With the sun shining brightly on the open sea, it’s tempting to get carried away and forget that, just like driving a car, there are certain laws of the road and safety procedures that must be studied and followed. These are the rules, and they apply to all sorts of vessels, whether they are propelled, sail-driven, or human-powered. Above all, you must be always aware of everything going on around you and limit your choices that have a negative impact on others.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) publishes the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs), which are governed by the US Coast Guard and Transport Canada. The following are the most essential guidelines to be aware of when it comes to pleasure boating. They must be learned and followed instinctively, and your aims must be clearly stated ahead of time.
The stand-on vessel, which has the right of way, must maintain its present speed and direction, keep a lookout, listen for any communication from the give-way vessel, and be prepared to act if necessary. The give-way vessel on your left will have a green light on at night, signaling that you should stay on course.
Allow a vessel with limited maneuverability to pass: This might be owing to the nature of the vessel’s present operation, such as a commercial fishing boat, tug, and tow, restricted draft, or a breakdown, such as an engine failure, or a rescue. Always use radar and AIS to keep an eye on things and be ready for radio conversations.
An important point to point out is that the right-of-way vessel is still responsible for preventing a collision and must be ready to take evasive action if the give-way vessel fails to respond properly.
Recognize the most typical sound signals. Five or more short, fast blasts, for example, indicate danger or that they do not understand or disagree with the goals of the other boater.
While we all enjoy having fun on the water, it is important to use the boat safely and be courteous to others.
According to the US Coast Guard, 70 percent of watercraft accidents are caused by operator mistakes. It is advised that an operator complete a boating safety course before embarking on a cruise. He or she should also have learned basic boating skills and be aware that the boat is in excellent functioning order and has all of the necessary safety equipment aboard.
Inattention is the single greatest cause of accidents. Boat operators should keep watch at all times by looking and listening all around the boat. They should also use their navigational aids and radio and be constantly analyzing any risk of collision with another boat or obstacle. Talking, texting, and general use of cell phones while boating presents a problem on the water.
The second most prevalent cause of accidents is speed. Reduce your speed in congested locations, especially around sail and non-powered boats, where there are swimmers, garbage, or wildlife in the water, and in regions with difficult navigation. Speed increases the demand for attention and should always be associated with sight and avoidance capacity. Ideally, have a second person keeping an eye on everything.
Do you watch out for your own wake? Do you check behind you after passing? If you haven’t noticed, overtaking close to another vessel might cause it to aggressively thrash around, endangering the crew and triggering tragedy below. Conscientious sailing requires faster vessels to maintain a safe distance from other boaters so that their wake has no effect.
Being mindful of local risks such as floating debris such as logs, tugs and tows, and strong rapids can also contribute to a pleasant trip, as will accurately reading nautical aids to avoid the numerous “invisible” rocks.
There are several ways to enjoy being on the water. Some people enjoy the sense of speed and prefer to go from point A to point B swiftly. Others travel more slowly and get a rush from harnessing the wind, while others prefer to utilize their own strength. The laws of the road provide avoidance tactics for all types of vessels, but there is also the obligation to cruise safely and to respect and share our seas with everybody. Our sailing areas are fortunate in that they are big and generally uncrowded. Cruising conservatively by maintaining a safe speed, vigilantly keeping watch, early practice of avoidance methods, passing at a distance, and being mindful of your influence on others will allow everyone to relax and enjoy being on the water in their own manner.