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Operating in a Narrow Channel

July 29, 2022

Navigating in a narrow channel can be particularly dangerous, since visibility and maneuverability are often reduced. Boaters should take care to follow the international rules for narrow channel navigation, which can be found in the Canadian Collision Regulations.

When operating in a narrow channel, vessels must stay as close to the starboard edge of the channel as is safe and practical. Boaters should keep a weather eye out for other vessels, particularly when rounding a bend or other obstruction, and avoid anchoring in a narrow channel unless absolutely necessary in order to avoid boat collisions.

Determining which vessel has the right of way

If you encounter other boats in a narrow channel, it’s particularly important to determine which vessel has the right of way. Generally speaking, the right of way is given to the vessel that is deemed to have less maneuverability.

If you are heading upstream in a power-driven vessel, all power-driven vessels coming in the opposite direction (downstream) have the right of way. This is because boats heading upstream can usually maneuver more easily than those going downstream.

If you are operating a sailboat, a fishing vessel or a craft under 20 m, or if you are crossing the channel, you must take care not to get in the way of larger vessels that are constrained by their deep draft. In a narrow channel, boats with a deeper draft will often be constrained to specific areas, giving them less maneuverability than smaller vessels.

Boat safely with Drive a Boat Canada

There is a lot of information that pleasure craft operators need to know in order to boat safely. That’s why the Canadian law requires pleasure boaters to take a safety course and pass a boating exam online or in person to obtain their boating license. Register for your course today to learn everything you need to know about safe boating practices!