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Colregs

A Seamans guide to the Rule of the Road
by

Matthew Scantlebury

on 3 December 2012

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Transcript of Colregs

Rules 1-19. Rule of the Road Part A- General Rules 1-3 Part B- Steering and Sailing Rules Section I- Conduct of vessels in any condition of visibility Rules 4-10

Section II- Conduct of vessels in sight of one another Rules 11-18

Section III Conduct of vessels in Restricted Visibility Rule 19 Rule 1- Application Rule 2- Responsibility Rule 3- General Definitions Rule 1- Application

(a) These Rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith
navigable by seagoing vessels.

(b) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of special rules made by an appropriate
authority for roadsteads, harbours, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas
and navigable by seagoing vessels. Such special rules shall conform as closely as possible to
these Rules.

(c) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of any special rules made by the
Government of any State with respect to additional station or signal lights, shapes or whistle
signals for ships of war and vessels proceeding under convoy, or with respect to additional station
or signal lights or shapes for fishing vessels engaged in fishing as a fleet. These additional station
or signal lights, shapes or whistle signals shall, so far as possible, be such that they cannot be
mistaken for any light, shape or signal authorised elsewhere under these Rules.

(d) Traffic separation schemes may be adopted by the Organization for the purpose of these Rules.

(e) Whenever the Government concerned shall have determined that a vessel of any special
construction or purpose cannot comply with the provisions of any of these Rules with respect to
the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well as to the disposition and
characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, such vessel shall comply with such other
provisions in regard to the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well
as to the disposition and characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, as her Government shall
have determined to be the closest possible compliance with these Rules in respect of that vessel. What this means...

(a) These rules apply to the sea, and any inland waters reachable by seagoing vessels.

(b) Any special rules for the examples given shall have precedence over these rules- but shall conform as closely as possible.

(c) These rules do not stop a state from using additional shapes, lights or signals, for navies, convoys or fishing fleets- but any used should not be mistakeable for the signals used.

(d) TSS's comply with these rules...

(e) Where a specialised vessel has been constructed that can't fit their lights or shapes in the standard layout, the government concerned shall ensure the vessel conforms as closely as possible. Rule 2- Responsibility (a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger. What this means... (a) You can't use any part of these rules as an excuse for not complying with another part of the same rules, nor should you expect to be excused after an incident because of a slavish devotion to the rules when good seamanship, or the specific situation at hand would require you to have done something else.

(b) In working at how to apply these rules in real life situations, be aware of your surroundings and your vessels capabilities, and if necessary do anything (inside the rules or out) to avoid a collision.

GOLDEN RULES:
Rule 1: DON'T HIT ANYTHING.
Rule 2: Use the Colregs as a way of complying with Rule 1.
Rule 3: Break Rule 2, if it will help you keep Rule 1. Rule 3- General Definitions For the purpose of these Rules, except where the context otherwise requires:
(a) The word “vessel” includes every description of water craft, including non-displacement craft, WIG craft and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
(b) The term “power-driven vessel” means any vessel propelled by machinery.
(c) The term “sailing vessel” means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.
(d) The term “vessel engaged in fishing” means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls or other fishing apparatus which restrict manoeuvrability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict manoeuvrability.
(e) The word “seaplane” includes any aircraft designed to manoeuvre on the water.
(f) The term “vessel not under command” means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to manoeuvre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.
(g) The term “vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre” means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. The term “vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre” shall include but not be limited to:
(i) a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline;
(ii) a vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or underwater operations;
(iii) a vessel engaged in replenishment or transferring persons, provisions or cargo while underway;
(iv) a vessel engaged in the launching or recovery of aircraft;
(v) a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations;
(vi) a vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course.
(h) The term “vessel constrained by her draught” means a power-driven vessel which, because of her draught in relation to the available depth and width of navigable water, is severely restricted in
her ability to deviate from the course she is following.
(i) The word “underway” means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.
(j) The words “length” and “breadth” of a vessel mean her length overall and greatest breadth.
(k) Vessels shall be deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually from
the other Section I
Conduct of vessels in any condition of visibility
Rules 4- 10. Section III
Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility
Rule 19. Rule 19- Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility. (a) This Rule applies to vessels not in sight of one another when navigating in or near an area of restricted visibility.
(b) Every vessel shall proceed at a safe speed adapted to the prevailing circumstances and conditions of restricted visibility. A power-driven vessel shall have her engines ready for immediate manoeuvre.
(c) Every vessel shall have due regard to the prevailing circumstances and conditions of restricted visibility when complying with the Rules of Section I of this Part.
(d) A vessel which detects by radar alone the presence of another vessel shall determine if a closequarters situation is developing and/or risk of collision exists. If so, she shall take avoiding action in ample time, provided that when such action consists of an alteration of course, so far as possible the following shall be avoided:
(i) an alteration of course to port for a vessel forward of the beam, other than for a vessel being overtaken;
(ii) an alteration of course towards a vessel abeam or abaft the beam.
(e) Except where it has been determined that a risk of collision does not exist, every vessel which hears apparently forward of her beam the fog signal of another vessel, or which cannot avoid a close-quarters situation with another vessel forward of her beam, shall reduce her speed to the minimum at which she can be kept on her course. She shall if necessary take all her way off and in any event navigate with extreme caution until danger of collision is over. What it means... (a) Note the wording 'in or near'.
(b) Speed should be relevant to the conditions and the capabilities of your vessel. Generally accepted practice is where possible to maintain a speed where you can be stopped in a distance half that of the visibility.
(c) Section I is for vessels in any condition of visibility. Operating in or near restricted vis should cause you to reassess your compliance with those rules, as conditions have now changed.
(d) Note that we are no longer looking to avoid just risk of collision- but also any close-quarters situations.

