Boating is a sophisticated art, so there will be some rules to follow when you’re out there in the waters. Most of the time, people boat in public waters, so they are likely to be surrounded by other yachts and boats.
Therefore, to ensure safety for everyone, you can never ignore the boating rules. When another vessel crosses your path, or if you’re in their way, you need to think smart and act according to your position. Here in this post, I will talk about passing a boat and all the variables attached.
It may seem simple enough, just like our daytime traffic, but steering a boat is a lot trickier than it appears. Therefore, if you know the rules, you will be safe and sound.
When your vessel comes in course with another boat, only one vessel continues its course, which means that it’s going to be either you or your fellow boat that gets to continue its direction and velocity.
So, a stand-on boat is the one that holds the privilege of continuing its course. In technical terms, you can call it the stand-on vessel.
Sides of a Vessel
Before starting with the passing rules, it’s useful to know the terminologies for the boat sides. There are two sides, of course. If you look at your boat’s front, the right side is starboard, while the left side is called the port side.
The terms’ right’ and ‘left’ would do OK for beginners, but it’s always handy if you know the technical terms because you never know when they will be needed.
Possible Scenarios of Encountering a Vessel
Passing rules apply to vessels only when they are about to get in close contact. Generally, there are three such situations:
When another vessel travels across your path, and you may reach a point at the same time.
If you’re about to meet a vessel head-on, it’s called meeting.
When you’re trying to pass or being passed by another vessel, it’s called overtaking.
Rules for Passing a Boat
The rules for boat passing depend on the type of vessel. The primary government says that the sailing vessel or a sailboat will always have the stand-on.
So, if you’re out in your Jon boat or any recreational boat for that matter, and you see a sailboat coming through, you need to give way.
So, the first rule says that a sailing vessel will have the stand-on when it comes in course with a powered boat. Moreover, commercial boats that have fishing gear dropped into the water also stand on when held against any recreational boats.
Furthermore, as I just mentioned, the passing rules depend on the boat type. We will now look at these rules by boat type. It will help you understand which idea to pass your boat on when you’re in such situations.
Rules for Motorized Boats
When your motorized boat meets another such vessel during crossing paths, there can be two conditions:
- If the other ship is on your port side, you have the right of way or stand-on.
- If the other boat is on your starboard side, then it has the right of way.
In case of a head-on, the vessels must change their course towards their respective starboard sides. Hence, their port sides will pass each other.
Since the stand-on boat will continue its course, the other vessel must take necessary action. It can either be stopping or changing course to avoid a collision.
Rules for Sailing Boats
When two sailing vessels approach head-on, only one of them will have the wind on its side. So, if you’re sitting in one of these boats and the wind is on your starboard, then you have the right of way. The other ship will need to change the course.
If you’re on the passing boat and the other boat is going in the same direction, you will have the wind on the same side. In this case, you must give way to the other boat and change course.
In this regard, it is essential for sailing boats not to go through shipping channels. Shipping channels require vessels to go at a certain speed.
So, if you’re in the queue, trying to use your right of way just because you’re a sailboat, it can’t happen because it’s difficult to give way on shipping channels.
Generic Passing Rules for All Vessels
Primarily, the passing rules depend on the vessel type. However, some general restrictions apply to every kind of vessel.
- Overtaking applies when you approach a vessel from behind within a 135-degree angle from its stern. Regardless of vessel type, it would help if you kept a safe distance from the boat.
- Always keep to the starboard side of a sipping channel or a harbor.
- If you have a smaller vessel, you should stay clear of larger ships in a port.
- In a harbor, stay clear of large ships that are more than 50 meters long or more than 500 tons.
- You cannot put your anchor down in a channel. It’s risky because a speedy vessel may not sight you at all.
- Try your best to avoid a collision if the other boat doesn’t seem to be following the rules.
Are Passing Rules Universal
Most passing rules are uniform globally. However, some of the international regulations may differ from the ones that I highlighted here.
Nevertheless, unless you’re going on international voyages, these rules may not be too important to remember. It would help to look for such rules in advance for the specific country or region you’re in.
Knowing the navigation rules and where to pass is an essential trait for a boating enthusiast. Unless you want to look like a novice in public waters, you must pay close attention to these rules. It helps in building your profile as an experienced boater.
However, it doesn’t mean that everyone will be as good as you. Therefore, be smart and do what’s needed when an uninformed boat operator shows up against you. After all, you can’t let someone else decide the repair and maintenance cost for your boat.