Safe Boating Course


CHAPTER 5: Navigation Rules

CHAPTER 5 REVIEW: Navigation Rules

In Chapter 5, we learned some of the most important information you need to know to be a safe boat operator: navigation rules.


We started off by noting that there are a lot of navigation rules that can apply to you depending on where you are boating and what vessels are nearby. In this chapter, we summarized the main rules. But it’s also a good idea to get a copy of the U.S. Coast Guard Center’s complete set of navigation rules and keep them handy.

You can also refer to’s free online Navigation Rules Study Guide at from your tablet or smart phone when you need a quick refresher on the rules.

Next, we learned that you are allowed to ignore any navigation rule if following that rule is going to put you and your vessel in direct danger!


There are a number of definitions that are important to know in order to understand the navigation rules. For example, a sailing vessel is any vessel using sail power, even if it has an engine. While a power-driven vessel, is any vessel propelled by an engine regardless of fuel source.

We also learned that the boat or vessel with the right of way is called the “stand on vessel” while the vessel that must yield or get out of the way is called the “give way vessel”.

In an encounter with another vessel, the stand-on vessel maintains its course and speed while the give-way vessel takes early and substantial action to steer clear of the other vessel.

To indicate that you understand the intention of the other vessel, answer with the same signal.


We then talked about how to use sound signals to communicate to other vessels and what sound signaling equipment you are legally required to have onboard. Remember that all boats, even small unpowered vessels, need some means of making a sound signal, such as a bell, whistle or air horn.

Examples of common sound signals include giving one short blast if you want to pass a boat on your port side or two short blasts to pass on your starboard side.