General Information and Definitions

This section covers definitions, and general information that is covered in COLREG’s. It goes through its application, procedures and rules every vessel should follow, and definitions of vessels you will find on the water.

Rule #1: Application: No one is Exempt

International Rule:

These rules apply to all vessels on or around coastal waters, and any waters that are navigable by seagoing vessels. They don’t interfere with rules that are followed in inland waters, any special rules made by a government of any state as long as they can’t be mistaken for any of the current rules in COLREGs. This also means that if a government has deemed a vessel of special construction and purpose that can’t fully abide by these rules must follow them as closely as they possibly can.

Canadian Modifications:

If a Canadian vessel or a Canadian Pleasure Craft is deemed to have a special purpose or a vessel of special construction by the Minister, there will not be any reduction in safety for factors such as:

  • Visibility, glare, vulnerability to damage, or ease of safe access to lights.
  • Impairment of audibility or any other characteristic of the appliance, sound pressure levels at listening posts in navigation or working areas, vulnerability to damage or ease of safe access to sound signalling devices.

 

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #2: Responsibility

Also known as the General Prudential.

This rule outlines that none of these rules will exonerate any vessel or person from consequences that come from neglecting to follow the rules. It also mentions that these rules will make sure to take into account the dangers of navigation and collisions, and that there are some special circumstances, and limitations of vessels. This rule also states that if an action is necessary to limit damage and loss, that the vessels involved may/must take whatever action they can to prevent and avoid immediate danger, damage or loss.

Simply put this means do not blindly follow these rules if they put you or your vessel in immediate danger, and to take any actions that you can to prevent a collision, damage or loss. The overall intent of this document is to minimize collisions, damage or loss at sea.

There are no Canadian Modifications to this rule.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #3: Definitions

International Rule Definitions:

  • Vessel: any and every description of a watercraft including non-displacement craft, seaplanes, WIG vehicles (Wing to Ground effect).
  • Power Driven Vessel: any vessel propelled by machinery.
  • Sailing Vessel: any vessel under sail, and if provided that it’s propelling machinery is not being used.
  • Vessel Engaged in Fishing: a vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls or other fishing apparatus that restrict maneuverability, this does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or any fishing apparatus that does not restrict maneuverability.
  • Seaplane: an aircraft designed to land and maneuver on the water.
  • Vessel Restricted in Her Ability to Maneuver: a vessel that is restricted in her ability to maneuver as required by these rules, these vessel include but are not limited to: a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline; a vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or underwater operations; a vessel engaged in launching or recovery or an aircraft; a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations, and a vessel engaged in a towing operation.
  • Vessel Not Under Command: any vessel which is unable to maneuver as required by these rules due to some exceptional circumstance.
  • Vessel Constrained by Her Draught: a Power Driven vessel that is severely restricted in her ability to maneuver due to their constraints in draught.
  • Underway: a vessel not at anchor, aground or made fast to the shore.
  • Length and Breath: Vessels overall length and her greatest breadth (beam).
  • In sight: Vessels are deemed to be in sight of one another, only when one can be visually observed from the other.
  • Restricted Visibility: Any condition where visibility is constricted by fog, mist, falling show, heavy rain, sandstorms or other similar causes. Operating at night, where visibility is good, is not considered as operating in restricted visibility.
  • Wing in Ground Craft: a multimodal craft, which flies in close proximity to the surface by using a surface-effect action.

Canadian Modifications:

The definition for vessel in the Canadian Modifications does not apply.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #4: When They Apply

 Rules apply in any condition of visibility.

There are no Canadian Modifications to this rule.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #5: Lookout

Every vessel must maintain a proper look-out at all times. For example a look-out be by sight, hearing, and any other available means appropriate for surrounding circumstances and conditions.

There are no Canadian Modifications to this rule.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #6: Safe Speed

International Rule:

Every vessel must proceed at a safe speed at all times.

Safe speed takes into account:

  • Visibility.
  • Density of traffic in the area.
  • Maneuverability of all vessels in the area, including yourself. (This is referencing stopping distance and turning abilities in prevailing conditions.)
  • Presence of background light (i.e from shore or back scatter of your own lights).
  • State of wind, sea, current and proximity of navigational hazards.
  • Your vessel’s or another vessel’s draft. 

