Handbook of the Nautical Rules of the Road by Llana & Wisneskey

Table of Contents

Prefaces to Second and First Editions

A Short History of the Rules

- - -

Part A - General

Rule 1 - Application

Rule 2 - Responsibility

Rule 3 - General Definitions

- - -

Part B - Steering and Sailing Rules

Of the five parts in the Rules, Part B is by far the most important. The very heart of the Rules, it prescribes precautions and duties the master should observe in detecting and assessing the risk of collision. It then mandates the action to be taken as soon as the risk materializes.

Because the visibility around a vessel is so critical in avoiding collision, the Steering and Sailing Rules contain different requirements for different conditions of visibility. Part B's Rules are diveded into three sections (called "subparts" in the Inland Rules): the first applies to vessels in all conditions of visibility; the second only to vessels in sight of one another; and the third to vessels in or near areas of restricted visibility.

SECTION/SUBPART I - Conduct of Vessels in Any Condition of Visibility

Rule 4 - Application

Rule 5 - Lookout

Rule 6 - Safe Speed

Rule 7 - Risk of Collision

Rule 8 - Action to Avoid Collision

Rule 9 - Narrow Channels

Rule 10 - Traffic Separation Schemes / Vessel Traffic Services

- - -

SECTION/SUBPART II - Conduct of Vessels in Sight of One Another

Rule 11 - Application

Rule 12 - Sailing Vessels

Rule 13 - Overtaking

Rule 14 - Head-on Situation

Rule 15 - Crossing Situation

Rule 16 - Action by Give-way Vessel

Rule 17 - Action by Stand-on Vessel

Rule 18 - Responsibilities Between Vessels

- - -

SECTION/SUBPART III - Conduct of Vessels in Restricted Visibility

Rule 19 - Conduct of Vessels in Restricted Visibility

- - -

Part C - Lights and Shapes

Navigation lights are a critical part of obeying the Steering and Sailing Rules at night. If you have ever passed close by a vessel operating without lights, you have no doubt gained some appreciation for them. But beware; the navigation light arrangements that are so neatly illustrated in books will likely not be nearly so clear in real life. A masthead light will appear before sidelights; dim colored lights may look the same as white lights. A single white light could be a masthead light of one vessel type, a stern light of another, an anchor light, a practical deck light on a fishing trawler, an airplane's landing light, or a motorcycle idling on a dark pier. Don't make assumptions. The ambiguities you recognize as such probably won't kill you, but the ones you don't could very well ruin your evening.

Part C of the Rules defines several types of navigation lights, specifies the minimum ranges, and gives the combination of lights that identifies each vessel by size, type, function, and activity. Annex I to the Rules provides technical details of performance and positioning that are essential for the manufacturers of navigation lights but less useful for the mariner.

Part C also sets out the requirements for shapes, which convey information about a vessel, its situation, or its activity that would not be obvious even by day. The technical details on shape size, color, and spacing are contained in Annex I.

Rule 20 - Application

Rule 21 - Definitions

Rule 22 - Visibility of Lights

Rule 23 - Power-driven Vessels Underway

Rule 24 - Towing and Pushing

Rule 25 - Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars

Rule 26 - Navigation Lights for Fishing Vessels

Rule 27 - Vessels Not Under Command or Restricted in Their Ability to Maneuver

Rule 28 - Vessels Constrained by Their Draft

Rule 29 - Pilot Vessels

Rule 30 - Anchored Vessels and Vessels Aground

Rule 31 - Seaplanes

- - -

Part D - Sound and Light Signals

Part D contains the Rules for mandatory and voluntary signals., particularly sound signals--maneuvering signals and "fog" signals--and other signalling means as well.

Rule 32 - Definitions

Rule 33 - Equipment for Sound Signals

Rule 34 - Maneuvering and Warning Signals

Rule 35 - Sound Signals in Restricted Visibility

Rule 36 - Signals to Attract Attention

Rule 37 - Distress Signals

- - -

Part E - Exemptions

Rule 38 - Exemptions

- - -


Annex I - Positioning and Technical Details of Lights and Shapes

Annex II - Additional Signals for Fishing Vessels Fishing in Close Proximity

Annex III - Technical Details of Sound Signal Appliances

Annex IV - Distress Signals

Annex V - Pilot Rules

- - -

Appendices to This Handbook

Appendix I - Implementing Rules (Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations)

Appendix II - Interpretative Rules (Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations)

Appendix III - Summary of Vessel Traffic Service Regulations (Part 161, Subpart B, Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations)

Appendix IV - 2001 Amendments to the International Rules