Inland and International Navigation Rules …The current Inland Navigation Rules were established in the1980’s. These were defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Inland Navigation Rules apply to waters that are 12 nautical miles out to sea from the mean low-water mark of a coastal state (country). In addition, each coastal state may claim a contiguous zone adjacent to and beyond its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 24 NM from its baselines. Finally, the US created an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which extends further seaward for 200 additional nautical miles beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the U.S. These zones also apply in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In The United States, these rules are enforced by the Coast Guard. Vessel Priority … Did you know that all vessels are not created equality? Starting from the bottom of the totem pole each vessel listed must keep out of the way of all vessels above their position. 1. Seaplanes … 2. Power -Driven … 3. Sailing (not motor-sailing, which is considered power-driven under the rules) … 4. Engaged in Fishing… 5. Constrained by Draft… 6. Restricted in Ability to Maneuver … 7. Not Under Command. …Boating Safety Classes … 45 states in the US require boaters to take a safe boating class which covers basic inland navigation rules for recreational boaters. These classes are very good, but they do not include rules that apply to specific commercial vessels. The broader set of rules include requirements for lights, shapes and whistles that identify a commercial vessel’s mission, configuration, and operational status. Smart skippers know the importance of knowing what ships are in near proximity of their vessel. To find online State Boating Safety Courses go to Helpful Resources in Captain Stormalong’s Tall Tales Blog @ boatopsandsafety.com. Light Me Up … This boating safety tip focuses on navigation lights that visually communicate beyond the standard side lights, stern lights, masthead lights, and handheld signal lights. At night and during restricted visibility conditions, commercial vessels display lights that go well beyond the minimally required standard lights. It is important for all boaters to know what these lights are signaling so they can determine what type of vessels are in near proximity to their boats, and what precautions are prudent to ensure safety. The descriptions that follow are a selection of the important navigational lighting configurations that are required on commercial boats. For the complete list consult the Coast Guard Navigation Rules book that is available at most marine supply stores. In all cases the advanced lighting configurations are in addition to standard lighting requirements for recreational boats. 1. Not Under Command … This is a vessel that has stopped because it cannot navigate according to the rules due to a mechanical malfunction. It would show only two red lights on the masthead. If this vessel could get underway if would add standard lighting. 2. Restricted in Ability to Maneuver … This vessel is restricted in her ability to change course due to the nature of her work. In addition to standard lights, it will show a red light over a white light over a second red light on the mast. If stopped it would not show sidelights nor a stern light. 3. Towing Astern … When towing, the tug will and the barges will show standard lighting. In addition the tug will and a second or third masthead light on the mast depending on the length of the tow. Finally, a yellow over white towing light will be positioned above the stern light. 4.Vessel Pushing Ahead, not Part of a Composite Unit. … A tug pushing a barge would show a yellow over yellow towing light above the stern light. The front of the barge will show sidelights. 5. A Tug Pushing Ahead on Western Rivers Above the Huey P. Long Bridge … For reasons not specified in the rules, masthead lights are not required when pushing ahead on this part of the Mississippi River. All other lights specified for pushing ahead will be shown. 6. A Vessel Trawling … A vessel trawling will show only a green light over a white light in at the masthead. All other stand lights are shown. 7. A Vessel Fishing Other Than Trawling … A vessel that is fishing other than trawling will display a red light over a white light. As with the vessel trawling, all other standard lights will be shown 8. A Vessel Dredging … A vessel that is dredging will display two red lights in a vertical line to depict the side of the vessel where the dredge is operating. On the opposite side of the vessel you will see two green lights in a vertical line. This two green light side is where it is safe to proceed. In addition all standard lights will be shown. 9. A Mine Clearing Vessel at Work … If you come upon a ship showing one green light atop the masthead that forms a triangle with two green lights (one on each end of the yardarm) you have come upon a vessel clearing mines. Stay at least 1000 meters (or more) away !!! Congratulations … You have navigated through Light Me Up, a condensed version of Advanced Navigations Rules. This concludes part one. Parts two and three will address Day Shapes … The Shape I’m In, and Sound Signals …Whistle Me a Tune. All serious skippers should have a clear understanding the sights and sounds used by commercial ships. Always remember, Smart Boating is Safe Boating!
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