Scene on the Sound: Boating Rules of the Road

Saturday, May 5, 2018


Photo and text by Jan Hansen

There are “rules of the road” for boats, and heavy traffic makes for interesting maneuvers. There have been several captains in my family; maybe that is why I have a special interest in watching our ferries determine their courses. Saturday the WSF’s had the challenge of making their runs while yielding to dozens of sailboats, the “Stand on Vessels.”

Rule number 1 is to always avoid a collision.

A watch (lookout) is required anytime that a vessel is under way.

The “Give Way” vessel is the vessel that must yield (the term used on roads when you drive a car) to the other. “Stand On” is the vessel that has the right of way.

The “Stand on Vessel” (the one that has the Right of Way) is required to hold course until such time that it is determined the “Give Way Vessel” (the one that is yielding the right of way) is not going to Give Way. The Stand on Vessel is then required to avoid a collision. All maneuvers must be made early and obvious to avoid any chance of misinterpretation.

The Rules for vessels are arranged in a Hierarchy with the highest being the Stand on Vessel:
  1. Commercial Fishing (with nets or trawls in water)
  2. Sailing
  3. Power


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