Nautical Rules of the Road
The nautical pathways traveled by vessels have rules and laws just like the roads driven by automobiles.
It is vitally important for your safety that you understand these rules and how we as paddlers are affected by them.
How does the rules of the road work on the water
1. Vessels such as kayaks have right-of-way over many other vessels because kayaks are human powered. However this does not mean that a fishing kayaker should challenge a freighter to get out of the way.
2. Mass tonnage wins every argument. Large ships are often constrained to one particular path due to their size and simply have no other place to go. Fishing boats pulling in nets or boats engaged in trawling also struggle to maneuver quickly.
3. The bottom line is that kayaks are often more maneuverable than large vessels and it is the responsibility of paddlers to get out of the way.
4. The buoys directing vessels in and out of port have little purpose for kayakers. It is much safer to paddle near the shore where the larger boats cannot go. When leaving port, vessels keep the red buoys on their left and the green buoys on their right. It is the opposite when returning from sea. Big boats will most always follow the paths marked by the buoys and kayakers should stay out of the way.
Be proactive and aware whenever your out on the water. Give way to other water users and be courteous and polite.