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

Part B - Steering and Sailing Rules

Section I - Conduct of Vessels in any Condition of Visibility

Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

Determining if the speed is safe, is the first job of the Officer in charge and should be assessed continuously.

In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:

  • (a) By all vessels:
    • (i) The state of visibility;
    • (ii) The traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
    • (iii) The manageability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions;
    • (iv) At night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter from her own lights;
    • (v) The state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
    • (vi) The draft in relation to the available depth of water.

All these factors are very difficult to estimate. But you can say, if something append now, do I have time to take the appropriate action : avoiding collision manoeuvre or stop the vessel. The immediate action when one of these conditions is deteriorating shall be reducing the speed.

  • (b) Additionally, by vessels with operational radar:
    • (i) The characteristics, efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment;
    • (ii) Any constrains imposed by the radar range scale in use;
    • (iii) The effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference;
    • (iv) The possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by radar at an adequate range;
    • (v) The number location and movement of vessels detected by radar;
    • (vi) The more exact assessment of the visibility that may be possible when radar is used to determine the range of vessels or other objects in the vicinity.

Radar must be used to appraise a more precise idea of the situation, but if you forget the potential risks of a bad usage of the radar, your speed can be wrong, based on scanty information.


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