Boat Insurance Magazine

Boat Rules You Need To Be Aware Of

When sailing a boat, it is important to ensure you are aware of the basic boating rules at all times, and have insurance in case an accident does occur. This can help you to avoid any potential incidents and make for smoother sailing! Rules apply to boats sailing on the water in the exact same way that they apply to cars driving on the road and they apply to all boat types, so learning them properly can help to avoid any potential collision or dispute. Below is our guide to the basic boat rules which all sailers should be well aware of before setting out on the water:

Rules To Remember When Meeting Another Vessel

  • Every vessel attempting to overtake another should keep well away from the original vessel in order to avoid any collisions.
  • If a give-way vessel has a power-driven vessel to the left which does not attempt to give way or change course, the Skipper is required to take immediate action by altering course. This can help to avoid any potential collisions.
  • When two power vessels are approaching one another directly they should pass port side to port side by directing themselves to the right. They should not attempt to veer to the left or continue to approach one another head on as this can cause a collision.
  • When two power driven vessels are in crossing situations on a collision course, the give way vessel is required to take immediate action to avoid this. This can be done through heading to the right or stopping altogether, not veering to the left or majorly altering course.


Rules For Channels And Harbours

  • All vessels are required to drive on the right of any channel at all times. Failure to do so can cause a collision and panic other sailers.
  • If you are inside the harbour, you are required to remain out of the way of any boat weighing over 500 tonnes, which is approximately 50 metres in length. If this procedure is not followed, the smaller boat will be at risk of being damaged and colliding with the bigger vessel which may not be able to manoeuvre as easily.
  • Never create wakes which could cause danger for other boats or people.
  • Do not anchor in a channel.
  • Smaller crafts are always required to keep out of the way of larger vessels which must maintain passage and steering within the channel in order to avoid any potential accidents.

Boat Rules You Need To Be Aware Of

When Power Vessels Meet Sail Boats

  • Power vessels always have to give way to sail, unless the sailing vessel is the one which is overtaking.
  • Sailing vessels must avoid sailing in narrow channels and are required to give way to power vessels which are restricted when they are in the channel as they cannot manoeuvre easily. Failure to do so can cause a collision and confuse other sailers.


When Power Vessels Meet Power

  • When power vessels meet, they are both required to give way to the vessel on the right.
  • If they are coming at one another head on, they must both turn to the right. They should never veer to the left or change course completely, but they are permitted to stop altogether in order to let the other vehicle pass safely without causing an accident.


If Something Is Not Going To Plan

  • If the vessel which is supposed to give way is not doing so, the stand on vessel is then required to take evasive action. In this case, the vessel must turn towards the right without altering course to port as this could lead the boat directly into the way of the oncoming vessel. Evasive action should mean that there is no collision between the vehicles and that they can bypass one another safely.