The Basic Rules Of Boating

As with most sports and activities requiring heavy machinery, boating has a distinct set of rules that should be followed at all times. Some of these rules are not official and more along the lines of polite behaviour. Regardless of how you view it, they are meant to be followed when you are out on the water.

Before You Untie The Knots

Consider the process followed when driving on the road. Certain rules need to be followed and certain practices have become a common practice of respect amongst drivers. The same can be said for boating. You need to understand the rules of the road before heading off on your journey.

  • The first thing worth knowing is that when two boats appear to be coming at one another head-on, both boats need to turn starboard and pass port-to-port. This prevents a possible collision.
  • A sailboat using its sail has right of way over a powerboat. If the sailboat is using its engine, it is deemed to be a powerboat. Human-powered boats have right of way over any other maritime vessel.
  • In the case where you are being overtaken, you need to maintain your speed and course. If that puts you or anyone else in harm’s way, slow down until the other boat has come past you.
  • Vessels approaching from the right are known as stand-on vessels and should be accommodated. Vessels that are unable to manoeuvre easily are also known as stand-on vessels.
  • Follow the setup of other boats when in an anchorage. This means copying their tie-off, amount of line used, and distance between boats.
  • Be mindful of swimmers when passing by an anchorage and always follow the harbour speed limit.
  • Do not throw your garbage overboard – even if it is organic. No one wants to swim with your old banana peel. And under no circumstances should any form of plastic be thrown into the water and left there.
  • Offer help if you can and accept the fact that not everyone will take you up on that offer. Law requires you to help vessels in distress if it does not endanger you or your vessel.
  • VHF channel 16 on the radio is for distress calls and hailing, it is not for chatting with other boaters. If you have reached another vessel and would like to talk about your wins or other news, move to a different channel.
  • A Mayday is the most serious distress call you can make and should only be used if you are in immediate danger. Running out of gas is not a Mayday-type emergency, rather contact the coastguard for assistance.
  • Life jackets and vests should be on board at all times as well as a first aid kit for potential boating injuries.

These simple rules are merely a drop in the ocean that is the world of boating. Make sure that you do your research before heading out and ensure that you have the relevant permits and licenses with you when choosing to do so.

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