Safe Boating Course


CHAPTER 5: Navigation Rules


In this chapter, we’re going to summarize the basic navigational rules that you’ll need to know to be a safe and responsible boat operator.

There are additional navigation rules that we won’t cover in depth but that you might still need to know, like how to deal with various types of waterways, and how to operate around commercial vessels. Just remember, it’s your responsibility to know and follow all the navigation rules that apply to your boating environment. 

It’s also important to know that you’re allowed to ignore any navigation rule to avoid placing your boat in immediate danger. Safety is always your first priority.

Where do you find the complete listing of navigation rules? Check the “Navigation Rules of the Road” guide published by the U.S. Coast Guard (COMDTINST 16672.2 Series) and available through the U.S. Government Printing Office or on the Web at And for state-specific navigation requirements, check with the state where you are boating.