Youth Sailing: Rules with Rocky: Stand-On & Give-Way Vessels

Hello! My name is Rocky the Rule-Following Fish! Although I live under the water, I love knowing everything about rules for boats on top of the water. My glasses help me see a lot from down here!

Every month I will share new information about how to act when boats meet! The rules on the water are a little different from the rules on land. Being a friendly boater and fair competitor while on the water is easy when you take a little time to read up on the rules.

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Stand-on and Give-way Vessels

To help us find our way, this month we will learn the difference between STAND-ON and GIVE-WAY VESSELS. First, let’s talk about who we will meet out on the water!

There so many sizes and shapes of vessels. And each move forward in different ways!

Human-Power: This means you move the boat forward with your legs, arms, hands, or a paddle.

    • Like kayaking & canoeing
    • or paddle boarding

Sail-Power: This means you move the boat forward with wind pushing on your sails.

    • Like windsurfing or kiting
    • or sailing in a boat

Power: This means you move the boat forward with an engine powered with gas or electricity.

    • Like in a motorboat
    • or on a jet ski

Working-Power: This means a larger motor-power boat that is doing a specific job like a fishing boat, ferry, barge, and cargo ship.

    • Like a ferry that transports cars and people
    • or a cargo ship that moves boxes of goods to be sold


To keep everyone safe on the water, boaters need to know when and how to avoid collisions:

    • STAND-ON means steering straight and keeping the same speed!
    • GIVE-WAY means turning to avoid and slowing down!

How do you know if you should STAND-ON or GIVE-WAY? It’s easy, ask yourself these simple questions:

    • Do you speed up and slow down quickly? NO?
    • Do you turn quickly? NO?
    • Do you speed up and slow down quickly? YES?
    • Do you turn quickly? YES?

All those questions are a bit confusing? Trying using this flow chart instead:















Before you go, I want you to remember two important rules about STAND-ON and GIVE-WAY VESSELS:

1. If you’re not sure how to act, the SAFEST PATH is to SLOW DOWN and PASS BEHIND.
2. Always avoid collisions!

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