Safe Boating Course


CHAPTER 5: Navigation Rules


There are a bunch of specific terms that are used when talking about navigation rules. Let’s review some of the important definitions.



Any type of watercraft, including non-displacement craft and seaplaneany aircraft designed to maneuver on the water. used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water


Propelled by machinery

Sailing Vessel

Under sail, provided that propelling machinery, even if present, is not being used

Vessel Engaged in Fishing

Any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus that restrict maneuverability (does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus that do not restrict maneuverability)


Any aircraft designed to maneuver on the water

Length and Breadth

A vessel's length overall and greatest breadth

In Sight of One Another

Vessels are deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually from the other

Stand-on Vessel

When encountering another vessel, the stand-on vessel must: 1. Maintain course and speed. 2. Keep a proper lookout and return communication with the give-way vessel. 3. Do all it can to avoid collision.

Give-way Vessel

The vessel that must take EARLY and SUBSTANTIAL action to keep WELL clear of the stand-on vessel


A vessel that is not at anchor or made fast to the shore

Restricted Visibility

Any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms, or any other similar causes

Inland Waters

The navigable waters of the United States shoreward of the navigational demarcation lines dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States, and the waters of the Great Lakes on the United States side of the International Boundary