Boating Basics Online - Basic Boating Safety Course
Chapter 6 - Operations

Navigation Rules

Meeting Situations

In the following situations, the give-way vessel must take action to keep well clear. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed. If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, you should take action to avoid collision.

Meeting Head-On

When two power driven vessels are approaching head-on or nearly so, either vessel shall indicate its intent which the other vessel shall answer promptly. In a meeting situation, neither vessel is the stand-on vessel.

It is generally accepted that you should alter course to starboard and pass port-to-port. The accompanying sound signal is one short blast. If you cannot pass port-to-port due to an obstruction or other vessels, you should sound two short blasts to indicate your intention to pass starboard-to-starboard. Make sure the other vessel understands your intent before proceeding. The other vessel should return your two-short-blast signal.

Passing Port to Port

Meeting head on.

Passing Starboard to Starboard

Passing starboard to starboard

Meeting head to Head

Meeting head to head.

*Response not sounded on International Waters

Overtaking

When two vessels are moving in the same direction, and the astern vessel wishes to pass, it must initiate the signal to pass as shown in the diagram. The vessel passing is the give-way vessel and should keep out of the way of the vessel being passed. The vessel being passed is the stand-on vessel and must maintain its course and speed. If the stand-on vessel realizes that the course intended by the give-way vessel is not safe, it should sound the danger or doubt signal.

A vessel is deemed to be overtaking when the vessel is approaching the vessel ahead in a direction of 22.5 degrees abaft her beam. At night you would only be able to see the stern light of the vessel being overtaken. You would not be able to see either sidelight.

Inland Rules

"I intend to pass you on your port side"
2 short blasts (1 sec.)

"Agreement"
2 short blasts (1 sec.)

International Rules:

"I intend to pass you on your port side"
2 prolonged blasts/2 short

"Agreement"
1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

Overtaking Inland Rules

"I intend to pass you on your starboard side"
1 short blast (1 sec.)

"Agreement"
1 short blast (1 sec.)

International Rules:

"I intend to pass you on your starboard side"
2 prolonged blasts/1 short

"Agreement"
1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

If you are the overtaking vessel, remember that you are the give-way vessel until well past, and safely clear of, the passed vessel. Do not cut in front, impede or endanger another vessel.

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