Boating Rules

There are rules that apply to boats on the water, just like cars on the road. It's important to learn these rules to avoid collision and maintain your safety and the safety of others on the water. This sea yarn is a fun and easy way to help you remember the rules of the road at sea.


Rules to remember when two vessels meet

When two power vessels are approaching head on,both vessels should alter course to starboard to pass port-side to port-side.
When two power-driven vessels are in crossing situation on a collision course, give way to the vessel to starboard (right).The give way vessel must take early and obvious action to avoid a collision by either stopping or altering course to starboard.
If the give way vessel has another power-driven vessel from the Port (left) which does not take obvious action to give way, or alter course to starboard, then the Skipper of give-way (stand on) vessel must take evasive action by either stopping, or again, altering course to starboard.
Every vessel (power or sail) that is overtaking must keep well clear of the over taking vessel. You are overtaking if you are approaching another vessel anywhere in a 135 degree sector at its stern.

Channels and harbours

All vessels must keep to the starboard (right) side of any channel.
Inside a harbour (normally shown on the pilotage limit on the chart) you must keep out of the way of any ship over 500 tons. (which is about 50 metres in length)
Do not create a wake which causes unnecessary danger to other vessels or people.
You must not anchor in a channel.
All small craft must keep out of the way of larger vessels which are restricted by their draft to maintain passage and steering within the channel.

When power meets power

You must give way to another vessel on your starboard. (right)
If you meet head on, both vessels must turn to starboard. (right)

When power meets sail

Power gives way to sail unless the sailing vessel is overtaking.
Sailing vessels should avoid sailing in a narrow channel. They have to give way to power-driven vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre in the channel.

When sail meets sail

The vessel which has the wind on its starboard (right) side has the right of way. The vessel which has the wind on its port (left) side must give way.
When both boats have the wind on the same side the windward (upwind) boat has to give way.

When things go wrong

If the give way vessel does not appear to be giving way, the stand on vessel must take evasive action and should turn to starboard (right). Do not alter course to port, it could place you into the path of the give way vessel.