Boating requires rules and regulations
for a safe environment. The Navigation Rules are endorsed worldwide, and
the U.S. divides these rules into Inland rules applicable to coastal
waters within certain Demarcation Lines, and International Rules which
apply beyond those lines. Along with the Rules of the Road, there are
State and Federal boating regulations and equipment requirements.
Each State has Rules, Regulations and Statutes which apply within their jurisdiction. Not
discussed here are regulations and bylaws which some cities and towns may
impose in addition to Federal and State Regulations. You should check with
your local Harbormaster or city/town officials to see if there are any
additional regulations which apply to your home port. Every boater should
know the rules that apply to their area of operation.
These rules and regulations are enforced by
the Coast Guard, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, and the Harbormasters and/or Police in your area. Be safe for
yourself and others on the water!
Here you'll find valuable resources to
help you find relevant information for safe and prudent boating.
Chart #1 (Chart Symbols) - Of course it helps if you know how to
interpret all the symbols on nautical charts! This reference
publication depicts basic chart elements and explains nautical chart
symbols and abbreviations.
Notice to Mariners
Updated weekly, the USCG Notice to Mariners
provides timely marine safety information for the correction of all US
Government navigation charts and publications. The Notices can be downloaded for free.
- The Coast Pilots are 9 text volumes containing information important to
navigators such as channel descriptions, port facilities, anchorages,
bridge and cable clearances, currents, prominent features, weather,
dangers, and Federal Regulations. They supplement the charts and are available from official NOAA chart
agents or download them for free on their website.
- These publications contain a list of lights, sound signals, buoys, daybeacons,
and other aids to navigation. They can be downloaded for free.
- U.S. Inland Rules apply to vessels operating inside the line of
demarcation while International Rules apply outside the lines.
Demarcation lines are printed on most navigational charts and are
published in the Navigation Rules.
(Aids to Navigation)
- The waters of the United States and its territories are marked to assist
navigation by the U.S. Aids to Navigation System. This system employs a
simple arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers and light characteristics
to mark navigable channels, waterways and obstructions adjacent to
Aids to Navigation can provide a boater with
the same type of information drivers get from street signs, stop signals,
road barriers, detours and traffic lights. These aids may be anything from
lighted structures, beacons, day markers, range lights, fog signals and
landmarks to floating buoys. Each has a purpose and helps in determining
location, getting from one place to another or staying out of danger. The
goal of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System is to promote safe navigation
on the waterway.
U.S. Aids to Navigation System is intended for use with Nautical Charts.
Charts are one of the most important tools used by boaters for planning
trips and safely navigating waterways. Charts show the nature and shape of
the coast, buoys and beacons, depths of water, land features, directional
information, marine hazards and other pertinent information. This valuable
information cannot be obtained from other sources, such as a road map or
components of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System are beacons and buoys.
Beacons are aids to navigation structures that
are permanently fixed to the earth's surface. They range from lighthouses
to small, single-pile structures and may be located on land or in the
water. Lighted beacons are called lights; unlighted beacons are called
daybeacons. Beacons exhibit a daymark to make them readily visible and
easily identifiable against background conditions. Generally, the daymark
conveys to the boater, during daylight hours, the same significance as
does the aid's light or reflector at night.
Buoys are floating aids that come in many
shapes and sizes. They are moored to the seabed by concrete sinkers with
chain or synthetic rope moorings of various lengths connected to the buoy
body. They are intended to convey information to the boater by their shape
or color, by the characteristics of a visible or audible signal, or a
combination of two or more such features.