Here’s rule 8:
(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules of this Part and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.
(c) If there is sufficient sea-room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.
(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.
(i) A vessel which, by any of these Rules, is required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel shall, when required by the circumstances of the case, take early action to allow sufficient sea-room for the safe passage of the other vessel.
(ii) A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel is not relieved of this obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision and shall, when taking action, have full regard to the action which may be required by the Rules of this Part.
(iii) A vessel the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the Rules of this Part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision.
Action to avoid collision
As soon as a risk of collision is identified, you must consider the correct avoiding action to ensure the vessels pass at ‘a safe distance’. Once you have worked this out, you must take this action when you feel it is appropriate to do so.
Action to avoid a collision should always involve the following points:
- Positive action – by making a big alteration of course and/or speed shows the other vessel that you are taking avoiding action.
- Made in good time – the earlier the better!.
- Seaman-like – do not make the situation worse for other vessels in the vicinity of your own, consider what implications your alteration may have and how it may affect them.
- Easily seen by the any other vessels involved – avoid a series of small alterations of course and/or speed as they may not be obvious enough to show avoiding action.
A positive alteration in course and/or speed made early is better than a very large alteration made late, it’s important you remember this. The closer you are to the vessel or object in question the larger the risk of collision and the more you will have to do to clear it at a safe distance. Small alterations of course and speed are not considered safe as they do not often mitigate the risk of collision and they do not give the other vessel a obvious indication of what you are doing or what your intentions are.
Remember to make appropriate sound and light signals so accompany your manoeuvre. You should confirm your action to avoid collision by monitoring the change in your closest point of approach. Keep taking your compass bearings and reviewing the situation until the risk of collision is over. And remember your engine – if your ability to alter course is constrained then slow down or come to a complete stop.
If the collision regulations require you not to impede or give way to another vessel, you must take very early action to make sure the risk of collision does not develop.
If you are the vessel which is not to be impeded, or stand-on vessel, then you must always be prepared for the give-way vessel not to take the correct action. If a risk of collision develops, you will have to act. Remember what we covered in Rule 2: Responsibilities, and your continuing responsibilities in Rule 17: action by the stand-on vessel.
Remember: Always do something in a positive and timely manner to avoid a collision.
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