When it comes to boating, it is essential to know and understand the rules of navigation. One of the most critical rules is to determine which vessel has the right of way when two boats are approaching each other. However, the question arises, what happens when a personal watercraft is overtaking another vessel?
According to the navigation rules, a personal watercraft (PWC) is defined as a vessel that is less than 16 feet in length and designed to be operated by one to two persons. When a PWC is overtaking another vessel, it is essential to know who has the right of way.
In general, when a PWC is overtaking another vessel, the vessel being overtaken has the right of way. This is because the PWC is generally more maneuverable and can quickly move around the other vessel, while the larger vessel may require more time and distance to respond. The overtaking PWC must take action to avoid a collision by either slowing down or steering to avoid being too close to the other vessel.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the larger vessel is restricted in its ability to maneuver, such as in a narrow channel or near a bridge, the PWC must stay clear and give way to the larger vessel. In addition, if the larger vessel is engaged in fishing or has its fishing gear deployed, the PWC must stay clear to avoid disturbing the fishing activity.
It is also essential to note that every vessel on the water has a duty to maintain a proper lookout and take action when necessary to avoid a collision. Even if the PWC has the right of way, it must take action to avoid a collision if it becomes apparent that the other vessel is not aware of its presence or is not taking appropriate action.
When a PWC is overtaking another vessel, the vessel being overtaken usually has the right of way. However, there are exceptions, and every vessel on the water has a duty to maintain a proper lookout and take action to avoid a collision. By following the navigation rules and staying aware of other vessels on the water, boaters can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.