Chapter 5: Navigation Rules

Collision Prevention

A collision can endanger a boat and personal well-being so one must use all available and possible means to avoid one. Here are some tips to help avoid this hazardous event. Practice these whenever operating a boat:

  • Stay alert and aware; ready to react to anything.
  • Use a depth sounder and local charts to detect shallow waters and prevent running aground. Additionally, the radar will give other boaters a warning that one's boat is in the same area.
  • Understand the procedures for dealing with different hazardous situations and be ready to act, if necessary.
  • Always make sure to avoid and pass other vessels with plenty of room. Make early and ample alterations to the course to avoid a collision. Passing at a safe distance is vital.
  • If unsure or if one requires more time to assess a situation, lower speed. This gives both vessels more time to signal, observe, and alter course.
  • Be aware of all vessels on the water. One should not pass one vessel with a safe distance only to come into close quarters with another. Always endeavor to pass all vessels at a safe distance.

These tips can help avoid a collision, but how can one determine if a hazardous situation is present? What should one look out for specifically?

If the direction of a nearing vessel does not change significantly as a reaction to one's approach, one is at risk and may need to act.

If approaching a large vessel, like a towing vessel, one may still be at risk even if they react to one's approach. They may have misjudged the distance or noticed one's vessel too late and may be unable to avoid a collision without immediate action.

If in either of these situations, one is on course for a collision and must alter course, signal the other boater, and use any other available means to prevent it.