2015 New York Safe Boating - 43
RULES OF THE ROAD
Maintain Proper Lookout
The "Rules of the Road" are a set of internationally accepted
standards that govern the way all mariners should operate
their boats when on the water. The rules require that every
operator conduct his/her boat in a prudent manner, at a safe
speed, while constantly using all means available to maintain
a proper lookout. They also establish rules for navigation and
actions to avoid collisions between boats. To be a safe and
courteous boater, you must learn the Rules of the Road!
Collisions are the most common type of boating accident.
The first and most effective step in preventing a collision is
watching the water. Maintaining a proper lookout is the key
to avoiding a collision. Who is out there? What are they
doing? What direction are they going? Every boat must
maintain a proper lookout at all times.
Proper lookout consists of using sight, hearing, and all other
available means to be aware of your surroundings. Look
all around frequently and be aware of what other boats are
doing. At night and in the fog you may hear another boat
before you can see it. If the weather is foggy, or traffic is
heavy, have a friend help you keep a lookout. If you have
radar, use it along with sight and sound. Pay attention to
The Rules of the Road incorporate the following
Boat- includes every description of watercraft, including
non-displacement craft and seaplanes, used or capable
of being used as a means of transportation on water (any
water craft that can float and be directed from point A to
Be aware that even the best operator will be a less effective
lookout as the day wears on. Fatigue tends to narrow a
lookout's vision, hampering or even destroying his or her
effectiveness. To combat fatigue, use a scanning method.
Cover the horizon in a series of steps and cover the water
from the bow out to the horizon in similar steps. Look
all around the horizon and recognize what boats may be
coming up behind you. To reduce the effects of glare, wear
top quality sunglasses and apply non-reflective finishes on
the forward portions of your boat. Also, don't hesitate to
ask someone else to keep an eye out, or steer, particularly in
confined water. A second set of eyes will help spot things
you may have missed.
Power Driven Boat- a boat that uses mechanical force
to propel it through the water.
Sailboat- a boat that uses wind force in sails to propel
it through the water. When a motor is used to move a
sailboat, outboard or inboard, it is considered a power
Stand-On Boat- the boat that is required to maintain
course or speed when it encounters another boat.
Give-Way Boat- the boat that must change course and/
or speed when it encounters the Stand-On boat.
The requirements for a proper lookout are stated in the Rules
of the Road: "Every boat shall at all times maintain a proper
lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means
appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so
as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of
Underway- a boat that is not at anchor, or made fast
to the shore, or aground. A boat is considered underway
even if it is just floating and not under propulsion.
Western Rivers - the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Great Lakes- Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie
and Ontario, and their connecting and tributary waters
including the Saint Lawrence River.
How do You Recognize the Risk of
When you see another boat, watch its path of movement
over time. If the bearing (angle between you and the other
boat) does not appear to change and the range (the distance
between you and another object-in this case another boat)
decreases there is a risk of collision. This is called Constant
Bearing, Decreasing Range or CBDR for short. CBDR is
easily recognized when you meet another boat head on or
when you approach a boat from behind. When a boat is
crossing your direction of travel you need to pay attention
to what the other boat is doing until it is passed and clear. If
the bearing between you and another boat decreases, the
other boat will pass ahead of you. If the bearing between
you and another boat increases, the other boat it will pass
behind you. Risk of collision may sometimes exist even when
Every boat must proceed at a safe speed at all times so that
the boat can take proper and effective action to avoid a
collision. In determining what speed is a safe speed, consider
the following factors:
the maneuverability of the boat in the prevailing
weather conditions, including the speed and
direction of the wind and the state of the sea;
the speed, strength and direction of the current;
the proximity of navigational hazards; and
the depth of water.