Collisions between boats are one of the most dangerous and frequently occurring mishaps on our nations waters. These collisions not only result in vessel damage but often result in serious personal injury or death. Often the collision will result in people on board being thrown overboard by the force of the impact.
Avoiding collisions on the water differs in many ways from avoiding collisions while driving in your car. The one contributing factor which is similar between boats as compared to automobiles is SPEED. It has been statistically proven that the number of collisions between vehicles, be they of the marine or roadway type, are reduced as speed is reduced.
Although the newer high-powered boats can reach speeds comparable to those of an automobile, there are no seat belts or brakes on most boats. Boats can either alter course or reverse their engines. Similar to the rules of the road used to prevent collisions on our nations highways, there are navigation rules which are used to prevent collisions on our nation’s and the world’s waterways.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Navigation Rules (International-Inland) publication can be ordered from most Marine Stores or you can view them online or download them from the USCG Navigation Center. The 37 rules and five annexes contained within this publication are specifically designed to help you prevent vessel collisions. All mariners are required to know and responsibly apply these navigation rules when operating their vessels. Over the next few weeks we will be posting and interpreting the rules from what they say to what they mean when you remove the legalese.