Navigation Rules: Rules of the Road, Updated Edition
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These rules are important because they convey your rights and your obligations under the law. These laws have the same force as any others and tend to be strictly enforced when in a court. So if you don’t know how you should act, especially in multiple vessel situations, you really are taking quite a risk. This book is generally applicable throughout the world as these rules are internationally agreed upon. I would strongly advise everyone with a boat to not only keep a copy aboard but to study it carefully. These rules are not complex and are not full of special provisions for special interests, etc. They embody some of the most sensible law in the world.
As the mildest possible example of two crews having their day negatively impacted by a lack of understanding of these simple rules I’ll relate an encounter up the Saint John River in Florida. We had spent a couple of months up the St. John writing and designing, visiting with friends on another boat who were doing some commercial cat fishing. As we headed down the river in the spring the wide tropical bending river was very appealing. We saw a large powerboat coming up the river headed straight toward us and though we were already a bit toward the starboard side we turned a bit more to starboard as two boats meeting should, but the fellow coming up the river turned to port some so that he was heading straight for us again. I had Nannette pass up the horn to me and signaled a turn to starboard, just to be sure and turned more toward the starboard side of the channel. He responded with several hoots and turned to force us further over. So we turned on our depth sounder and found we were already just as far over as we could safely go and so we maintained our course. By now most of the quite wide river was on his starboard side and both boats were crowded against the other side of the channel. As he went by we could see that the fellow was about as red in the face as it was possible to be and pounding on his dashboard in an absolute fury. If I’d been a cardiologist I would have bet I’d have a patient before too long. Though I’ll never be sure what his problem was, the only thing I can think of is that he must have somehow reversed the navigation rules in his head and instead of maneuvering to pass port to port through both boats turning to starboard he must have thought he should turn to port and was trying to get us to do the same. Had the boats involved been two boats traveling at high speed rather than both boats being operated at a slow speed a serious situation might have developed very fast.
You’ll be a lot more secure in what you should do if you have a copy of this aboard and study it. (tm)($10.95, 221 pages)