bearing change is evident, particularly when approaching a very large vessel or a tow or when approaching a vessel at close range.

Rules Of The Road: A Practical Approach

Navigation  Rules of The Road (Quick Reference)

Avoid collisions and other hazards! Know the rules of the road.

Navigational rules of the road help you know what to do when you share the water with other boats, how to recognize and signal intentions, and how to avoid a collision. This seminar focuses in a practical way on helping you understand the basic rules encountered by recreational boaters during almost every boating outing and the rules most likely to apply in the local waters where you boat. It covers skipper responsibilities, general rules, and definitions, rules to avoid a collision, lights and shapes, and sound and light signals.

Rules of the Road will help you understand how to recognize local situations, the rules that apply, and the actions you should take. And be sure to read the United States Coast Guard’s Navigational Rules and Regulations Handbook for the authoritative word on all rules of the road, since – as the skipper or designated crew member – you are responsible to know the rules that apply anywhere you boat.

Rules of the Road is offered as an individual seminar or it may be taken as part of the Boat Handling course. Save by taking the whole course.

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Keeping Out Of The Way

Power-driven vessels must keep out of the way of sailing vessels, vessels engaged in fishing, vessels that are not able to manoeuvre, as well as rowing boats and other craft with restricted handling.You must take early action to keep clear of these vessels unless being overtaken by one of them.

Vessels less than 20 metres long and fishing vessels must not get in the way of larger vessels within a narrow channel.

When changing course or speed to keep out of the way of another vessel, make it clearly visible to the stand-on vessel that you have taken appropriate action.

If you are not sure what another vessel is going to do, give 5 short blasts on your whistle. If the vessel doesn’t make a clear change in course, change your course to get out of its way.

Take it with you: You can order a free, waterproof quick reference card that explains the basic rules of the road from the Transport Canada website. Search for Rules of the Road .

Boating Rules Of The Road

Remember that other boat’s crew that almost T-boned yours and then, having missed you by a few inches, waved hello at you, not even realizing they had not respected your right of way?Save yourself from, at worst, damage and, at best, from embarrassment. Read those basic Rules of the Road. They will cover most situations you will encounter in most charter areas. By the way, some rules are not real ones out of The Book, but just “play-it-safe” rules to stay out of harm’s way

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Ontario Boating Safety Tips To Avoid Accidents And Injuries


Warmer weather signals a start to the boating season in Ontario. The province offers countless lakes and rivers for recreational watercraft of all types and sizes. Even if you do not own a boat of your own, a weekend on the water can still be in your plans with boat rental companies throughout Ontario. One thing everyone venturing out for a day of boating must make a priority is staying safe and avoiding accidents. Most boating accidents and drownings could be prevented by following some simple safety rules.

How To Avoid A Collision

Learn the Complete Boating Rules of the Road and become a Smart Boater N8981DVD

Collisions between boats are all too common. The rules of the road are meant to help lessen these accidents. They can be quite serious resulting in damage, injury, and even death.

Speed is a major factor in collision avoidance. Just like in cars, reduced speed equals reduced chance of collision. You should be familiar with all the rules of the road to help you understand how to avoid a collision. There are some that are more relevant than others.

Rule 2: Due regard shall be given to all dangers of navigation and collision. This rule allows the boater to depart from the rules as necessary. That means to avoid the immediate danger of collision. Your duty above all else is to avoid collisions. That means if you have the right of way and another boat is not respecting that, give way.

Rule 4: Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout using sight and hearing. As well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances. This is to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the possible risk of collision. You need to be aware at all times of what is going on around you.

Rules 6: Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed. The speed should allow so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision. And be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. That means the following needs to be considered:

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Know Georgia Boating Laws Before Heading Out To Water

Quick boating safety quiz: Do you think it is okay to jump the wake of another boat when you are less than 100 feet away or use your personal watercraft to splash someone sitting on a dock? Guess what, it’s not and in fact, both activities are illegal. If you thought otherwise, you should definitely make an effort to learn the boating “rules of the road.” Incidents can occur quickly, and the chance of one happening increase greatly if one or either boat operator is unfamiliar with or does not follow existing boating laws, or the “rules of the road,” that govern lakes and rivers.

“Anyone born on or after January 1, 1998 is required by Georgia law to take a DNR-approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel on state waters,” said Lt. Colonel Johnny Johnson, Assistant Director of DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “If you were born before that date, you are not required by law to take the course, but we recommend that you do, ” he said. “It never hurts to get a reminder to boat safely and to brush up on boating laws, since occasionally they do change. Your efforts to stay up to date could potentially save your life or the life of someone you know.”

Other “rules of the road” for boat operation include:

The Navigation Rules For Vessels Establish Actions For Boaters To Take To Avoid A Collision The Navigation Rules Are Published By The U S Government Printing Office And Are Available In Any Boating Supply Store Every Boat Owner Should Have A Copy But It Is Mandatory That A Copy Be Kept Aboard All Vessels Over 12 Meters In Length

Knowing a few simple rules will help you stay safe on the water. Since there are so many different types of boats, boating activities and styles of boating, it is important to know what to expect when you come upon another vessel and what your obligations are. The term “vessel” includes anything that floats on the water that is used, or is capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. Therefore practically everything you encounter on the water is considered a vessel and as such, must know, understand and abide by the Navigation Rules. The Navigation Rules cover steering rules akin to rules of the road, sound signaling equipment and requirements, and a section on navigation lights.

Proper and safe on-water navigation has many facets. Entire books and courses are offered on this very topic. Only the basics are presented here. To learn more take the free, online BoatUS Boating Safety Course. The most basic scenario when meeting another boat is usually going to be one of the following: a crossing situation, a head-on situation, or an overtaking situation.

Crossing Situation

Meeting Head-On

Overtaking Situation

Aids to Navigation

Port Side Odd Numbered Aids

Starboard Side Even Numbered Aids

Regulatory Marks and Other Aids

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The Importance Of Knowing Boating Right Of Way Rules

The United States Coast Guard reported almost 4,300 recreational boat accidents in 2017. Surprisingly, most recreational boaters arent familiar with the boating rules of the road, which causes confusion and makes their boating experience less safe and more stressful. If you master even the basic principles of boat-passing rules, youll know how to behave in any situation and keep your cool.

As the captain of your vessel, its your responsibility to maintain the safety of your boat and everyone onboard. The more knowledgeable you are about how to do that such as by knowing and understanding boating right-of-way-rules and collision regulations the less you have to worry about something going wrong.

First things first a few general tips for maintaining navigational safety:

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