Rules of the Waterways for Boating and Yachting

Boating and yachting appeal to many people. When spending time on the open water, whether on a large or small vessel, it's important to follow the rules of the water. Just as drivers need to know and understand rules of the road, boaters need to learn rules for safe operation of water vessels before buying a sailboat, motorboat, or yacht for sale. Rules can vary depending on the geographic location and the size of the boat or yacht. Ensure that you know the rules that apply to you before you venture out on the water in used yachts or other vessels.

International Rules

International rules of the water apply to all types of vessels that venture out onto the oceans and seas. These rules also apply to boats and yachts on waterways that connect with seas and oceans. These waterways may be navigable by large seaworthy vessels. The types and sizes of vessels can vary significantly, so boaters should have some familiarity with other vessels. Even the definition of "vessel" is somewhat ambiguous. According to international navigation rules, a vessel can be any type of craft navigating the water. Boaters must follow rules regarding the right of way, lighting, sound, anchoring, and docking as well. Rules of the water govern how boaters operate their vessels around other vessels. These laws are in place to keep everyone safe and to prevent accidents. Under boating regulations, right of way is different than it is for motor vehicles on the road. This is because waterways do not have streets and intersections. Rather, vessels have one of two distinctions: the give-way vessel and the stand-on vessel. The give-way vessel must allow the stand-on vessel to continue on its way without interfering. The operator of the give-way vessel should signal the intention to yield so the stand-on vessel operator knows to proceed. The stand-on vessel must acknowledge this signal, continuing on with its course in a safe manner.

Inland Rules

Boating and yachting appeal to many people, but when you're planning on spending time on the open water, whether on a large or small vessel, it's important to follow the rules of the water. Just as drivers need to know and understand rules of the road, boaters need to learn rules for safe operation of these vessels before buying a sailboat, motorboat, or yacht for sale. The rules can vary depending on where you're boating and the size of the boat or yacht, but you must ensure that you know the rules that apply to you before you venture out on the water in used yachts or other vessels. While having an enjoyable time on the water is the primary focus, it's important to follow the rules of boating to make sure that both the vessel and everyone on board returns to shore safely.

International Rules

International rules of the water apply to all types of vessels that venture out onto the oceans and seas. These rules also apply to boats and yachts on waterways that connect with seas and oceans. The types and sizes of vessels can vary significantly, so boaters should have some familiarity with the different sizes and shapes of vessels they might encounter on the water, both motorized and non-motorized. According to international waterway navigation rules, a vessel can be defined as any type of craft navigating the water, from yachts to canoes. All boaters must follow rules regarding the right of way, the use of safety lighting and audible signals, anchoring, and docking. Rules of the water primarily govern how boaters operate their vessels around other vessels. These laws are in place to keep everyone safe and to prevent accidents. Under boating regulations, the right of way is different than it is for motor vehicles on the road. This is because waterways do not have neat, orderly streets and intersections. Rather, when two vessels approach each other on the water, they are labeled as either the give-way vessel or the stand-on vessel. If only one of them is a motorized vessel, the motorized one is the give-way vessel.The give-way vessel must allow the stand-on vessel to continue on its way without interfering. The operator of the give-way vessel should signal their intention to yield so the stand-on vessel's operator knows to proceed. The stand-on vessel should acknowledge this signal, continuing on with its course in a safe manner.

Inland Rules

Boating laws and regulations apply to all of the inland waters of the United States, such as major rivers and lakes. All watercraft that use inland waters are subject to these laws. Regulations also extend to Canadian waters that are a part of the Great Lakes, as long as the two countries' laws regarding the same waterways do not conflict with each other. Inland water rules also include special provisions that apply to specific waterways. These waterways include the Great Lakes and the western rivers.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. These five lakes represent the largest mass of fresh water anywhere on Earth, and they cover 95,160 square miles. Many people enjoy spending time on the Great Lakes boating, fishing, water skiing, and exploring. To ensure that everyone remains safe, boaters must follow the applicable laws and regulations. These regulations extend to tributaries that connect with the Great Lakes as well.

Western Rivers

Boating regulations for the western rivers cover the Mississippi River and specific tributaries, the Colorado River, and other rivers located in western states. Boats and yachts traveling on western rivers must follow their specific rules of safety. Every boater has the individual responsibility to learn and know rules that apply to a specific craft and the body of water it is being used on. Western river boating regulations include specific rules about operation through narrow channels to prevent accidents. Generally speaking, boats traveling downstream are automatically the stand-on vessels. Any boats moving upstream are automatically the give-way vessels.

Written by Stephen Moynihan