Seafarers are urged to exercise due care in the water. (FP)

Recent collisions at sea, the latest of which involved a cruise ship and a fishing boat, have prompted officials to urge all sea users to observe the seven basic rules of the sea.

Shipping Superintendent at the Ministry of International Transport, Walter Best, explained that the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea outlined seven basic guidelines to ensure the safety of all those using the sea either for business or pleasure.

He noted that the first of these guidelines was that when at sea, persons should pay attention to the general direction in which boats were going to determine if they might collide. "If you cannot determine if it is safe, just assume that there might be a collision," he advised.

The second rule which Mr. Best wanted operators to observe was that "when two boats are on the same tack, or same general direction, and continued sailing may lead to a possible collision, the windward boat should keep clear of the leeward boat".

The third rule is that "when two boats are on the opposite tacks or opposite directions and continued sailing may lead to a possible collision, the boat on the port tack (left) should keep clear of the one on starboard tack (right)".?? Fourthly, "when one boat is overtaking another, the faster boat must keep clear of the one being overtaken".

Mr. Best said the fifth rule which should be observed was that "power boats should give way to boats driven by wind (by sail), or manual force (oars). The latter should give way to vessels out of control, vessels with limited control and fishing boats".

The sixth rule to be followed is that "the boat that has the priority for continued sailing should keep its course and speed, but be prepared to give way to avoid collision with another boat if it does not alter its course in time".

The final rule as set out by the regulations state that "if in doubt, always give way first for the sake of safety".

Mr. Best urged all those using the water to be aware and utilise these rules for the sake of safety.


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