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

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Rule 12 -- Sailing Vessels


INTERNATIONAL

INLAND

(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:

(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:

 

Rule 12 tells which of two sailing vessels must stay out of the way of the other and covers all situations except overtaking. Rule 13 outranks Rule 12 and says the overtaking vessel shall stay out of the way of the overtaken vessel, whether it be a sailboat overtaking another sailboat or a sailboat overtaking a power-driven vessel.

 

INTERNATIONAL

INLAND

(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;

(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;

 

Paragraph (a)(i) refers to a vessel with "the wind on the port side." In this case the "windward side," as defined in paragraph (b) would be the port side and the vessel would be said to be on the "port tack." A sailing vessel with the wind on the starboard side (that is, starboard side is the windward side) carries its mainsail on the port side and stands on for vessels with the wind on the port side. Or, as more commonly expressed, the starboard-tack boat has the right-of-way over the port-tack boat. This is true even if the port-tack boat is close-hauled and the starboard-tack boat is running downwind.

 

INTERNATIONAL

INLAND

(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;

(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;

 

When both vessels have the wind on the same side, the vessel to windward is required to stay out of the way. If you draw a line through your vessel 90 degrees to the direction of the true wind (not usually the "relative" wind that you feel while your boat is moving), "to windward" is everywhere on the side of the line in the direction from where the wind is blowing (upwind) and "to leeward" is everywhere on the other side of the line (downwind).

 

INTERNATIONAL

INLAND

(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 side or on the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.

(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 side or on the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.

 

If you can't tell on which side the other vessel's sails are carried and you are on port tack, stay out of the way. At night it is especially difficult to determine on which tack another vessel is sailing.

 

INTERNATIONAL

INLAND

(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.

(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.

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