Remember Every operator is responsible for avoiding a collision. In complying with the navigation rules, operators must consider all dangers of navigation; risk of collisions; and any special conditions, including the limitations of the vessels involved. These considerations may make a departure from the navigation rules necessary to avoid immediate danger. Rendering AssistanceThe navigation rules also require operators to stop and render assistance to a vessel in distress unless doing so would endanger their own vessel or passengers.
Collisions can be prevented easily if every vessel operator fulfills three major responsibilities. Practice good seamanship. It is the responsibility of every boat operator to take all necessary action to avoid a collision, taking into account the weather, vessel traffic and the limits of other vessels. Such action should be taken in ample time to avoid a collision and at a safe distance from other vessels. Keep a proper lookout. Failing to keep a sharp lookout is the most common cause of collisions. Every operator must keep a proper lookout, using both sight and hearing, at all times. Watch and listen for other vessels, radio communications, navigational hazards and others involved in water activities. Maintain a safe speed. Safe speed is the speed that ensures you will have sufficient time to avoid a collision and can stop within an appropriate distance. Safe speed will vary depending on conditions such as wind, water conditions, navigational hazards, visibility, surrounding vessel traffic density and the maneuverability of your boat. Always reduce speed and navigate with extreme caution at night and when visibility is restricted.
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There are rules that every operator must follow when encountering other vessels. Two terms help explain these rules: Give-way vessel. This vessel is required to take early and substantial action to keep well away from other vessels by stopping, slowing down or changing course. Avoid crossing in front of other vessels. Any change of course and/or speed should be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel. (A series of small changes should be avoided.) Stand-on vessel. This vessel must maintain its course and speed unless it becomes apparent that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action. If you must take action, do not turn toward the give-way vessel or cross in front of it. The action a vessel operator should take when encountering another vessel depends on the answers to two questions: How are the two vessels propelled?
How are the two vessels approaching one another?(See diagram above)
The rules in these examples cover most of the situations you will encounter as a recreational boater. However, be aware that there are exceptions to the rules. For example, if you approach a vessel that has less maneuverability than your vessel, the other vessel will usually be the stand-on vessel.
If operating a power-driven vessel, you must give way to:
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