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Rules of the Road

Rule, Rule, Rule your Boat
It may seem as if you can do anything you want while you are on the water (You might also think that it looks
as if everyone else is going crazy on the water). Boating on a crowded waterway can be scary! The good news
is that there are rules to govern the action of each vessel. The bad news is that many vessel operators do not
know the rules!

Not complying with the Rules - even if you don't know them, can get you in trouble on the water. Even if you think
you are following the Rules, if there is something that you can do to avoid a collision - you must do it, even if you
deviate from a different Navigation Rule.

It is your responsibility as the ship's captain to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and to operate your
vessel in a safe manner. Caution may not be fun, but having an accident sure stinks.

The Rules state that every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing conditions to
determine if a risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt, such risk shall be deemed to exist. 

Rules Explained

The Rules are designed to tell you what to do when you operate your vessel near other vessels.
 The purpose of the Rules of the Road is to help you avoid an accident--not to establish responsibility or liability
if you get into an accident. - Remember, if you get into an accident, you can be held liable, even if you followed the
Rules to the letter!

Your primary obligation is to operate in a safe manner. Under the Rules, there is no "right-of-way" like there is on
a street. For most situations, Boats are called one of the following:

  • Give-Way Vessel - If you are the Give-Way vessel, you must act as if the "stand-on" vessel has the right to keep going the way it is going. It is your responsibility to signal your intentions to the stand-on vessel, and it is your responsibility to maneuver your boat around the other in a safe manner. Also known as a "Burdened" vessel,
    as it has the burden of.
  • Stand-On Vessel - If you are the Stand-On vessel, it is your responsibility to acknowledge the intended actions
    of the give-way vessel. You must also maintain your current course and speed until the give-way vessel passes, or you enter a dangerous situation.