What Should You Do To Avoid Colliding With Another Boat?

What Should You Do To Avoid Colliding With Another Boat? Collisions are one of the most frequent marine accidents; to avoid colliding with a boat, we need to use good navigation skills.

What Should You Do To Avoid Colliding With Another Boat?

Collisions with boats happen often, and there are many ways to prevent them. The best way for boaters to avoid accidents is by ensuring they have adequate visibility, don’t sail in bad weather or when it’s getting dark.

Also, keep your distance and watch out for other boats so that you don’t collide with them and cause an accident.

Collisions with boats can be dangerous, but many things can be done to make them less likely to happen. These include the use of radar, sirens, and other navigational aids.

A study conducted by the USCG showed that more than 66% of all collisions with boats involved vessels that were not using these navigational aids.

Must Read: Who Is Responsible For Keeping A Sharp Watch To Avoid A Collision Between Two Boats?

You Should Understand What Port, Starboard, And Stern Are All About

Port is the left side of the boat and starboard is the right side of the boat; both these sides have a steering wheel that is used to steer the vessel.

The steering wheel on port and starboard are connected together by a cable that moves up and down when you turn your wheel each time it connects with its partner’s.

The cable connects with a pulley at either end, allowing it to move from one side of the ship to another without being held in one place by an anchor or other object.

The stern is the back end of a boat; It is the back part of the vessel and has a wide range of uses, whether it is for aesthetics or functionality.

The stern offers many advantages over other parts of a boat. For example, it can assist in balancing the boat through its wide surface area and act as an anchor point for other smaller boats to attach to be towed. You should understand three main points here;

  • Port: The left side of a boat or ship.
  • Starboard: The right side of the boat or ship.
  • Stern: The back end of the boat, the back end of a ship, or an apparatus used to propel boats or ships through water.

Common Causes Of Boat Collision

The most common causes of a boat collision are lack of visibility, wake interference, and wake turbulence. In some cases, a collision results from the driver being distracted or impaired, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Boats can also collide with other structures such as seawalls, bridges, piers, and jetties, which happen to be found on nearly every shoreline. Many possible causes for such collisions range from human error or an unknown cause to mechanical failure.

What Should You Do To Avoid Colliding With Another Boat?

The best way to avoid boat collisions is to give yourself plenty of time to complete your trip and ensure that you have a clear view ahead of you.

If you have to pull over and wait for a few minutes, do so in an area where there is ample room to move around safely in case something goes wrong. Here are other important things to take note of in order to avoid accidents while driving;

You Shouldn’t Drive Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol

If you are planning a fun night on the water, remember to be responsible. Alcohol and drugs will impair your judgment and make it difficult for you to operate a boat. Drowsy driving is also unsafe and illegal on boats.

Follow Navigation rules

Boat owners are required to follow the rules of navigation in order to prevent collisions, accidents, and damage to other boats and property.

These rules include keeping the boat at slow speeds, not exceeding the boat length, and not driving across bridges or through locks.

Pay Attention

Boats require constant attention. It is essential for boat owners to be aware of the safety of others around them and to be attentive to themselves.

Drive At A Safe Speed

Ensure you are safe by maintaining a safe speed while driving, especially during the night and when you’re in congested areas, and staying within your limits.

Be Careful When Moving To The Sun’s Glare

Boats can be dangerous objects when driving towards the sun’s glare on the water. When driving towards a reflection, make sure to keep your eyes on the road and stay alert for any other boats or obstacles that could potentially cause you to crash.

Watch Out For Debris After Heavy Rainfall

In the wake of heavy rainfall, boaters are reminded to keep a close eye out for floating debris. These items can cause boats to sink in a short period, which is why it’s so important for boaters to remain vigilant.

When Two boats meet, the following rules apply;

  • If two motorboats are approaching each other head-on, they should change their course to the right (starboard) so that they end up passing port-side to port-side. When boats are traveling in the same direction, it would be difficult for them to avoid a collision if they wanted to pass one another on the left side.
  • When two motorboats are heading towards each other, and it looks like they will collide, you should give way to the boat on the right (starboard). This is because the boat giving way has to take early action and turn left. You can either use your engine to blow air across your boat’s propeller or turn your boat’s rudder, which will change your course.
  • If the boat giving way has another motorboat on the port left-hand side that is not stopping or changing course, the helmsman is allowed to take drastic action with a stop or direction change. The helmsman should always be aware of their surroundings and be prepared for any emergency.
  • When a boat is overtaking, it must give plenty of room. If the speed of the boat is no more than half that of the other boat, then a rectangular course must be maintained. On the other hand, boats have to give way to those coming from the opposite direction.

Rules Of Navigation For Boats

Boats have their own set of rules and regulations that they follow while navigating. These rules can vary depending on the country they’re in, but everyone follows a few universal rules: stay on course, stay within your own speed limit, provide a passage when meeting other vessels, and maintain a proper lookout. Other rules to follow include the following;

  1. Keep your boat pointed in a straight line while moving at a medium speed.
  2. Set a course in advance and follow it until it becomes necessary to alter the course, or until you have completed your intended voyage.
  3. Keep clear of fixed objects like bridges, wharves, and piers, and stay outside the area bounded by any obstructions unless you intend to pass close alongside them or under them.
  4. When navigating near land, avoid significant hazards like rocks (especially those that are bare, rounded, or uncovered by water), sandbars, channels, and underwater wreckage such as old ships that may be covered with weeds or barnacles.
  5. Stop the engine if you see lights on a nearby barge, dock, or bridge.
  6. Look for signs that there are boats nearby before entering any restricted areas or when traveling at higher speeds.
  7. Stay in a designated area, away from the shoreline (usually called “shoal”).
  8. Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.
  9. Avoid pulling up too close to other boats.
  10. Stay alert for any changes in water depth.

What should be done if you happen to collide with another vessel?

If you happen to hit a boat while driving, there are several things that you can do. First and foremost is to remain calm; Many people panic when they see a boat in their path, and it is not unusual for them to take dangerous actions like swerving into the other lane of traffic or hitting the brakes too hard.

If you are unable to drive away from the scene of impact because of damage to your boat, it may be advisable for you to call for assistance. Make sure to bring everyone to safety and ensure everyone is wearing their life jacket.

What Should The Operator Of A Give Way Vessel Do To Avoid Colliding With A Stand On Vessel Boat?

The operator of a give way vessel should keep a safe distance from the stands on the vessel and signal their intention to turn by changing course. If the operator is unable to change course, they should sound their horn or whistle as a warning.

When navigating in a channel or fairway, vessels need to keep a safe distance apart. Different rules apply to vessels that have given way and stand on vessels.

For safety, operators of vessels are advised to use their engines only when they are actually moving and not just when they are stopped or standing still.

The key is not to stop in front of the stand-on-vessel but rather keep going by using throttle control or propulsion while using side thrust.

What are some of the best ways to avoid boat collisions?

1) Stay on the shoreline, do not enter the water near any boats.

2) If you see a small boat in distress, call for help.

3) If you see someone drowning, swim out to them and try to pull them back to shore.

4) If you see someone jumping into the water from a bridge or dock, push them back in and out of the water.


The best way to avoid a collision with another boat is to maintain the right distance, keep your speed steady, and watch for any other boats that are coming up behind you.

It’s important not to get too close or too far away from other boats. If they end up within your path of travel, you will likely collide with them.

You should also be careful when crossing bridges or driving through tunnels because they can block your view of the road ahead.

See Also: Who is Responsible for Avoiding a Collision Between Two Boats?.

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