Rules of the road

The page shows  Crvptic Summary of the Rules of the Road, full Rules are included in the International Regulations For Preventing Collisions at Sea – RYA G2/90 Publication

Rule 5: Maintain proper look out

Rule 6: Safe Speed:

  • Visibility

  • Traffic density incl. fishing vessels

  • Manoeuvrability

  • Background or reflecting lights

  • Sea, wind & current state & proximity of hazards

  • Draught vs. depth

Rule 7: Use all means to assess risk of collision

  • AIS

  • Radar

  • Compass bearing consistency

  • Size of other vessel

Rule 8: Action to avoid collisions:

  • Positive, obvious, ample time, observance of good seamanship

Rule 9: Narrow Channels:

  • keep to starboard limit

  • <20m or Sailing Yacht shall not impede larger vessel

Rule 10: Traffic Separation Schemes:

  • Cross with heading at 90

  • Sailing vessels shall not impede a power driven vessel

Rule 12: Sailing Vessels To Give Way:

  • Windward boat on same tack or boat on port tack

Rule 13: Overtaking:

  • Start by seeing stern or stern light

  • Remain as overtaking boat until past and clear

Rule 14: Head On Situation:

  • Both veer to starboard

Rule 15: Crossing situation - Power:

  • See other vessel over starboard - give way

Rule 16: Action of Give Way Vessel:

  • Clear and substantial action

Rule 17: Stand On Vessel:

  • Maintain course and speed

Rule 18: Responsibilities Between Vessels:

Power gives way to:

  1. Not under command

  2. Restricted in manoeuvrability

  3. Fishing

  4. Sail

Sail gives way to 1) , 2), 3)

Rule 19: Restricted Visibility:

  • Maintain safe speed

  • Radar using vessel shall take action if they see that a collision situation exists

  • On hearing fog signal from vessel forward reduce speed until situation clear

Rule 20: Lights:

  • Use Sunset to Sunrise & restricted visibility

Rule 21: Light Definitions:

Rule 22: Visibility Of Lights:

  • Vessels <12m sidelights 1 mile others 2 miles

  • Vessels <5Om masthead 3-5 miles others 2 miles

  • Vessels >5Om masthead 6 miles others 3 miles

Rule 23: Power - Underway:

  • Masthead, stern & sidelights

  • >5Om 2nd masthead light abaft and higher than first

  • Hovercraft - extra all round yellow

  • <7m <7Kn -only an all round white light required

Rule 24: Towing & Pushing:

  • 2 masthead lights forward, 3 if tow >100m

  • Towing light above stern light (yellow)

  • Towed vessel -side lights & stern light, Diamond shape

  • Partially submerged - 2 All round white lights, >25m 4 white lights, >100m additional white lights, Diamond shape at rear

Rule 25: Sailing Vessels or Vessel under Oars:

  • Sidelights & stern light

  • <7m or under oars - a torch

  • Vessel under sail and power - conical shape, point down

Rule 26: Fishing (only when engaged in fishing):

  • Making way sidelights & stern +

  • o Trawler: Green over white, 2 cones apex together, or <20m basket, + masthead light abaft if >50m

  • o Fishing: Red over white, 2 cones apex together, or <25m basket, + masthead light abaft if >50m, if lying gear >150m then all round white

  • light or cone apex up in direction of gear

Rule 27: Not Under Command & Restricted In Manoeuvrability

  • Not under command: 2 all round red lights, 2 balls, + side & stern if making way

  • Restricted manoeuvrability: red white red, ball diamond ball, + power lights if making way, at anchor these + normal anchor lights

  • Towing vessels with restricted manoeuvrability show red white red + towing lights

  • Dredger: 2 reds, 2 balls at obstructed side, 2 greens, 2 diamonds, at clear side, + Restricted in manoeuvrability lights if approp.

  • Dredger engaged in diving may use red white red + flag A

  • Mine Clearing: 3 greens at cross pos., 3 balls at cross pos. + power lights -give 1000m clearance

Rule 28: Vessels Constrained By Draught:

  • 3 reds + power lights, cylinder shape

Rule 29: Pilot vessel:

  • white red + side & stern if underway, at anchor -white red + anchor lights

Rule 30: Vessels Anchored or Aground:

  • Anchored: all round white or ball, >50m 2nd white, >l00m add working lights, <7m lights not normally required

  • Aground: anchor lights + >12m 2 reds, 3 balls

Rule 31: Seaplanes:

Rule 32: Sound Definitions:

Rule 33: Sound Equipment:

Rule 34: Manoeuvring & Warning Signals:

Power Vessels:

  • alt. to starboard (short) &/or (1 flash)

  • alt. to port (2 shorts) &/or (2 flashes)

  • going astern (3 shorts) &/or (3 flashes)

  • o'take to stbd (2 longs, short)

  • o'take to port (2 longs, 2 shorts)

  • agree to be o'taken (long, short, long, short)

  • what are your intentions (5+ shorts) &/or (5+ flashes)

  • Approaching bend (long), answer (long)

Rule 35: Restricted Visibility:

  • power making way (long @ =/<2min)

  • power stopped (2 longs @ =/<2min)

  • not under command, constrained by draught, restricted manoeuvrability, sailing vessel, fishing vessel -engaged in fishing, towing or pushing vessel (long, 2 shorts @ =/<2min)

  • Fishing vessel or restricted manoeuvrability at anchor (long, 2 shorts)

  • Towed vessel - if manned (long, 3 shorts @ =/<2min), follows towing vessel signal

  • Vessel at anchor: rapid bell for 5 secs @ =/<lmin

    • >l00m bell forward and gong aft may be supplemented by (short, long, short)

    • <12m some efficient sound @ =/<2min

  • Vessel aground:

    • 3 bell strikes, rapid bell, 3 bell strikes

    • >l00m above + gong aft

    • <12m as at anchor

  • Pilot vessel as for power vessel + (4 shorts)

Rule 36: To Attract Attention:

  • sound or light signal which can't be confused with other signals

Rule 37: Distress signals:

Rule 38: Exemptions -vessels <1964 (mainly position of lights)

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This page was last modified on: January 31, 2013

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