of its way until you are clear of it. Like- wise, if another vessel is passing you, you should maintain your speed and direction so that the other vessel can steer itself around you.


There are three other rules you should be aware of when driving your boat around other vessels.

Narrow Channels and Bends

When navigating in narrow channels, you should keep to the right when it is safe and practical to do so. If the operator of a power-driven vessel is preparing to go around a bend that may obstruct the view of other water vessels, the operator should sound a prolonged blast on the whistle (4 to 6 seconds). If another vessel is around the bend, it too should sound the whistle. Even if no reply is heard, however, the vessel should still proceed around the bend with caution. If you navigate such waters with your boat, you will need to carry a portable air horn, available from local marine supply stores.

Fishing Vessel Right-of-way

All vessels which are fishing with nets, lines or trawls are considered to be“fish- ing vessels” under the International Rules. Vessels with trolling lines are not considered fishing vessels. Fishing vessels have the right-of-way regardless of position. Fishing vessels cannot, howev- er, impede the passage of other vessels in narrow channels.

Sailing Vessel Right-of-way

Sailing vessels should normally be given the right-of-way. The exceptions to this are:

1.When the sailing vessel is overtaking the power-driven vessel, the power- driven vessel has the right-of-way.

2.Sailing vessels should keep clear of any fishing vessel.

3.In a narrow channel, a sailing vessel should not hamper the safe passage of a power-driven vessel which can navigate only in such a channel.

Reading Buoys and Other Markers

The waters of the United states are marked for safe navigation by the lateral system of buoyage. Simply put, buoys and markers have an arrangement of shapes, colors, numbers and lights to show which side of the buoy a boater should pass on when navigating in a particular direction. The markings on these buoys are oriented from the perspective of being entered from seaward (the boater is going towards the port). This means that red buoys are passed on the starboard (right) side when proceeding from open water into port, and black buoys are to port (left) side. When navigating out of port, your position with respect to the buoys should be reversed; red buoys should be to port and black buoys to starboard.

Many bodies of water used by boaters are entirely within the boundaries of a particular state. The Uniform State Waterway Marking System has been devised for these waters. This system uses buoys and signs with distinctive shapes and colors to show regulatory or advisory informa- tion. These markers are white with black letters and orange boarders. They signify speed zones, restricted areas, danger areas, and general information.