The navigation rules of the sea are as important to your boating safety as our road rules are to your driving safety. Most collisions between vessels are a result of carelessness. To be a good skipper you need to follow specific guidelines.
Key Guidelines:

• Observe and follow the rules

• Maintain a proper lookout

• Travel at a safe speed

• Know the limits of your vessel

• Be aware of potential hazards

• Allow for the actions of others, both reasonable and unreasonable.

Give way rules at a glance:
Give way to the right and stay to the right.

If a power-driven vessel approaches on your port (left) side, you have right-of-way.

Maintain your speed and course, with caution. If it becomes obvious that the other vessel is not going to give way, then you should take the necessary steps to avoid a collision. Unless there’s no alternative, don’t turn to port to avoid a collision if you have right-of-way; that’s the most likely direction the other vessel will turn and you might cause a collision in trying to avoid one.

If a power-driven vessel approaches on your starboard (right) side, they have right-of-way. Stop, slow down or change course to keep out of their way. 

If any vessel approaches your stern, maintain your speed and course and proceed with caution so they can overtake you safely.


First Aid Afloat deals with some of the medical problems you may face on the water, including bites and stings, bleeding, burns, hypothermia, seasickness and sun exposure

Every vessel should carry a suitable first aid kit, which can be bought from your local Honda Marine dealer. The kit should contain adequate wound and burn dressings, and a booklet explaining basic first aid procedures.

Chemists stock simple kits that can be supplemented with sunscreen lotion, seasickness tablets, a felt-tip pen (for recording injuries and treatment, to inform medical staff if necessary) and a pair of side-cutting pliers for removing fishhooks. Clearly mark the kit as first aid and keep it in a sturdy, watertight container where anyone on board can reach it.

Bites and stings

Bites or stings from sea snakes and some jellyfish can cause breathing and circulation problems. It’s vital in all of these instances to keep the patient calm, assured and rested, monitor their airway, breathing and circulation (ABC) and get medical help urgently.

If necessary in the most serious cases, you may also need to begin resuscitation immediately and continue until medical help arrives.

The following steps are also recommended for particular bites and stings:


• Prevent patient from rubbing the area

• Pour vinegar over the affected area to deactivate the stinging capsules and prevent

further venom release

• Apply icepacks to relieve pain
Sea Snakes

• Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage to the affected limb.

Stingrays and other venomous spines

• Immerse area in water as hot as the patient can tolerate, to help relieve the pain.

• Don’t use pressure bandages (i.e. tourniquets).


Small cuts can be treated easily by washing with a disinfectant solution and closing with a suitable dressing. The most effective way to stop bleeding is to apply pressure directly to the wound. Elevating the limb also will help control bleeding.

If a patient has massive bleeding—from a propeller strike for example—you may have to apply a constrictive bandage as a last resort, but more standard bandaging—if it will stop the bleeding—is preferable.

• Use a broad (5-7.5 cm wide) soft rolled bandage, strip of material or wide belt

• Apply the bandage to the upper part of the limb to completely cover the arterial pulse, but keep clear of limb joints

• Encircle the limb several times

• If bleeding appears to increase, slowly release the bandage—this reduces the risk of a surge of blood increasing bleeding further—and reapply immediately

• Once correctly applied, record the time on the patient’s forehead.

• The bandage must not be covered up by clothing.

• Transport the patient to hospital as soon as possible.


Immediately and gently cool the burned skin with plenty of cold water (sea water is excellent). Never burst blisters or cut away clothing unless it’s a chemical burn, which might continue to eat into the clothing and skin beneath.

Cover the area lightly with a clean, dry, sterile burns dressing or clean cloth, and keep the patient calm and assured. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible.


Hypothermia is a serious medical condition resulting from heat loss due to prolonged immersion in water or insufficient protection in cold, wet or windy conditions, so it’s particularly relevant to boat users.

The loss of core body temperature in vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys can cause death quickly. The risk is increased if the person is anxious, hungry, exhausted or mentally low.

Hypothermia is not always easy to recognise. The person may no longer even feel cold, which can disguise the real risk.

Early signs of hypothermia may include:

• lethargy and difficulty in reasoning

• poor sense of touch and clumsiness

• slurred speech

• developing muscle rigidity

• swollen lips, hands and feet.

