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RYA International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

This is a summarised overview of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at sea.

  • The rules apply anywhere on the sea or connected to it (subject to local by-laws)
  • Keep a good lookout at all times by all means available (sight, sound, radar)
  • Maintain a safe speed for the conditions - hazards, tide, traffic, sea state, visibility, depth, manoeuvrability, background lights.
  • The words “Right of Way” do not occur in the rules.  A “Stand On” vessel should maintain its course and speed until it is clear that the “Give Way” vessel is not taking avoiding action.  Then all vessels must keep clear.
  • Action taken to avoid collision shall be positive, early and safe.  At night, show a different aspect of our lights.
  • A risk of collision exists if a bearing by compass, radar or transit stays constant.
  • Navigate on the starboard side of a channel.
  • When crossing a shipping lane or traffic separation scheme keep your heading at right angles to the traffic.
  • Special rules apply in fog - There is no “Give Way” vessel.  If you hear any vessel ahead, sound your signal, slow down but keep steerage on, stop if necessary, navigate with extreme caution till the danger is past.
  • General Rules for Priority:
    1. Not under Command (NUC)
    2. Restricted in Ability to Manoeuvre (RAM)
    3. Constrained by draught (CBD)
    4. Fishing
    5. Sailing
    6. Motor (including motor sailing)
    Tugs are treated as motor vessels, unless they are RAM or CBD
    Exceptions to the general rules: Give way to ships in Narrow channels or Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS).
  • Overtaking boats keep clear – sail and power.  You are overtaking if you are in the arc of the other vessel’s stern light.
  • Sailing Rules:
    1. Starboard tack v Port Tack – Port tack boat gives way
    2. Boats on the same tack – The boat to windward keeps clear
  • Motor Rules:
    1. Boats meeting head on – both turn to starboard. Make a sound signal – 1 short blast.
    2. If two power vessels are crossing the boat which has the other on her starboard side shall keep out of the way

Recommended RYA Books

To help you in your personal preparation for the course we can advise the following book/s. 

If you click on the link it will take you directly to the RYA website to the appropriate page where you can order it and have it despatched directly to you.

RYA International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

RYA International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

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