New Zealand Date/Time:
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 8:24:40 PM
"Rules Of The Road" on the water

When Two Boats Meet

When two boats are approaching each other, one has the right of way and is called the stand on boat. The other boat is called the give way boat.

The give way boat must make an early and obvious manoeuvre so there can be no confusion. The give way boat must pass astern of (behind) the stand on boat, while the stand on boat maintains the same course and speed. 

Every boat that is overtaking must give way. You are overtaking if you are approaching another boat anywhere in a 135 degree sector at its stern.


In Channels and Harbours

  • Every boat must keep to the starboard (right) side of any channel;
  • Inside a harbour (normally shown on the pilotage limit on the chart) you must keep out of the way of any ship over 500 tons (about 50m in length);
  • You must not create a wake which causes unnecessary danger to other boats or people;
  • You must not anchor in a channel or anywhere that could cause a danger to other craft;
  • All small craft must keep out of the way of larger vessels that are restricted by the channel;
  • Stay 200m away from tankers, remember you can be fined or prosecuted for breaking rules or bylaws.

When Power Meets Power

  • You must give way to another boat on your starboard (right);

  • If you meet head on, both boats must turn to starboard (right).


When Things Go Wrong!

  • If the give way boat does not appear to be giving way, the stand on boat must take action. The stand on boat should turn to starboard (right). If it turned to port it could turn into the path of the give way boat.

When Power Meets Sail or a boat being rowed or paddled

  • The power boat gives way (unless the other boat is overtaking);
  • A sailing boat has to give way to a special case power boat, which displays certain lights or day shapes;
  • Sailing boats should avoid sailing in a narrow channel. They have to give way to power boats restricted by the channel

When Sail Meets Sail

  • When the wind is coming from different sides, the boat with the wind on the port (left) side has to give way;

  • If when both boats have the wind on the same side the windward (upwind) boat has to give way;
  • Special rules may apply between yachts competing in the same race.