143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 4 X Personal Watercraft

PWC NAVIGATIONAL RULES AND AIDS Navigational Rules Operating a personal watercraft in some ways is a lot like driving a vehicle, because you must follow rules of the road and obey signs. But operating a PWC is also different from driving a car or motorcycle, because when you release the vessel’s throttle, you lose steering ability and you have no brakes to help you stop.


Meeting head-on

When two boats meet head-on, each must keep to the right (starboard). When crossing, the boat to the right is the stand-on vessel. The stand-on vessel continues on a steady course and speed. The give-way vessel should slow and turn to starboard if necessary, and carefully pass the stand-on vessel astern (behind it). When you overtake another boat from behind (the stern), you are the give-way vessel. The boat being overtaken should hold course and speed. Pass with care on the right or left of the stand-on vessel. Other boats, such as commercial fishing boats, deep draft ships, sailboats, or other non-motorized vessels cannot maneuver as well and have the right-of-way over personal watercraft.



Overtaking another boat

stand-on vessel


give-way vessel

Navigational Aids Buoys and signs mark the waterways for all vessels (see page 42). When operating a PWC, the most important signs to recognize are the ones that read “NO WAKE” and “5 MPH.” All boaters must obey these signs.


stand-on vessel

give-way vessel


California Course for Safe Boating

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