It’s important to understand sailing basics – avoiding collisions with anything that might damage your boat. What do you look at before you leave an anchorage or port? Once you’re underway and sailing, how soon do you start to pay attention to known obstacles, like reefs and channel markers?
What about unknowns like anchored or moving boats? How do you know if a boat is on a collision course with you? Answers to all these sailing basics questions are addressed and demonstrated in this sailing video.
Sailing Basics – Avoiding Collisions
Before leaving an anchorage, we review our iPad charts, local pilot books, and plotter. What we’re looking for is obstacles between where we are and where we’re going. An obstacle might be a cardinal marker or a shallow patch of water. Anything that could cause our boat damage is an obstacle.
Once we know the obstacles we keep a lookout for them until we pass. While earmarking known obstacles, we also watch for unknown dangers like anchored and moving boats. As soon as we see a moving boat we determine if it’s heading away or towards us. If it’s coming toward us we keep watching the boat to then determine if we’re on a collision course or not.
Sailing basics – avoiding collisions: While sailing or motoring around busy areas we are constantly watching and monitoring our surroundings.
It’s good practice to assume that all the other boaters around you don’t know what they’re doing. Sure, there are rules to determine who has right of way but so many boaters don’t really understand the rules. If you keep an eye on the boats around you and work to get out of their way you’ll save yourself quite a bit of stress.
As my husband, Simon, often says, ‘Assume that the person on the boat approaching you is sleeping and just get out of his or her way.’ Over the course of eight years of sailing, we’ve passed many boats where no one is in the cockpit or the helmsperson is asleep in the cockpit.
When it comes to who has right of way, no one has right of way. A collision needs to be avoided at all costs.
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Any thoughts, feedback, or stories about sailing collisions?
Please leave it below.
john McIntosh says
Erik Fransman says
you explain it quite well. However, if people don’t know this (right of way, avoiding collision, how to use AIS, and so on) they have no business skippering a boat. They should stay ashore.
Kim Brown says
I agree…but the reality is that there are many boaters out there that don’t know very much. Thanks for commenting Erik.
There is no such thing as a “right of way” if you are not racing.