Chapter 5: Navigation Rules

Navigation Rules: Two Sailing Vessels

Sailing vessels are almost always the stand-on vessel when approaching a power-driven vessel. But, what does one do if operating a sailing vessel when another sailing vessel? The first step is to check the direction of the wind, as it determines who has the right of way.

Two Sailing Vessels (Figure A)

(Figure A)

In Figure A, both vessels have the wind blowing on a different side of their boat. In this case, whichever vessel has the wind blowing at their port side is the give-way vessel. Vessel A has the wind blowing to their port side. So, they must take action to steer clear of Vessel B.

Two Sailing Vessels (Figure B)

(Figure B)

In Figure B, both vessels have the wind blowing on the same side of the boats. In this case, whichever boat is closest to the wind is the give-way vessel. Being closer to the wind is also known as being "upwind." The vessel farthest from the wind, or "downwind," is the stand-on vessel. So, Vessel A is the stand-on vessel since it is farthest from the wind and it is up to Vessel B to take action and get out of the way.

Finally, let's go over what one should do if the wind is blowing on one's port side and they do not know whether the wind is on the port or starboard side of approaching vessel. The safest course of action here is to assume the other vessel has the right of way and is the stand-on vessel. Indicate intentions and take action to steer clear of the approaching vessel.