Fernandina Beach Fishing Rodeo
August 2, 2014
It's Time For A Weigh In !
The Navigation Rules for vessels establish actions for boaters to take to avoid a collision. The Navigation Rules are published by the U. S. Government Printing Office, and are available in any boating supply store. Every boat owner should have a copy, but it is mandatory that a copy be kept aboard all vessels over 12 meters (39.4 feet) in length.
Knowing a few simple rules will help you stay safe on the water. Since there are so many different types of boats, boating activities and styles of boating, it is important to know what to expect when you come upon another vessel and what your obligations are. The term "vessel" includes anything that floats on the water that is used, or is capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
Therefore practically everything you encounter on the water is considered a vessel and as such, must know, understand and abide by the Navigation Rules. The Navigation Rules cover steering rules akin to rules of the road, sound signaling equipment and requirements, and a section on navigation lights.
Proper and safe on-water navigation has many facets. Entire books and courses are offered on this very topic. Only the basics are presented here. To learn more take the free, online BoatUS Boating Safety Course. The most basic scenario when meeting another boat is usually going to be one of the following: a crossing situation, a head-on situation, or an overtaking situation.
The responsibilities of a boat operator are many. Basic knowledge is just that. You should strive to know all the requirements expected of boaters, including what to do when you encounter commercial vessels, vessels engaged in fishing and diving and law enforcement personnel. At an absolute minimum, you should always have a proper lookout, operate at a safe speed and yield or give-way to another vessel when in doubt and to always avoid a collision, even if that means breaking a Navigation Rule to save lives and property damage.