Rule 19 allows for just two methods of detecting another vessel; either by radar (d), or by hearing the fog signal (e). As radar will give a bearing and a distance, we can manouevre accordingly, but if all we have is a fog signal, all we know is that a close quarters situation may be developing. See Annexe III for audible ranges- even the largest vessels (over 200m) need a range of just 2 miles, and that figure can be affected by the conditions. Rule 4- Application. Rules in this section apply in any condition of visibility. Rule 5. Look-out Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available
means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the
situation and of the risk of collision. Rule 6. Safe Speed Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action
to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.
In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:
(a) By all vessels:
(i) the state of visibility;
(ii) the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
(iii) the manoeuvrability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning
ability in the prevailing conditions;
(iv) at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter
of her own lights;
6(v) the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
(vi) the draught in relation to the available depth of water.
(b) Additionally, by vessels with operational radar:
(i) the characteristics, efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment;
(ii) any constraints imposed by the radar range scale in use;
(iii) the effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference;
(iv) the possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by
radar at an adequate range;
(v) the number, location and movement of vessels detected by radar;
(vi) the more exact assessment of the visibility that may be possible when radar is used to
determine the range of vessels or other objects in the vicinity Rule 7. Risk of collision (a) Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
(b) Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects.
(c) Assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar information.
(d) In determining if risk of collision exists the following considerations shall be among those taken into account:
(i) such risk shall be deemed to exist if the compass bearing of an approaching vessel does not appreciably change;
(ii) such risk may sometimes exist even when an appreciable bearing change is evident, particularly when approaching a very large vessel or a tow or when approaching a vessel at close range. Rule 8. Action to avoid collision (a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules of this Part and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.
(c) If there is sufficient sea-room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.
(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.
(f) (i) A vessel which, by any of these Rules, is required not to impede the passage or safe
passage of another vessel shall, when required by the circumstances of the case, take early action to allow sufficient sea-room for the safe passage of the other vessel.
(ii) A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel is not
relieved of this obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision
and shall, when taking action, have full regard to the action which may be required by theRules of this Part.
(iii) A vessel the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the Rules of this Part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision. What it means... Do it big, do it early, and do it in one go.
Usually, altering course alone is the best way to avoid collision, because its easier for the other vessel to understand and monitor.
Keep checking the situation until finally past and clear.
If its all happening too fast, slow down.

If you are required not to impede the passage of another ship, take your action early so as not to scare him.
You still have to avoid impeding him, even if he is the give-way vessel. Just be aware of what he might do as the give-way vessel, and make sure your action and his possible one don't make the situation worse. (Realistically, if he's a CBD as defined in rule 3, his only option will be an alteration of speed.)
If you are the vessel not to be impeded, you still would remain the give-way vessel in the normal situations. You can't just stick up CBD signals and go to bed. Rule 9. Narrow channels (a) A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.
(b) A vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.
(c) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any other vessel navigating within a narrow channel or fairway.
(d) A vessel shall not cross a narrow channel or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within such channel or fairway. The latter vessel may use the sound signal prescribed in Rule 34(d) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing vessel.
(e) (i) In a narrow channel or fairway when overtaking can take place only if the vessel to be overtaken has to take action to permit safe passing, the vessel intending to overtake shall indicate her intention by sounding the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(c)(i). The vessel to be overtaken shall, if in agreement, sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(c)(ii) and take steps to permit safe passing. If in doubt she may sound the signals prescribed in Rule 34(d).
(ii) This Rule does not relieve the overtaking vessel of her obligation under Rule 13.
(f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a narrow channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(e).
(g) Any vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel. What it means... (a) Stick to the stbd side of the channel.

(b) & (c) Vessels under 20m and sailing boats shall not get in the way of vessels that can only safely navigate within the narrow channel, but vessels engaged in fishing are not allowed to impede any vessel in a narrow channel, irrespective of whether or not they can safely navigate outside it. Note this is not referring to crossing situations- that comes up in (d). This is about vessels inside the narrow channel.

(d) No vessel is allowed to cross a narrow channel in such a way that impedes the passage of a vessel that can only safely navigate within the narrow channel. If the vessel not to be impeded is unsure she shall sound 5 or more short and rapid blasts.

