Rule 17

To enable other vessels to determine if a risk of collision exists it is vital that the stand on vessel maintain a steady course and speed. Often, an inexperienced helm will be distracted by the presence of another craft and the course will start to wander. If this is a possibility the skipper should be ready to oversee the situation.

Part (a) (ii) of this Rule, however, allows us to avoid a collision if we are the stand on vessel, and we think that the other vessel has not taken sufficient action to avoid us. Part (b) tells us that we must take action to avoid a collision if the other vessel can not avoid us.

The rules are written so that you can not hide behind them, and blame the other vessel, if there is a collision the blame falls on both vessels.

It is important to understand Part (c) of this Rule. If the stand on vessel decides to give way, and the give way vessel gives way at the same moment, there is a risk that they will both turn to the same place. So if the stand on vessel does not turn to port, it will not be turning to where the give way vessel will go.

It is very tempting for the stand on vessel to turn to pass astern of the give way vessel, if you do and the other vessel turns you will have a problem. This situation arises because people have about the same tolerance of how close they are prepared to get to other vessels, as a result both vessels often turn simultaneously.

Of course, if you apply Rule 16, this would never happen.

Go to test on Rule 17.

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