Who is responsible for avoiding a collision between two boats?

Most people like to spend leisure time strolling around with the boat. But you should always be careful while boating as there are various dangers like sand buds, water current, or risk of collision of boats. You need to be cautious and prepared for any situation. Now let’s come to the main topic ” Who is responsible for avoiding a collision between two boats? ” 

So the simple answer to that is, If there is a sudden collision between two boats, the operators of the two boats are responsible for such a situation. All water pilots and sailors need to follow a certain set of maritime rules while traveling through waterways. 

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According to those rules, the dangers and collisions in the water are the operator’s responsibility, which means breaking the navigation rules.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to the rules, and there are some measures that you may follow to avoid a collision. 

These rules will tell you the difference between two powerboats approaching each other, two same boats that might be following the same path, or when any motorboat is approaching a sailboat. 

Becoming a safe skipper and boat user is significant, assuming you are, in any event, considering getting out onto the water. 

Very much like driving a vehicle on the road, boats require regard and in-depth knowledge of what the US Coast Guard laws are. In the event that you don’t know them and haven’t done your learning, please don’t put your life in danger or different people groups.

Table Of Contents

 The major rules to follow to avoid collision of boats

  • You should be aware, cautious, and follow the rules of navigation.
  • You should be careful enough to pay attention to the navigation aids.
  • Try to have a sharp watch on everything around, and you may even appoint a person to be a “lookout
  • Be on the road, be in the water, you should always maintain the traffic. You should maintain a safe speed, be careful in congested areas and at night.
  • At turns, you must look all ways and then proceed with your boat.
  • You must use cautions if you are traveling in sun glares
  • As drinking and driving are prohibited, you should also avoid drinking and sailing. Apart from these, you should avoid sailing if you are tired, stressed or physically unwell due to some reasons
  • You should be aware of the floating debris and sand bunds while sailing your boat, as they could be dangerous.
  • You must stay in the middle of a channel.

How can you avoid colliding with other boats?

If you’re new in this field and concerned about certain factors like a collision of boats, certain dangers, and many more, you should be aware of how to avoid these collisions.

 The things that you should learn are: –

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You should be aware of the difference between port, starboard, and stern

There are some basic things that you must know before sailing your boat. The part of the water left to the boat is known as port, the part which is right to the boat is called starboard, and the rear part of the boat is known as the stern.

Approaching from stern

If you see any board approaching from the stern area and you need to give away to it, you should keep your speed and direction constant, and you should not make any moves and move in a single way.

Approaching from Starboard

If another boat moves towards your boat from the starboard position, you should keep well out of its way.

Approaching for Port

If a boat approaches the port, you are more likely to follow the same measures you should in the starboard situation. You need to keep your direction and speed constant.

When rules might not work

There will be situations when any of the rules might not work. Don’t panic and be distressed. Keep calm and try your way out.

Vessels that are not as flexible as kayaks, kayaks, sailboats, and paddle boats will have the option to proceed over speedboats. 

Nonetheless, assuming one boat can’t move, then, at that point, the boat that is the most flexible should consistently give way.

Credit: Boatlive365

Some more boating rules 

Here are some more boating rules suggested to you for safe navigation and avoiding collisions.

When two approaching boats meet

  • Assuming two motorboats are moving toward one another head-on, then, at that point, the two boats should shift their direction to one side (starboard), so they wind up passing port-side to port-side. 
  • Assuming that two motorboats are crossing each other and on the verge of a crash, you should give way to the boat on the right (starboard). The boat giving way needs to make an early move. You can either stop your boat or shift your direction to one side. 
  • Assuming that the boat giving way has one more speedboat on the port’s left-hand side, which isn’t halting or shifting direction, the helmsman is permitted to make an intense move with a stop or heading change. 
  • Whether mechanized, fuelled, or sailed if overtaking, any boat should give a lot of room.

Channels and harbors

  • Boats should consistently keep to the starboard side of channels. 
  • Keep far removed of any boats more than 500 tons (50 meters long typically). 
  • Don’t imperil different boats of individuals by making enormous wakes. 
  • You are not allowed to secure down in channels. 
  • Little boats need to be far removed from bigger boats.

When power meets power

  • Continuously give way to the boat that is on your starboard side. 
  • Assuming two mechanized boats are going directly on to one another, then, at that point, boat captains should alter course to the starboard side.

When power meets sails

  • Motorboats need to give away for sailboats, except if the sailboat is surpassing you. 
  • Sailboats should not enter narrow channels and should give way for motorboats who can’t move effectively in channels.

When sails meet sails

  • The sailboat with the wind on the right starboard side consistently has the option to proceed. 
  • The sailboat with the wind on the left port side is the one to give way. 
  • Assuming both sailboats have the wind on a similar side, then, at that point, the sailboat in the upwind is the one that needs to give way consistently.


Crashes with different boats and vessels are the number 1 justification behind fatalities in US waters, as per late examination. Crashing into another boat can do a great deal of harm to your vessel, yet it’s not simply different boats you want to pay special attention to. 

Different obstacles in the water can likewise cause impacts like rocks, logs, extensions, and docks.

Thus, both the operator is responsible for the collision, and to avoid such collision, you as an individual should be careful.

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