Waypoint Amsterdam Sailing School

The Collisions Regulations for yachties

International Regulations for Avoiding Collisions at Sea or IRPCS. The rules are specified in great detail in the regulations and the serious student is encouraged to seek the definitive document. Certain individuals are legally required to carry or possess a copy of the rules, such as the owners and/or operators of certain vessels. These legal requirements vary by jurisdiction. Consult the appropriate maritime authorities for each jurisdiction. Any individual subject to such requirements should obtain a complete, official copy from a government or official source. However, the rules are summarized below.

Part A - General

For the purpose of these Rules, except where the context otherwise requires:

(a) The word “vessel” includes every description of watercraft, including non-displacement 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.

As soon as the engine is on and engaged, she is no longer a sailing vessel and therefore the vessel must apply to the rules like a power driven vessel.

(d) The term “vessel engaged in fishing” means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus which restrict maneuverability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict manageability.

Technically, a fishing vessel does not come automatically in this definition. She must be actively engaged in fishing with gears that restrict her manoeuverability.

(e) The term “seaplane” includes any aircraft designed to maneuver on the water.

(f) The term “vessel not under command” means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.

A vessel not under command or NUC must be suffering from exceptional circumstances that have cause an inability to comply to the Rules.

(g) The term “vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver” means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. The term “vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver” shall include but not be limited to:

  • (i) A vessel engaged in laying, servicing, or picking up a navigational 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.

A vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver or RAM is restricted due to the nature of her work, not to any other constraints, with exception of the fishing vessel that have their own category.

(h) The term “vessel constrained by her draft” means a power driven vessel which because of her draft 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.

A vessel constrained by her draft (draught) or CDB is constrained not only by her draught by also the width of available water. She can only be a power driven vessel, never a sailing vessel.

(i) The word “underway” means a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.

Stopped in the water is still underway

(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.

In sight by eyes not by radar

(l) The term “restricted visibility” means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms and any other similar causes.

There is no definition for the term “At anchor“. We had several discussion on board of what does exactly means “At anchor”. Just the anchor out ? even with stern lines make fast to the shore ?


Part B - Steering and Sailing Rules

Section I - Conduct of Vessels in any Condition of Visibility

Section II - Conduct of Vessels in Sight of One Another

Section III - Conduct of Vessels in Restricted Visibility

Part C - Lights and Shapes

Part D - Sound and Light Signals

Part E - Exemptions