Right-of-Way Rules

with Koralina

One of the best ways to remember your Right-of-way rules is to remember this simple acronym S.L.O.W.

rightBefore we get started lets briefly define some helpful terms that we use while discussing right of way-

  • Stand-on vessel: The stand on vessel is the boat that has right of way. The Stand-on vessel is required to maintain course and speed.
  • Give-way vessel: The give-way vessel is the boat that must keep clear of the stand-on vessel. The Give-way vessel is required to make a clear and obvious change in course to alert the stand-on vessel of their intentions.

Now that we have those terms out of the way let’s get to the rules of the road; don’t forget S.L.O.W

S. Starboard over Port: A boat on a starboard tack is the stand-on vessel. Thus a boat on a port tack must give-way to the starboard tack boat.

L. Leeward over Windward: If two boats are sailing on the same tack the boat that is more leeward is the stand-on vessel. Thus the boat that is more windward must give-way to the leeward most vessel.

O. Overtaken over Overtaking: This rule applies to boat sail boats and power boats. If a boat is approaching another boat from clear astern that is moving faster than the boat ahead, that boat is the give-way vessel. The boat which is being overtaken from behind is the stand-on vessel. Please note even if a power boat is the boat clear ahead, it is the responsibility of the a sailboat is give-way.

W. Working over leisure: A commercial boat that is working (e.g.: crabbing boat, military, tanker) is considered the stand-on vessel. The boat which is sailing for leisure is the give-way vessel. Please note this rule also applies to both sailboats and power boats.

Right-of-way rules are important to every sailor to insure everyone’s safety on the water. To learn more about right-of-way rules you can visit the Boat US website at: http://www.boatus.com/foundation/guide/navigation_1.html