Trailering Magazine Archives - Featured Articles
Who's Right In
A Right Of Way?
Do you hold your course when faced with a fellow boater coming at you, even if you're in the right?
Here's a moment far too many
boaters have experienced: Ahead
you see another boat that clearly
must change its heading because you
have the right of way, but it maintains
its course. You give the skipper a little
more time to realize what's about to happen
but the boat continues on the same
course and at the same speed. BoatU.S.
Marine Insurance Claim files are filled with
situations like this one that have unhappy
Most cases occur like this: A boater
who knew he had the right of way didn't
change course until the very last moment
and then it was too late. The boats collided.
The give-way boat (some years ago
this was called the "burdened" boat) was
operated by someone who'd never heard
of navigation rules, wasn't paying attention
and, after the collision, stated he figured
because he had the larger of the two vessels,
the other guy would steer clear. So
here's how to avoid moments like this:
Always keep a lookout while underway;
assign someone else this task and let everyone
know if your attention is going to be
When it becomes obvious that a potential collision exists, don't wait for the other skipper to give way. Chances are, he or she is clueless about "right of way" rules or isn't paying attention, so they aren't going to react as one would hope. Bottom line: You make the move, you change your course, and nobody will be involved in a collision. Remember International Navigation Inland Rule 17b:
"When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision."
If you are the give-way vessel, any course change should be made early and it should be obvious to the other skipper. If two boats are approaching, each should steer to starboard and pass on port. Five short blasts of your horn will alert the oncoming boat that a dangerous navigation situation exists.
Read the navigation rules at www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/guide/navigation_1.html