Additionally Any Vessel with an Operational Radar Should Take Into Account:

  • Characteristics, efficiency and limitations of radar equipment.
  • Constraints imposed by radar range scale in use.
  • Effect of sea state, weather and other sources of interference.
  • The possibility of small vessels, ice, and floating objects may not be detected on radar at an adequate range.
  • The number, location and movements of vessels detected by radar in the area.
  • That radar delivers a more accurate assessment of visibility, landmasses and objects in the area and it can be used to determine the range of vessels and objects in the vicinity.

Canadian Modifications:

In Canadian waters, every vessel passing another vessel, or work including dredging, towing, grounded vessel or wreck in harbour, river, lake, inland waterway, or roadstead must proceed with caution, at a speed that will no affect the vessel or work being passed, and will comply with any instructions from any Notice to Mariners or Notice to Shipping. If a vessel cannot determine if their speed with affect the vessel or work, they must proceed with caution at the minimum speed that allows them to keep their course.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #7: Risk of Collision

Vessels must use all available means to determine the risk of a collision. This includes using your radar, or any other systems of observing and detecting objects.

If you detect a vessel and their distance is reducing and their compass bearing is not changing, then there is a risk of collision. Also, if there is any doubt then a risk of collision is deemed to exist.

There are no Canadian Modifications to this rule.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #8: Action to Avoid Collisions

Any actions to avoid a collision must be positive, obvious and made in good time.

There is no Canadian Modification to this rule.

Tips: don’t make course changes at the last minute. Make sure your course changes are significant, a good rule it too make a course change no less then 30 degrees when giving way.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #9: Narrow Channels

International Rule:

Any vessel entering a narrow channel must keep to starboard. All vessels must keep out of the way of larger vessels that have limited maneuverability. Additionally, vessels cannot cross a channel when it impedes another vessel that can only navigate within that channel.

Canadian Modifications:

In the Great Lakes, if a vessel that can only navigate within that channel has another vessel impede their passage, they must use the sound signal described in rule 34, indication that they are unsure of the crossing vessels actions.

On these waters vessels must use sound signals prescribed in rule 34 to indicate their intentions of maneuvering, or when they are in agreement of maneuvers.In Canadian waters, a fairway, barge or inconspicuous or partly submerged vessels or object cannot be navigation, moored or anchored in a way that impedes safe passage of any other vessels.

If the is a strong current or tidal stream and two power-driven vessels are approaching from opposite directions, the vessel travelling with the current is the stand on vessel. This vessel must indicate which side they intend to keep to. The vessel proceeding against the current must give way to the other vessel. Each vessel must signal accordingly.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Rule #10: Traffic Separation Schemes

International Rule:

Even if a vessel is in a traffic separation scheme is does not relieve any vessels from following other rules.

Vessels must cross traffic as close as they can to 90 degrees from the direction of traffic. This makes the crossing as quick as possible and reduces confusion from other vessels. If you need to enter and join traffic, you should do it at an angle as small as you can.

Canadian Modification:

In Canadian waters, a power-driven vessel longer than 20 meters (65 ft) must use the traffic scheme, and it’s routing systems to safely navigate to their destination. If there is a compelling reason not to enter the traffic scheme it must be recorded in the vessel’s logbook along with the traffic scheme.

Additionally, vessels engaged in fishing don’t have to comply with this rule and enter the traffic scheme. This also applies to vessels engaged in dredging, surveying, conducting underwater operations, or laying, servicing, or picking up a navigation mark, cable, or pipeline. If a vessel is launching or recovering an aircraft in the area can choose not to comply as well.

Vessels that are not complying with the traffic separation scheme cannot prevent other vessels entering and navigating the route safely, and they must identify themselves to approaching vessels and inform them of the location, intentions, and nature of their operations.

Additionally they must inform the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of the nature of their operation including the location and duration, as soon as possible before beginning operation.If a vessels is making a transatlantic voyage must avoid crossing the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador north of 43° north latitude, if possible.

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

All done this section!

To view the full document, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972 with Canadian Modifications. You should also check out COLREG's which is the abridged version of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

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