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Who has the right of way on the water? It’s important that you know the answer to that question and understand all the boat traffic rules, particularly in high traffic waterways. There’s a litany of different rules that can come into play out on the water and everyone should study up on them by taking a boating safety course, which will be required for new boaters in most states. But we can boil down the basics regarding right of way into a few key rules:
The boat to the right has the right of way (and is called the “stand-on” boat) while the boat to the left (called the “give-way” boat) has to yield. An easy way to remember this is to glance at the bow of your Bayliner boat.
The boat being passed always has the right of way. Whenever you’re passing someone else, it’s incumbent upon you to steer clear and make sure you allow plenty of room.
There are many different rules that can come into play. Anchorages, inland rivers, and different municipalities may each have different rules that apply, so it’s always important to study up before you cruise or trailer to new areas you aren’t already familiar with.
A few to memorize off the bat:
Sailboats always have the right of way when they’re sailing, though if they’re motoring along, sailboats are considered powerboats as far as the boat traffic rules go.
Commercial boats that have to stay in a channel and commercial fishing boats with gear deployed have the right of way over recreational vessels.
When two boats are approaching each other head on, neither has the right of way. Both must alter course to their right to avoid a collision.
Boaters must do everything in their power to avoid a collision, regardless of all these other rules. When an accident is imminent asking who has the right of way on the water becomes a moot question — even if you’re the stand-on vessel, it’s still your responsibility to take action to avoid a collision or dangerous situation. This rule always supersedes all the others.
All Bayliners are built with the proper Coast Guard-required lighting, which includes bow lights. Look at them and you’ll notice that the red light is on the left side of the boat and the green light is on the right side. If another boat was crossing your path at night from the left, they would see your boat’s red light and know to stop or alter course since they would be the give-way vessel. But if they approached from the right side, they would be the stand-on vessel and would thus see green. So, if you ever forget which side has the right of way just look at the lights on the bow of your boat.
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The information contained within this website is believed to be correct and current. Prices, options and features are subject to change without notice. Model year boats may not contain all the features or meet specifications described herein. Confirm availability of all accessories and equipment with an authorized Bayliner dealer prior to purchase.
All prices reflect MSRP in US dollars and are applicable in the US only. Dealer sets the actual price. Pricing does not include dealer preparation fees, taxes, registration fees, or other fees that may apply. See participating dealer for details.