Fundamental Collision Regs

Avoid Collisions The fundamental rule when at sea is to avoid a collision, regardless of which is the stand on vessel. It is your responsibility as skipper to keep a proper lookout. It is your responsibility to know and understand the rules before heading out.

  1. Listen and look ahead – You must keep a good lookout at all times.
  2. Keep a safe speed – Travel at a safe speed, taking into account the boat traffic in the area, weather conditions and when visibility is limited.  You must not esceed five knots if you are;
    • within 200m of the shore
    • within 200m of any structure
    • within 200m of a boat displaying a diver’s flag
    • within 50m of any other boat
    • within 50m of a person swimming
    • on a power boat if any person has any part of their body outside the rails or edge of the deck.
  3. Respect the give way rules – When two boats are approaching each other, one has the right of way. The other boat must give way and pass astern (behind).
  4. Give way when overtaking.
  5. Keep clear of big ships.

Rules on the water

When meeting head on powerboats must turn to starboard and pass port to port. (powerboats includes yachts under motor)

Powerboats must give way to sailing, paddle and rowing boats, unless: the other vessel is overtaking the powerboat is a special case boat, displaying certain lights or day shapes

A sailing boat must give way to another sailing boat if the wind is blowing from its port (left) side (i.e if you are on port tack and the other yacht is on starboard) or if it is windward (upwind) to the other sailing boat.





If you approach another vessel in a 135° sector at its stern, (either under power or sail) you are considered to be overtaking and must give way.

Learn more

If you want to learn more about the rules on the water take one of our learn to sail courses and/or have one of our instructors join you for the first day of your charter. We also recommend the Coastguard online Day Skipper course which includes content on Maritime Rules and Regulations.

Thank you to Maritime New Zealand for images and content.  

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