As the condition develops, more critical symptoms include:

• rigid muscles

• very slow, weak pulse and breathing

• uneven heartbeat

• unconsciousness

• cold and bluish-grey skin

• dilated and unresponsive pupils

• death-like appearance

To reduce the risk of hypothermia on board:

• keep warm and dry

• avoid fatigue—rest if tired

• eat and drink normally, to prevent dehydration

• avoid alcohol—it increases pulse rate and body heat loss

• avoid seasickness

• be aware of special medical needs

To slow the development of hypothermia in the water:

• put on extra clothing before entering the water— but be careful to choose clothing that won’t

absorb water and weigh you down too much

• protect the head, neck, hands, feet, chest and groin from heat loss

• minimise swimming and strenuous activity

• adopt the heat escape lessening posture

Careful treatment of a person with severe hypo-thermia is crucial and involves the following steps:

• Do not massage their skin

• Shelter them in a warm environment, away from wind and cold.

• Replace wet clothes with dry

• Keep them horizontal, in the ‘shock’ position (on their back, with legs bent and raised), and minimise their movement

• Restore core temperature gradually—the body’s shock at too-rapid warming can kill

• Share body warmth with them

• Breathe across their mouth and nose

• Apply gentle warmth to head, neck, chest and groin

• Give warm sweet drinks (not alcohol), if conscious

• Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if necessary

• Seek medical advice

• Keep them under continuous observation

Seasickness can be avoided in many cases if you sleep aboard the vessel the night before (subject to what type of vessel you have), to let your body get used to the motion. Of course, this is not always possible.

Otherwise, you can take seasickness tablets as advised by a doctor or chemist, but be aware that some may make you drowsy. Experienced sailors keep their diet free of rich, fatty foods and alcohol both before going to sea and while aboard.

If you feel seasick, keep busy and stay in the fresh air, away from enclosed areas where fuel fumes and food odours may collect. Avoid the ‘head down’ position, as this aggravates illness. Nibble on a dry biscuit, or chew barley sugar or dried fruit. Ginger is also considered a good remedy.

Sun exposure

Boat users are particularly susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, because of the additional radiation reflecting off the water. UV radiation is present during daylight all year, but is strongest between 11 am and 3 pm during daylight savings time (10 am to 2 pm other times).

Clothing offers the best sun protection: wear a long-sleeved shirt and a hat that covers the face, ears and neck (a dark colour under the brim will help reduce glare off the water). Also apply to exposed skin a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15+ and a lip sunscreen.

Apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before going out and reapply it every two hours.

To treat serious sunburn, apply a cool, moist compress to the affected area but do not break any blisters. Give plenty of fluids and seek medical attention quickly.


Before you secure your boat at a mooring, there are a couple of important steps to follow

Raptor 820CC leaving its mooring

  • Do you have approval?
  • Is the location protected from wind and tide 
  • Can it be easily accessed for use and 
  • Will it interfere with any other mooring or 
  • Will my vessel and those nearby have full 
swing clearance?
  • Is the mooring apparatus suitable for the 
If you are planning to put a mooring down, consider asking a professional to do it.

Picking up’ (attaching to) a mooring

  • Travel slowly
  • Observe other moored boats for an indication 
of wind and/or tidal flow
  • Don’t take boat positions as a guarantee of 
wind and current; different types of boats may lie in the opposite direction to the wind and/or current, as surface effects of wind may differ from general tidal or current effects
  • The small pick-up buoy can also be an indicator of drift direction
  • Approach slowly into the wind or against the tide, using the stronger of the two as a ‘brake’
  • Don’t overrun the mooring buoy (this risks fouling the propeller on mooring lines)
  • Use a boat hook to capture the pick-up buoy
  • Secure the line or chain to a bow cleat.

    Leaving a mooring

  • Warm up the engine
  • Check for other boats nearby
  • Travel slowly, and make sure your passengers and crew stay within the boat itself—not on the side decking or the bow, where they could block your view or risk injuring themselves.
  • If there is a heavy strain on the mooring, relieve this by using the motor to come up to it.
  • Release the chain or rope from the bow cleat, and drift back to clear the buoy before moving away. As you drift, check for trailing ropes that may get caught in your propeller.


There’s more to effective and safe anchoring than one thinks, here are some essential guidelines

To anchor safely is key


• Don’t anchor in marked channels.

• Select an anchorage that offers protection.

• Use the appropriate anchor for the area of operation

• Make sure the anchor line is attached to your vessel.

• Untangle and lay the line out before deploying.

• Move into the wind forward of where you want to end up and stop.

• Gradually drop the anchor – don’t just throw it overboard – and let it touch bottom. You
will drift back to your selected location.

• Allow for a scope of 3:1 (anchor line to depth of water) in normal conditions, and 5:1 in
rough conditions. The flatter the pull on the anchor, the better it will hold.

