The Imaginary Line

On the water there are no lanes to indicate which side of the channel you should be. This can result in Skippers not realising they should be keeping to the right side (starboard) of the river/channel.

Of the two major boating fatalities on Sydney Harbour over recent times, involving both, commercial Skippers and experienced recreational Skippers, one of the key contributors highlighted by the coroner, was not keeping to the right side of the channel.

Using our imaginary line concept, here’s how we explain to our students what they can do to ensure they position themselves RIGHT on the waterways.


  • Look over the area of water that you are operating in and then place an imaginary dotted line down the middle.
  • Keep to the starboard (right) of the imaginary centred dotted line.
  • Keep a proper lookout – forward, from the stern (back/behind), starboard (right and port (left).
  • Don’t forget the other side belongs to vessels travelling in the opposite direction.


The National Maritime College (NMC) is a Registered Training Organisation providing competency-based boat training and education. The College offers boat licence and jet ski (PWC) licence courses and tests designed to improve boating skills and awareness. You can expect friendly and professional training from from us. It is the "personal touch" and dedication to improving safety on the water whilst instilling - confidence, knowledge and good boat handling skills that sets us apart.

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