Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

Encountering Other Vessels

Take Responsibility

Even though no vessel will always have the "right-of-way" over another vessel, there are some rules that every operator should follow when encountering other vessels.

It is the responsibility of both operators to take the action needed to avoid a collision. If you turn in order to avoid a vessel, make the turn large enough to be clearly noticed by the other vessel.

To prevent collisions, every operator should follow the three basic rules of navigation.

  • Practice good seamanship.
  • Keep a sharp lookout.
  • Maintain a safe speed and distance.

Encountering Vessels With Limited Maneuverability

If operating a power-driven vessel, you must give way to:

  • Any vessel not under command, such as an anchored or disabled vessel
  • Any vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver, such as a vessel towing another or laying cable, or a vessel constrained by its draft, such as a large ship in a channel or a shipping lane
  • A vessel engaged in commercial fishing
  • A sailboat under sail unless it is overtaking

If operating a vessel under sail, you must give way to:

  • Any vessel not under command
  • Any vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver
  • A vessel engaged in commercial fishing
Keep a sharp lookout.

Keep a sharp lookout when operating any vessel.