TagsAnchor Tugboat Mast (Sailing) Port And Starboard Stern
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Page 1

Learn the Nautical Rules of the Road




(Referring to the above image)

What is this vessel?
A vessel not under command, making way, viewed from the port bowlight quadrant.

b. What sound signal would it make in restricted visibility, and how often?
The signal ( - .. ) at intervals of not more than 2 minutes.

c. What other sorts of vessels would make the same signal?
Not under command, Restricted in ability to manoeuvre, vessel Constrained by its draught,
Sailing vessel, vessel Engaged in fishing, vessel engaged in Towing or pushing.

‘No Radar Can See Every Target’

You are completely lost in thick fog after one of your crew tipped and spilled a bowl of steaming
mulligatawny soup over the GPS. Sadly, it also soaked you Rule of the Road book, which has now
become completely illegible, despite a gently appealing aroma of curry.

Somewhere in the impenetrable mists ahead of you, you hear:
3 distinct rings on a bell, 5 seconds ringing on a bell, 3 distinct rings on a bell.

a. What is it?
A vessel aground, less than 100 metres in length, but over 12 metres in length.

b. How often would you expect the signal to be repeated?
Intervals of no more than 1 minute.

c. Is the noise generated at the bow or the stern of the vessel?
The bow. Vessels longer than 100 metres would sound a gong after the bell signal, in the after part of the

by Paul Boissier

Page 2


The above image shows:

1 - you in a power driven pleasure craft.

2 - power driven canoe on a duck-hunting expedition. It is making way, and on a steady bearing.

a. Which is the give-way vessel?
The power driven canoe (2) is the give-way vessel: the ducks will have to wait a moment longer.

b. In what way is the give-way vessel most likely to alter?
You would expect him to make a bold alteration of course to starboard.

c. What sound signal must the give-way vessel make as he makes this alteration (assuming that the
vessels are in sight of each other)?

One short blast - the manoeuvring sound signal for altering course to starboard.


The above image shows:

1 - you in a power driven vessel.

2 - sailing boat which is motor-sailing, making way, and on a steady bearing.

Both vessels are in sight of each other.

a. Which is the give-way vessel?
The other vessel is the stand-on vessel. You must give way to him.


Page 11

11d. What shape does it display by day?

You are navigating a narrow channel in the Norwegian Fjords. You are in a large power driven
bulk carrier with a cargo of high quality aquavit that would go aground (and cheer up the locals
immensely) if it left the channel.

a. Which side of the channel should you keep as a matter of course?

b. A vessel approaches from your starboard bow, crossing the channel. It is nearly on a steady bearing.
Should you alter to avoid it?

If necessary, yes. But as a crossing vessel, it should not impede your passage.

c. You approach a blind corner. What signal do you make? If there is anyone the other side of the corner,
how would he reply?

One prolonged blast. He would reply with one prolonged blast also.


a. When should navigation lights be shown (3 occasions)?
• Between sunset and sunrise.
• Restricted visibility
• All other circumstances when it might be necessary

b. What lights in general should a yacht’s tender show when propelled by oars?
A white electric torch or lighted lantern.


Name the 6 categories of ‘Restricted in Ability to Manoeuvre’.
• A vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a Navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline.
• A vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or Underwater operations.
• A vessel engaged in Replenishment or transferring persons, provisions or cargo while underway.
• A vessel engaged in launching or recovery of Aircraft.
• A vessel engaged in Mineclearance operations.
• A vessel engaged in Towing operations that seriously restricts the towing vessel and tow in their
ability to deviate from their course.

‘Never Use RAM Thoughtlessly’

Page 12


(Referring to the above image)

a. Is ‘Not Under Command’ a distress signal?

a. Do you envy the skipper? If so, why?
Not particularly. He is aground.

b. Which is its forward end?
The forward end is the one with the higher of the two white all-round lights.

c. What sound signal would he make in fog?
3 distinct rings on a bell, 5 seconds rapid ringing, and 3 distinct rings. Repeated every minute.

If longer than 100 metres in length, this will be followed by 5 seconds sounding of a gong aft.


b. What shapes should a diving boat show if it cannot sensibly display RAM shapes?

A rigid ‘Flag Alpha’

Page 22


a. How close to a mine countermeasures vessel can you go?
1000 metres when the vessel is engaged in mineclearance operations.

a. Name the 2 sorts of shape that you require on a sailing boat.
• A black ball
• A black cone

b. What lights would it show by night (assuming that it is less than 50 metres in length and engaged in
mine clearance operations under way)?

Lights for a power driven vessel. (One masthead steaming light in this case) and 3 all-round green lights: one
at the masthead, and one at each yardarm.

c. What are the corresponding shapes by day?
A ball at the masthead, and one at each yardarm.


a. What is the colour scheme of an isolated danger buoy, including topmarks, lights and shape?

Light: group flashing white (2). No particular shape.

b. Who must a seaplane give way to (when on the water)?
Everyone. But when in a close quarters situation on the water, it should behave like a power driven vessel.

c. Should you show anchor lights in your yacht when you have picked up a buoy?
Yes, if it will help collision avoidance.


b. When would you use each one?
• A black ball - used when at anchor
• A black cone - hoisted apex down when motor-sailing

c. Which is the least embarrassing vessel to run aground in: an 11-metre yacht or a 15-metre yacht?
Both are pretty embarrassing, to be honest. However, if you run aground in a 15-metre yacht, you must show
the correct lights and shapes. Anything less than 12 metres need not.

Page 23


Spell out the ‘hierarchy rule’.
When vessels are in sight of each other, and not counting special rules relating to separation schemes,
narrow channels and overtaking, the hierarchy is:

• A vessel RAM, NUC or Constrained By its Draught
• A vessel fishing
• A sailing vessel
• A power driven vessel


a. What is the difference between a vessel towing with one additional masthead light, and a vessel
towing with two additional masthead lights?

You have one additional masthead light if the length of the tow is less than 200 metres. You have 2 if it is
longer than 200 metres.


b. What additional lights would a lifeboat show?
A blue flashing light (when on duty).

c. What signal can a vessel at anchor make if it is concerned whether another vessel has seen it?
The sound signal ( . – . )

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