Chapter 5: Navigation Rules

Navigation Rules: Head-On Approach

When overtaking, the rule is the vessel being overtaken has the right of way and is the stand-on vessel. When two power-driven boats meet head-on, the rules are less clear. Communication is vital in this situation.

Head-On Approach


The typical approach to this situation is to pass port-to-port. Each vessel gives one short blast indicating that they wish to pass the other vessel on their port side. Each vessel will then veer starboard, moving further from one another and passing on their respective port sides.


Passing port-to-port is the default procedure, but if there is an obstruction or hazard both vessels may pass starboard-to-starboard. So if one wants to pass starboard-to-starboard, give two short blasts for "starboard" and the other boater should return the signal. When interacting with another vessel communication is vital.

Always communicate one's intentions and make sure one understands the sound signals!