Study Topics
Boats in Action Section Quiz Site Map
Rules of the Road

Operator Responsibilities

In addition to the Rules, you have other responsibilities as the captain as well. You are responsible for the safety of everyone aboard your vessel at all times--and you have a responsibility to those with whom you are sharing the water. 

  • You must always operate at a safe controlled speed for the situation in which you are boating, and any
    legally mandated speed requirements that there may be, such as a slow/no wake zone.
  • Take care to avoid careless, reckless or negligent boat operations--such as operating too closely to
    other vessels, boating under the influence, or operating at an unsafe speed for the given conditions.
  • Steer clear of naval vessels, and other restricted facilities such as bridges, power plants and dams. 
    New Homeland security measures require it, as does your safety! For more information, see the
    Homeland Security pages.
Finally, as a boater, you have a responsibility to all other boaters--and all others who enjoy the water--to be
courteous and respectful of others. This means that you should always watch your boat noise (a legal requirement) avoid congested waters as much as possible, avoid disturbing wildlife and sea grasses, and look out for the safety
and well being of other boaters by giving a hand to those in need.

The Pecking Order

There is a "pecking order" that can be used as a simplified memory aid to determine right of way for vessels
of different types. Get very familiar with this list, as it is important to understand it thoroughly. The lower most
vessel on the list is the give way vessel, and must stay out of the way of vessels that are higher on the list:

Overtaken vessel (top priority)

  • Vessels not under command
  • Vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver
  • Vessels constrained by draft
  • Fishing vessels engaged in fishing, with gear deployed
  • Sailing vessels
  • Power driven vessels