Rules of the Road

There are some basic rules to follow when determining who has the “Right Of Way” on the water. A boat that does not have the right of way, and is therefore required to give way, should do so early. The boat should also make the manoeuvres large enough so that the manoeuvres are easily seen by other boaters.

Pleasure craft (Power or Sail) of less than 20 m. (66 ft.) in length shall not impede the passage of other boats which can safely navigate only within a narrow range and shall not impede the safe passage of a power driven vessel that is following a traffic lane. In narrow channels, keep as close as possible to the starboard side. When possible, keep clear of shipping lanes. Power boats must give way to less manoeuvrable boats, (large vessels are often restricted in their ability to manoeuvre in a narrow channel). They may also not be able to see small vessels operating ahead of them, such as sailboats, commercial fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and paddle craft. A good safety measure is to navigate in groups when possible. Always use extra caution when in or near vessel traffic lanes. You should also stay well clear of ferries, whether docked or moving.

Large ships usually sound a horn (one prolonged blast) to indicate departing a dock, so it is important to be listening for horn signals as well as keeping a lookout. Note that some ferries run on submerged cables and may have submerged cables either front or back. Ferries whether docked or moving should be avoided.

All pleasure craft (Sail or Power) shall take early and adequate action to keep well clear of boats they are overtaking. The overtaking boat can pass on either side, but passing on the Port side of the boat being overtaken is recommended.

When two motorboats are on a reciprocal course and in danger of colliding, each motorboat must alter its course to Starboard and therefore pass on the Port side of the other boat.

When a motorboat that is crossing has other motorboats on its Starboard side, it shall take early and adequate action to keep well clear of these boats and shall, if circumstances permit, avoid crossing ahead of them. Whenever possible, you should try to alter course to Starboard, which is the preferred manoeuvre to give way.

Operators of power pleasure craft shall take early and substantial action to keep well clear of a vessel engaged in commercial fishing or a sailing vessel.

Operators of sailing pleasure craft shall take early and substantial action to keep well clear of a vessel engaged in commercial fishing.