When Boats Meet on the Water
Table of Contents
Basic Rules To Remember When Two Vessels Meet
- When two vessels are approaching head on,both vessels should alter course to starboard to pass port-side to port-side.
- When two 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 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 Powerboat Meets Powerboat
- You must give way to another vessel on your starboard. (right)
- If you meet head on, both vessels must turn to starboard. (right)
When Powerboat Meets Sailboat
- 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 manouvre in the channel.
When Sailboat Meets Sailboat
- 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.
Trick to Avoid Collisions
The following is the most common technique to determine if you are on a collision course with another vessel.
- Use a line of sight from your boat to the oncoming vessel and then beyond to a fixed point on land or the horizon.
- Check to see if you are moving ahead or falling behind the other vessel relative to the fixed point.
- If the angle stays the same, then you are on a collision course and you should either "stand on" or "give way" in accordance with the "Rules of the Road" discussed above.
- If the angle changes, then you will likely avoid the other vessel if both boats maintain their same course and speed.