Round the World Sailing Rules

Round the World Sailing Rules
Sailing around the world, also known as the Magellan Cruise, is an event fraught with problems waiting to be solved, including weather, intractable officialdom, pirates, storms and freshets, and high winds and seas that will make your heart skip one or two beats out of three. Other hazards include large ships, which you should avoid, and amateurs who don't know navigation rules exist. In spite of these minor difficulties, sailing around the world is an unforgettable experience, introducing you to new cultures and allowing you to visit places that aren't usually "on the tour" for larger ships.

Use the Sailing Directions

The Sailing Directions, both the Planning Guide and the Enroute Directions, provide information on routes and destinations, the latitude and longitude of ports, information on port facilities, and what radio channels to use to communicate and obtain weather information.

Understand the COLREGS

"COLREGS" is the acronym for the Regulations for Prevention of Collision at Sea. These international rules tell you all you need to know about right of way in overtaking (passing), crossing (where you cross the course of another boat) or head on (where you meet a boat coming at you) situations, and about required lights and horn signals.

Golden Rule of the Sea in Foreign Waters

"The Golden Rule of the Sea" is also called the "Law of Gross Tonnage." This is not a formal rule, but a warning to smaller vessels to stay out of the way of larger boats, even if the COLREGS give you the right of way because you are a sailboat. More than one ship has arrived in a foreign port with a mast and rigging hanging from its anchor because a sailboat forgot the Law of Gross Tonnage.

Article Written By Will Charpentier

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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