Boating Safety Basics
*The Coast Guard's most recent boating-related accident statistics show:
It's clear that a great majority of these could easily have been prevented!
- 681 fatalities - 4,274 injuries - $31 million in property damage.
- Nearly 80 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
- Alcohol was involved in more than one third of all boating fatalities.
- About 80 percent of all boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course.
- Nearly 70 percent of all reported accidents involved operator-controllable factors, like inattention, careless/reckless operation, inexperience, operating at an unsafe speed, and no proper lookout.
The following information is an excerpt from
so should you find this information helpful - you should probably take a
course in boating safety... if any of does not make any sense at all - you
should most definately take a course in boating safety. Links for
Boating Safety Courses are at the bottom of this page.
Anybody serious about
having a good time on the water NEEDS to hold a Boating Safety Certificate -
General responsibility Above all else, don't have a
collision. "I had the right of way" isn't a defense if there was something
you could have done to avoid the other boat.
Anchored Anchored, stopped, or moored boats must be avoided
by all other vessels.
Overtaken Boats being overtaken have the right of way over
the overtaking vessel. (This is true even if the slower boat is power and
the faster boat is sail.)
Restricted maneuverability Boats with restricted
maneuverability, whether due to fishing, draft, length, towing, or other
causes, have the right of way over vessels not so restricted.
Traffic separation Vessels participating in a traffic-separation
scheme have the right of way over non-participating vessels. (If you must
cross a traffic lane, try to do so at right angles.)
Downriver On certain inland waters, powerboats proceeding
downriver have the right of way over upriver and crossing vessels.
Man-powered beats sail beats motorboat beats seaplane
Human-powered boats (canoes and rowboats) have the right of way over
sailboats, which in turn have the right of way over powerboats, and even
they have the right of way over seaplanes. I think of this in terms of
increasing technological sophistication: the fancier your equipment, the
fewer rights you have (sort of a class reversal).
This is an important one for sailors, of course, but note that there are a
number of situations listed above where sailors must still give way.
Starboard boat or starboard tack wins This actually
represents two rules, depending on whether the meeting boats are both sail
or both power. (If one is sail and one is power, the rule above applies.)
For power boats, the boat approaching from starboard has the right of way.
For sailboats, the boat that is on starboard tack has the right of way,
regardless of from where it is approaching.
Leeward boat wins When two sailboats meet on the same tack,
the leeward boat has the right of way over the windward boat.
Not Under Command A vessel that is "not under command" in
the technical sense has the right of way. This refers to anchored or
unoccupied vessels as well as those that have lost the ability to maneuver
(e.g., through loss of power or their rudder).
Restricted maneuverability Boats with restricted maneuverability,
whether due to fishing, draft, length, towing, or other causes, have the
right of way over vessels not so restricted. (Note: Rod McFadden has pointed
out that while it makes sense for NUC boats to have the right of way over those
with restricted ability to maneuver, this is not explicitly mentioned in the
COLREGS. He comments, "I've been unable to find any case where a NUC/RAM
collision occurred; it's safe to say that if such a collision ever does occur,
the Admiralty Bar will dine well for quite some time!")
Constrained by draft Boats constrained to a narrow channel by
their draft have the right of way. (This is really a special case of restricted
Fishing vessels Vessels engaged in fishing (this means
towing nets, etc., not people with a pole off the back end) have the right of
way. (Again, this is a special case of restricted maneuverability).
Sailing vessel underway Sailboats have the right of way over
Power-driven vessel underway Powerboats are near the bottom,
but have right of way over: Seaplanes
Seaplanes Seaplanes must avoid everybody else.
OTHER Boating Safety Sites:
Please use caution - sober skippers are safe skippers... WEAR your PFD's - don't wash up beside them.