Boating Simulator Mission Feedback

During operation of the BoatUS Boating Simulator, you may have encountered scenarios which resulted in points being deducted from your total score. Depending on the situation, points are deducted until you take corrective action or you have righted the situation. More information on each of the topics that resulted in point deductions can be found below and by visiting the BoatUS Foundation's Boaters Toolbox. Links to each of the topics are provided below.

BoatUS encourages everyone to take a boating safety course in a traditional classroom setting or an equivalent online distance learning course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

Aids to Navigation

Navigation Aids: Aids to Navigation (or ATONs) are objects used by mariners to determine position or safe course. It is safest to plot your course using an up-to-date nautical chart and to track your progress as you go, especially if you are unfamiliar with the region. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on charting a course.

Buoy Color and Sounds: Red buoys indicate the right side of the channel and green buoys indicate the left when coming from the open sea or going upstream. Some navigation aids have an audible sound signal such as a gong or bell to help further distinguish it. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on ATON shapes, lights and sounds.

Channel Marks: Each time you improperly pass an aid to navigation indicating a channel, you run the risk of running aground or hitting an underwater object. If you find yourself on sea grass or coral, be careful to cause no damage to the sea-floor because fines may apply. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on grounding situations.

Grounding Situations: If you find yourself aground, stay with the boat, put on your life jackets and check for leaks. Setting an anchor and retrieving it, or shifting crew weight may help free the boat. If lives are at risk call the Coast Guard on Channel 16. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on un-grounding.


Navigation Rules

Give-Way Vessel: When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel on the left is the give-way vessel and shall keep out of the way of the other. If vessels meet head-on, both are give-way vessels and both should steer to starboard (right). Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on "rules of the road".

Stand-On Vessel: When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel on the right is the stand-on vessel and should maintain course and speed allowing the give-way vessel on the left to alter course. If the vessels meet head-on, both are give-way vessels. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on vessels meeting.

Overtaking Vessel: A vessel overtaking another shall keep clear of the vessel being overtaken. The vessel being overtaken should hold course and speed to allow the other to pass safely. The overtaking boat may pass to either side as long as it is at a safe speed and distance. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on overtaking.

Hierarchy of Rules: In general, recreational power vessels must keep clear of sailing vessels. The Navigation Rules identify vessel types starting with least maneuverable to most maneuverable. The vessel highest on the list, when compared to another, is the stand-on vessel. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on the hierarchy of rules.

Safe Speed: The Navigation Rules dictate that every vessel must proceed at a safe speed at all times. Safe speed depends on traffic density, the state of visibility and your vessel's maneuverability. Consider also wind, sea state and your proximity to other objects. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on collision avoidance rules.

No Wake Zones: No-wake zones are typically indicated by white regulatory buoys with orange writing. Operate at the posted limit, typically 5 knots (6 miles per hour) or a speed which creates minimal or no wake but maintains enough headway for steerage. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on regulatory marks, no-wake zones and operator responsibility.

Speed Zones: Enforcement officers have the authority to stop any vessel for unsafe operation if they deem your speed was too fast for prevailing conditions, such as in a congested waterway or during times of limited visibility. Remember, you are responsible for your wake. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on safe speed.


Hazardous Situations

Naval Protection Zones: You must operate at no-wake speed within 500 yards of any U.S. naval vessel and may not approach within 100 yards of any naval vessel unless you have contacted the commanding officer or Coast Guard on VHF radio Channel 16. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on Naval Vessel Protection Zones and America's Waterway Watch.

Proper Lookout: Every vessel must maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing at all times. Use all tools at your disposal, such as binoculars, your VHF radio and radar, if you have one. Collision avoidance rules apply to all vessels in all conditions of visibility. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on proper lookout and VHF radio communications.

Collision Avoidance: The Navigation Rules require you to take any action to avoid a collision, even if it means breaking a rule. You should avoid last minute changes in course, and you should avoid a series of small, potentially confusing course changes. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on collision avoidance rules.

Bridge Clearance: When in doubt about the passage under a bridge, consult your nautical chart. Your chart will indicate the safe horizontal width and safe vertical clearance, which is the height in feet above Mean High Water (the minimum required height to pass). Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on bridges, locks and dams.

Constant Bearing: When the distance between two vessels decreases and the relative angle to the other vessel remains the same, the possibility of a collision exists. This situation is called a constant bearing and you should change course, even if you are the stand-on vessel. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide to learn more about compass readings and constant bearings.

Swimming Hazards: Designated swim areas are typically indicated by white buoys or regulatory marks with orange and black lettering. Never leave the boat's engine running while swimmers are in the water. Propellers can be deadly and so can carbon monoxide (CO) fumes. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on how to avoid injuries on the water.

Trip Planning: The best way to avoid damage to your boat is to know where you are at all times. Having an up-to-date chart is essential, and using a chart, compass and a navigation system like a global positioning system (GPS) is easy and fun once you learn how to use them. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on trip planning.

Crew Preparation: Accident prevention starts before you leave the dock, and involves everyone aboard the vessel. The things you do to prepare you and your crew can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day out on the water. Visit the Online Boating Safety Study Guide for more information on preventing accidents.