A Course for Safe Boating
PWC NAVIGATIONAL RULES
Operating a personal watercraft in some ways is a lot like driving a vehicle,
because you must follow rules of the road and obey signs. But operating a
PWC is also different from driving a car or motorcycle, because when you
release the vessel’s throttle, you lose steering ability and you have no brakes
to help you stop.
When two boats meet head-on, each must keep to the
When crossing, the boat to the right has the right-of-way,
just like a car at an intersection, and is the stand-on
vessel. The stand-on vessel continues on a steady course
and speed. The give-way vessel should slow and turn to
starboard if necessary, and carefully pass the stand-on
vessel astern (behind it).
When you overtake another boat from behind (the
stern), you are the give-way vessel. The boat being
overtaken should hold course and speed. Pass with care
on the right or left of the stand-on vessel.
Other boats, such as commercial fishing boats, deep-
draft ships, sailboats, or other non-motorized vessels
cannot maneuver as well and have the right-of-way over
Buoys and signs mark the waterways for all vessels (see page 42). When
operating a PWC, the most important signs to recognize are the ones that read
“NO WAKE” and “5 MPH.” All boaters must obey these signs.