If you are required to give way to another vessel, take early and positive action so that your intentions are clear. Avoid making a series of small changes in speed or course that may not be apparent to the other vessel.

If another vessel is required to give way to you, maintain your present speed and course unless it is obvious that a collision may occur. In this case stop, slow down or turn away.

Rivers and channels

All vessels - including sail vessels - must always be navigated on the right (starboard) side of a river or channel in the direction of travel.

Power-driven vessels crossing

If a vessel approaches on your right (starboard) side you must stop, slow down or change course so as to keep out of its way.

If a vessel approaches on your left (port) side, it should give way to you. Maintain your present speed and course unless it appears that a collision may occur.

Sailing and power-driven vessels crossing

Powered vessels normally give way to sail. However, in harbours and channels where there is restricted room, small sailing vessels must give way to large powered vessels that cannot easily manoeuvre. Similarly, sailing vessels must also give way to other vessels that are restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, including fishing vessels that may have nets or other equipment over the side.

sail and power driven vessels crossing

Power-driven vessels meeting head-on

Each vessel must alter course to the right (starboard) so as to pass on the port side of the other.

Vessels overtaking

An overtaking vessel (including a sailing vessel) may pass on either side if safe, but must keep well clear of the vessel being overtaken.

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Page last updated 18 August 2020

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