Saturday, July 27, 2013

The 'Rules of the Road' When Boating at Sea

Learning to pilot a boat can be similar to learning to drive. On top of learning how to manoeuvre the boat yourself, you also need to learn about the other people who will be using the same sea space to avoid collisions. While there are several rules you need to remember, these should become second nature once you’ve spent long enough on the water around other boats.

Your boat skipper, whether that’s you or someone else, is ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone on your boat, which means also taking into account the movements of other boats on the same stretch of water as you to avoid a collision.

Boats have a ‘right of way’, and are referred to as the ‘Stand On’ and the ‘Give Way’. Here, the ‘Stand On’ boat must maintain its speed and course, while the ‘Give Way’ boat should take action to avoid a collision. The general rule is that ‘Power gives way to sail’, meaning that generally speaking, sailboats must be given clear passage by powerboats, which should act to move out of the way, and should ideally keep out of the way of the yacht completely.

However, different rules apply to determine who should give way in situations where two powerboats are sharing the same space. When two powerboats are approaching one another head on, they should pass port to port. Keep to the starboard side of the channel you are passing through, Other boat traffic in canals and rivers will do the same to avoid any confusion.

Author byline:
Colin Bell is an amateur boating enthusiast who regularly blogs about staying safe on the seas.

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