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Rules of the Road

Other Rules
Whether under inland or international rules, power vessels must keep clear of sailing vessels in open waters.
A sailboat with motor running is defined as a motor boat. The "pecking order" between sailing vessels is more complex. When two sailing are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision, one of then shall keep
out of the way of each other as follows:


  • When each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which has the wind on the port side shall keep out
    of the way of the other.
  • When both have the wind on the same side, the vessel which is to windward shall keep out of the way of the vessel which is to leeward.
  • If a vessel with the wind on the port side sees a vessel to windward and cannot determine with certainty
    whether the other vessel has the wind on the port or the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of
    the other.
  • For the purposes of these rules the windward side shall be deemed to be the side opposite to that on
    which the mainsail is carried. On square-rigged vessels, it shall be deemed to be the side opposite to
    that on which the largest fore-and-aft sail is carried.