Rules of the Road

When Boats Meet on the Water

Table of Contents

Basic Rules To Remember When Two Vessels Meet

Channels and Harbours

When Powerboat Meets Powerboat

When Powerboat Meets Sailboat

When Sailboat Meets Sailboat

When Things Go Wrong

Trick to Avoid Collisions

The following is the most common technique to determine if you are on a collision course with another vessel.

  1. Use a line of sight from your boat to the oncoming vessel and then beyond to a fixed point on land or the horizon.
  2. Check to see if you are moving ahead or falling behind the other vessel relative to the fixed point.
  3. 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.
  4. If the angle changes, then you will likely avoid the other vessel if both boats maintain their same course and speed.