(e) If both vessels have to act to ensure a safe overtaking manouevre, the vessel overtaking can sound 2 long 1 short (I intend to overtake you on your stbd side) or
2 long 2 short (I intend to overtake you on your port side).
The vessel to be overtaken then sounds morse 'C'(yes): 1 long, 1 short, 1 long, 1short.

(f) If you can't see round a bend in the channel, sound 1 long to warn other ships you are coming. If they are there, they will sound 1 long back. Rule 10. Traffic separation schemes (a) This Rule applies to traffic separation schemes adopted by the Organization and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule.
(b) A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall:
(i) proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane;
(ii) so far as practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone;
(iii) normally join or leave a traffic lane at the termination of the lane, but when joining or leaving from either side shall do so at as small an angle to the general direction of traffic flow as practicable.
(c) A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes but if obliged to do so shall cross on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow.
(d) (i) A vessel shall not use an inshore traffic zone when she can safely use the appropriate traffic lane within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However, vessels of less than 20 metres in length, sailing vessels and vessels engaged in fishing may use the inshore traffic zone.
(ii) Notwithstanding sub-paragraph (d) (i), a vessel may use an inshore traffic zone when enroute to or from a port, offshore installation or structure, pilot station or any other place situated within the inshore traffic zone, or to avoid immediate danger.
(e) A vessel other than a crossing vessel or a vessel joining or leaving a lane shall not normally enter a separation zone or cross a separation line except:
(i) in cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger;
(ii) to engage in fishing within a separation zone.
(f) A vessel navigating in areas near the terminations of traffic separation schemes shall do so with
particular caution.
(g) A vessel shall so far as practicable avoid anchoring in a traffic separation scheme or in areas nearits terminations.(h) A vessel not using a traffic separation scheme shall avoid it by as wide a margin as is practicable.(i) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane.(j) A vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of apower-driven vessel following a traffic lane.(k) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the maintenance of safety of navigation in a traffic separation scheme is exempted from complying with this Rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
(l) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the laying,servicing or picking up of a submarine cable, within a traffic separation scheme, is exempted fromcomplying with this Rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation. What it means... (a) Rule 10 is supplemental to the other rules when operating in or near a TSS- it doesn't change any of the other rules.
(b) Drive on the correct side of the road, and don't stray too near the middle area between opposing lanes unless you are forced to. Join at the beginning, and leave at the end. If you can't do that, join and leave at as shallow an angle as possible.
(c) Cross at right angles. It helps other ships know what you are doing. Less confusion, less accidents.
(d) TSS's make areas of high traffic density safer by grouping ships transitting in the same direction together. Use the lanes, and stay in them unless you are either bound for an area within the inshore traffic zone; or you need to avoid immediate danger.
(e) The separation zone is the area between the two lanes of opposing traffic. Unless you are crossing it, or leaving your own lane do not use this area except to avoid immediate danger. Vessels may fish within the separation zone, but are not to impede any vessel in a lane (i).
(f) The TSS keeps ships transiting an area in the same direction together, but once the TSS ends, you should be aware that in order to reach their different destinations vessels may execute large and potentially rapid alterations of course without warning.
(i) & (j) Vessels engaged in fishing are not allowed to impede anyone following a lane. Boats under 20m and sailing vessels are not to impede a PDV following a lane.
(k) & (l) RAM vessels engaged in work within a TSS are exempted from the normal rules for the duration of their work, as the may need to work or face in different directions to the flow of traffic in that area. Section II Conduct of vessels in sight of one another.
Rules 11-18. Rule 11. Application Rules in this Section apply to vessels in sight of one another. Rule 12. Sailing vessels (a) When two sailing vessels are approaching one another, so as to involve risk of collision, one of them shall keep out of the way of the other as follows:(i) when each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which has the wind on the port side shall keep out of the way of the other;
(ii) when both have the wind on the same side, the vessel which is to windward shall keep out of the way of the vessel which is to leeward;
(iii) if a vessel with the wind on the port side sees a vessel to windward and cannot determine with certainty whether the other vessel has the wind on the port or on the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.
(b) For the purposes of this Rule the windward side shall be deemed to be the side opposite to that on which the mainsail is carried or, in the case of a square-rigged vessel, the side opposite to that on which the largest fore-and-aft sail is carried. Rule 13. Overtaking (a) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Rules of Part B, Sections I and II, any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.
(b) A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam, that is, in such a position with reference to the vessel she is overtaking, that at night she would be able to see only the stern light of that vessel but neither of her sidelights.
(c) When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly.
(d) Any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear. What it means... If you are overtaking a vessel, you will in every situation be the one who has to take action to keep out of the way.

Because it will always require a proactive response, if you are not sure whether or not you are overtaking you should assume you are, and act accordingly.

You can't overtake someone, then cut across their bow as a crossing vessel. You remain the overtaking vessel (and therefore the one obligated to keep out of the others way) until 'finally past and clear', that is, until such time as any action by you would not cause concern to the other vessel.
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