Rules of the Road knowledge for RYA Day Skipper

So we are not talking about the highway code but rules of the road for navigating at sea.

Just like when you learn to drive you learn the highway code, now you will need to learn the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea (IRPCS), also known as Collision Regulations (ColRegs) or rules of the road.

As an RYA Day Skipper you should have a basic understanding of the rules of the road.  This articles gives you an overview of what you need to know, not the rules, we recommend you buy a book or indeed use the internet, as well of course getting practical experience.  

In total, there are 41 rules divided into two sections so you are not expected to learn them all at RYA Day Skipper level. 

Rule one states that anybody that is in charge of a vessel being used for transport on water on the high seas, or any navigable waters connected with the seas (ie lakes, rivers) must obey the rules, hence even just as a new Day Skipper you are responsible.

Next, you will need to be able to determine if there is a risk of collision and to take appropriate action. This involves understanding how to determine which vessel is the “stand on” or “give way” vessel and understanding the actions of a stand on and give way vessel.

A skipper should be able to determine what tack a sailing vessel is on and to also understand what day shapes a vessel might be showing and what action should be taken to avoid a collision.

Just remember the best advice is to avoid collisions at all times!