Sailing Navigation: Basic Rules

Content provided by US SAILING.

Four Basic Navigation Rules for Sailing Situations

  1. Port-tack boat gives way to the starboard-tack boat – upwind or downwind. If two vessels might come close or collide, the stand-on vessel maintains course and speed. The give-way vessel alters course and/or speed to pass at a safe distance. (see Image 1 below)
  2. Windward boat gives way to the leeward boat on the same tack, whether sailing upwind or downwind. (see Image 2 below)
  3. Overtaking boat gives way to the vessel ahead, whether a sailboat or powerboat.
  4. Recreational powerboats generally give way to sailboats. It's true most of the time. Stay away from working power vessels, fishing boats, ferries, tugboats, barges, and ships, especially in navigational channels.

Image 1:Sailing Navigation

Image 2:Sailing Navigation