• Tie off the line to a forward cleat/ securing point.

• Adjust the length of line to the conditions.

• Display the prescribed lighting if anchoring at night.

• Monitor your anchor’s hold, as changing conditions can affect performance and vessel

• When it’s not in use, stow and lash the anchor securely.
Setting more than one anchor

  • For stronger holding in rough conditions, consider a second forward anchor spread apart from the first, so the boat forms the bottom of a ‘V’.
  • To hold the boat in one spot in calm conditions, such as when diving, use a stern anchor as well as the bow anchor.
  • It’s not easy for one person to set more than one anchor. Ask your crew to help in letting out anchor lines so they are not picked up by the propeller as you locate the place for the second anchor. Once the anchors are down, adjust the lines so the vessel is riding safely.



Boat Handling Under Adverse Conditions (Part 2) (Courtesy
Click here to view the Perfect Storm in reality:

Some of the most challenging conditions you may encounter as a skipper are the adverse conditions of “Heavy Weather.” The size of your boat does not have much to do with its seaworthiness. How it will handle adverse conditions is more or less built in during the design and construction. You should never use your boat for anything other than for what it was designed and its intended use. Don’t venture into waters or weather conditions which are beyond your boat’s design capabilities.

What may seem heavy weather to an inexperienced boater may not bother a seasoned and weather-wise skipper at all. The body of water on which you operate has a lot to do with how severe the conditions may get. While operating on deep and large bodies of water, wave action tends to build more slowly than on large waters that are more shallow. In deep waters, wind action may only cause moderate seas with slow, rolling swells, while in shallower waters that same wind force may make steep, breaking seas.

Know Your Boat
Handling your boat in heavy weather is as individual as the skipper himself. No two boats react exactly the same in the same sea conditions. Each hull design reacts differently to the sea variables–and even two boats with the same design may act differently depending on their load and trim. Every skipper must learn the idiosyncrasies of his own boat and know how it will react as conditions change.

Meeting Head Seas
In moderate seas you should be able to slow your speed in order to ride up and over the waves rather than driving the bow into them. You also don’t want to get to the top and the wave and fall off the back side burying the bow. If conditions get worse, slow down until you are making bare steerage way and hold your boat at an angle of 45° to the swells.

The more you reduce speed, the less strain will be put on the hull and superstructure. Continued pounding can pop out or break ports and windows. You really don’t want to see how much water can come in a 12″ porthole.

Running in the Trough
If your course dictates that you are running in the direction of the trough of waves (parallel to them) you must take extra caution. As your boat bounces up and down from trough to trough it may roll excessively and possibly dangerously.

In these conditions in a powerboat, it is best to change course and make a series of tacks, taking the wind and waves at a 45° angle, first broad on your bow and then broad on your quarter. This zig-zag course should leave your boat in the trough for only long enough to turn. You want to minimize the time that you are in the trough and broad side to the swell to prevent broaching.

Running Before the Sea
When the swells are coming from directly behind you, running before them can be difficult. Your boat’s stern can be swept up and pushed to one side or another. You want to make sure that you keep the stern perpendicular to the oncoming seas.

Another concern is when lifted up by heavy seas the boat tends to rush down the slope from the crest to the trough. Occasionally with the stern high, the propeller can come out of the water and race. The rudder also may lose contact with the water flow and be left useless. Again, the boat may yaw to one side and broach into the trough.

Another concern is sliding down the wave at a speed that buries the bow, and with the stern still being pushed up the possibility of pitchpoling exists. You might also want to try tacking before the seas, again taking the swells off one quarter and then the other. This is where you might consider a drogue. Towing a drogue helps slow your speed when running before the seas and can make controlling the stern in the proper position easier for the helmsman.

Heaving To
If conditions become so violent that you and your boat are taking too much punishment, you might consider heaving to. This maneuver, which varies by type of boat, is designed to keep the bow into or slightly off the wind and wave action.

In a power boat, forget your intended destination and bring the bow around into the wind and waves using just enough power to make bare steerage way while conserving fuel. If fuel becomes a concern you might consider deploying a sea anchor to fall back on to help keep the bow into wind and wave action with no power necessary. It also slows any drift that you may be making if a leeshore is a concern.

As mentioned before your best bet is to avoid severe weather, but if you can’t you should be prepared. This is a subject that should be approached with as many sources of reference as possible. The information provided here should not be relied on solely and is meant to only give an overview of the topic. You should read books about heavy weather boat handling, and you should practice the manoeuvres in light to moderate seas.