COLREGS Rule 8 explained

Rule 8 is seemingly very simple but can also be a little confusing particularly when trying to teach it to our students.. 

Firstly here's the rule in its entirety: 

(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules of this Part and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.


(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.


(c) If there is sufficient sea-room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.


(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.


(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.




(i) A vessel which, by any of these Rules, is required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel shall, when required by the circumstances of the case, take early action to allow sufficient sea-room for the safe passage of the other vessel.


(ii) A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel is not relieved of this obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision and shall, when taking action, have full regard to the action which may be required by the Rules of this Part.


(iii) A vessel the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the Rules of this Part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision.


So, an idea on how to teach it in a simplistic way that hopefully our students will understand: 

  • Action to avoid in Ample time 
  • Big course and/or speed change to be easily interpreted by other vessels
  • Course 
  • Distance is safe
  • Engine/s slowed or stopped or put into astern in order to avoid
  • a bit conFusing - in a simplistic sense (f) is referencing the need to not force a course or speed adjustment from the other vessel. 8F(iii) refers to interacting with vessels such as those whom are restricted in their ability to manoeuvere etc whom we should stay clear of almost (but not completely) regardless of F (a-e).

I stand very willing to be corrected on 8(f) but I believe this interpretation of the rules to be reasonable when teaching COLREGS to new boaters - if you have other information on the interpretation of this rule from a reliable source please email us on so we can amend accordingly.