Rules of the Waterways
Unlike the roadways, our waterways don’t have yellow stripes and signal lights directing traffic. Boaters must depend on each other to know and observe the “rules of the road” on the water even though markings are rarely available to provide guidance. Knowing and following the rules will prevent accidents – and keep tempers in check - so everyone can have a good time.

Meeting Situations
Head-on: When meeting head on, both vessels should alter their course to the right so that each boat will pass to the port side of the other. You should signal your intention with one short horn blast. The other vessel should answer right away.

Crossing: When crossing, the vessel to your starboard (right) is considered the stand-on vessel and you should stay out of the way and avoid crossing ahead. The vessel to the left is the give-way vessel, or the vessel directed to


keep out of the way so that the vessel to your right can cross.

(Passing a slower-moving vessel):
If you are being overtaken, you should maintain your course and speed. If the course ahead is not safe for passing, signal that there is danger ahead by sounding five or more short rapid blasts. If you wish to pass another vessel, signal one short blast to let them know you intend to pass on the starboard side, or signal two short blasts to pass on the port side.

These are the most common situations that boaters find themselves in where they need to know how to react, but there are more. Be sure to get your copy of the “ ABCs of California Boating Law.”It's your quick reference guide to California boating laws.