Rules Underway

The rules of the road at sea dictate how you operate your vessel underway in order to prevent collision. But what if no risk of collision exists, are you then free to do whatever you want when operating in the vicinity of other vessels?

The recommended safe way to operate your vessel when overtaking a slower vessel on inshore waters is to avoid rocking the other vessel. Be mindful of depth, conditions and boating traffic around you. Whilst overtaking another vessel slow down to match the speed of the over-taken vessel. As you pass abeam (to the side of) alter 45 degrees off your course to reduce your wake on the over-taken vessel. Look astern (behind) to ascertain when your wash is clear of the overtaken vessel and then accelerate back to your hull planning speed and course.


If you are overtaking a vessel under sail, if possible, overtake them well to leeward (down wind) or pass astern in a crossing situation, so you do not block their wind. NEVER under-estimate the speed of a yacht under sail. Yachts may often be in a becalmed area until a wind shift increases whereby the yacht may suddenly start moving rapidly towards you on a collision course. Watch for yachts racing, if possible give them plenty room. Observe the flag rounding mark they are heading towards so you can estimate their tacking movements.

If you find yourself unable to plot a course through the sailing fleet, be a responsible skipper, stop your vessel and let them pass.


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