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As we are traveling around the local waterways here on the Boca Coast, we have become concerned that not every boat operator is familiar with the maritime rules of boating. Lets look over some of those rules and see what exactly they mean.

Know your navigation rules

These rules are the most important thing to know BEFORE heading out on your boat. Here are some of the basics:

  • When two power vessels are approaching head on,both vessels should alter course to starboard to pass port-side to port-side.
    • Basically, this means move over to the right so that you pass the boat to your left.
  • When two power-driven vessels are in crossing situation on a collision course, give way to the vessel to starboard (right).The give way vessel must take early and obvious action to avoid a collision by either stopping or altering course to starboard.
    • In other words, if another vessel is entering your waterway from another, the one on the right must obviously give way.
  • If the give way vessel has another power-driven vessel from the Port (left) which does not take obvious action to give way, or alter course to starboard, then the Skipper of give-way (stand on) vessel must take evasive action by either stopping, or again, altering course to starboard.
  • Every vessel (power or sail) that is overtaking must keep well clear of the over taking vessel. You are overtaking if you are approaching another vessel anywhere in a 135 degree sector at its stern.

When power meets power

  • You must give way to another vessel on your starboard. (right)
  • If you meet head on, both vessels must turn to starboard. (right)

When power meets sail

  • Power gives way to sail unless the sailing vessel is overtaking.
  • Sailing vessels should avoid sailing in a narrow channel. They have to give way to power-driven vessels restricted in their ability to manouvre in the channel.

When sail meets sail

  • The vessel which has the wind on its starboard (right) side has the right of way. The vessel which has the wind on its port (left) side must give way.
  • When both boats have the wind on the same side the windward (upwind) boat has to give way.

When things go wrong

  • If the give way vessel does not appear to be giving way, the stand on vessel must take evasive action and should turn to starboard (right). Do not alter course to port, it could place you into the path of the give way vessel.

Nighttime Navigation

There are four different types of lights you need to be aware of. Be sure to install the necessary ones on your vessel if there is ever a chance that you might be out after dark.

  • Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called combination lights) because they are visible to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side.
  • Sternlight: This white light is seen from behind or nearly behind the vessel.
  • Masthead Light: This white light shines forward and to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels. A masthead light must be displayed by all vessels when under engine power. The absence of this light indicates a sailboat under sail.
  • All-Round White Light: On power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet in length, this light may be used to combine a masthead light and sternlight into a single white light that can be seen by other vessels from any direction. This light serves as an anchor light when sidelights are extinguished.

Aides to Navigation

Markers and buoys are here to help us navigate the waters safely. You should thoroughly study up on these to ensure safe travels.

Lateral markers:

  • Nuns are red cone-shaped buoys marked with even numbers
  • Cans are green cylindrical-shaped buoys marked with odd numbers.
  • Lighted Buoys use the lateral marker colors and numbers; in addition, they have a matching colored light.
  • Daymarks are permanently placed signs attached to structures, such as posts, in the water. Common daymarks are red triangles (equivalent to nuns) and green squares (equivalent to cans). They may be lighted also.

Non-Lateral markers:

  • Information- Squares indicate where to find food, supplies, repairs, etc. and give directions and other information.

  • Controlled- Circles indicate a controlled area, such as speed limit, no fishing or anchoring, ski only or no skiing, or “slow, no wake.”

  • Exclusion- Crossed diamonds indicate areas off-limits to all vessels, such as swimming areas, dams, and spillways.

  • Danger- Diamonds warn of dangers such as rocks, shoals, construction, dams, or stumps. Always proceed with caution.

Boating-Regulatory Zones

On Florida waterways there are signs restricting boat speed. Florida regulates boat speeds in certain areas either for protection of manatees or for boating safety purposes. It is important that boat operators look for signs, understand what they mean, and abide by the speed regulations. Here are the most common signs.

  • “Idle Speed, No Wake” Zone– A designated area where vessels must be operated at a speed no greater than that which is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. The vessel should not produce a wake at this speed.

  • “Slow Speed, Minimum Wake” Zone- Areas where vessels must be fully off plane and completely settled in the water. Any wake created by a vessel in one of these zones must be minimal (very small). If your vessel is traveling with the bow even slightly elevated while in one of these zones, it is not proceeding at “Slow Speed” as required by law.

  • Maximum 25 MPH, 30 MPH, and 35 MPH Speed Zones- Controlled areas within which a vessel must not exceed the posted speed.

  • Vessel Exclusion Area- An area marked with a vertical diamond shape with a cross in the center that indicates all vessels or certain classes of vessels are excluded from the area.

Here at C2 Inshore Charters, we take safety seriously. We want to see everyone on the water arrive home in the same condition they left. Stay safe out there.