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Navigation Rules

There are two terms that help explain these rules.

  • Stand-on vessel: The vessel that should maintain its course and speed
  • Give-way vessel: The vessel that must take early and substantial action to avoid collision by stopping, slowing down, or changing course

Meeting Head-On

Power vs. Power: Neither vessel is the stand-on vessel. Both vessels should keep to the starboard (right).
Power vs. Sail: The powerboat is the give-way vessel. The sailboat is the stand-on vessel.

Both vessels giving way to the right

Power vs. power meeting head-on

Powerboat giving way to (going right of) the sailboat

Power vs. sail meeting head-on

Crossing Situations

Power vs. Power: The vessel on the operator's port (left) side is the give-way vessel. The vessel on the operator's starboard (right) side is the stand-on vessel.
Power vs. Sail: The powerboat is the give-way vessel. The sailboat is the stand-on vessel.

Powerboat on the port (left) gives way to the vessel on the starboard (right)

Power vs. power in a crossing situation

Powerboat gives way to the sailboat

Power vs. sail in a crossing situation

Overtaking

Power vs. Power: The vessel that is overtaking another vessel is the give-way vessel. The vessel being overtaken is the stand-on vessel.
Power vs. Sail: The vessel that is overtaking another vessel is the give-way vessel. The vessel being overtaken is the stand-on vessel.

Powerboat giving way while overtaking another vessel

Power vs. power overtaking

Powerboat giving way while overtaking sailboat

Power vs. sail overtaking

A Vessel's Danger Zone

One way to remember who has the right-of-way in a crossing situation is to think about your vessel’s danger zone. This zone covers the area from straight ahead of your vessel to the point that is 22.5 degrees beyond the middle of the vessel on the starboard (right) side (the same area covered by your green sidelight). A vessel in your danger zone is the stand-on vessel.

vessel's danger zone

A vessel's danger zone