On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

With such a wide open sea, the thought of two boats colliding with one another seems unlikely. However, it does happen. In many cases, the collision is a result of one of the boat operators being under the influence of alcohol or simply not having enough experience to drive a boat. One incident that occurred a few months ago off Rhode Island, when two sailboats collided off the Newport Pell Bridge, illustrates this fact.

It is a lot easier than most people realize to run into another boat while at sea. Although the ocean has a lot of space, it is relatively easy to collide with a boat because there are no traffic lanes or stop signs on the ocean like you find on the road. Here are several ways you can drastically reduce the potential of experiencing a boating accident at sea.

In a crossing situation

When two boats are about to cross in a perpendicular fashion, the boat that has the other on its starboard side needs to give the other enough time to cross safely. This requires you to be familiar with boating terminology, and if you are unsure where the other boat is due to darkness, then play it safe and stop until you know it is safe to proceed. 

When overtaking

Overtaking refers to a boat going in the same direction as another boat. To remain safe, the boat coming up from behind should give the other vessel enough breadth to reduce the likelihood of a collision. 

When approaching head-on

When two boats are heading directly into one another, there may not be enough time to come to a complete stop, especially if it is unclear if the other boat is aware of the situation. Therefore, both boats should attempt to steer the craft starboard. This will allow both boats to pass each other on the port side.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.