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    Estimated at about 20 hours of your time, depending on how much optional materials you care to cover, but you always work on your own schedule at your own pace.


    You can start at any time, and submit quizzes and discussion any time of day or night. The lesson quizzes must be submitted sequentially. You have one year to complete the course.

Course description

    This course covers all aspects of Navigation Rules, starting from the basics and ending with all you need to navigate safely according to the Rules. It is for power and sail vessels, large and small, recreational or professional. The Rules are the same for "...every description of water craft used as a means of transportation on water."


How the course works

    Please read the general description of How the Courses work. Those notes apply to all courses. You can sign up for a course anytime the enrollment is open. If the course has already begun, you can still join, but will need to submit the quizzes sequentially.


    There are no prerequisites for the Nav Rules Course. There are a few instances where knowledge of specific navigation techniques is presumed, but these will be referenced and explained as they arise. Those planning to use radar on their vessel, will find that our Radar Course is extremely valuable in applying the rules that relate to radar usage, but this is not a prerequisite for this course.

Student Objectives

  • Understand how the Rules are organized and how to quickly find a topic within them—even without the aid of our electronically searchable versions
  • Know and understand the basic definitions the rules are based upon
  • Understand the role and functions of a "proper watch"
  • Know who has the "right of way" in an encounter with another vessel and how this might depend upon where you are at the time
  • Know what to do when you have right of way and what to do when you don't
  • Understand what criteria you must use to maneuver to protect yourself when an approaching vessel is not obeying the Rules
  • Be able to identify vessel types and their relative course from the lights they show at night
  • Understand the role of sound signals and distinguish between signals to get attention versus signals that are warnings of danger and general maneuvering signals
  • Understand the role of radar in the navigation rules in all conditions of visibility
  • Understand how to maneuver when you detect vessels on the radar closing in on you that you cannot see visually
  • Understand the concepts and distinctions among: narrow channels, fairways, and vessel traffic lanes
  • Know the distinctions between the International Rules and the US Inland Rules
  • Understand the distinction between "risk of collision" and the "development of risk of collision"
  • Understand the concept of "close quarters"
  • Understand the distinction between "keeping clear" and "do not impede"


    This course will prepare you for any written test on the Navigation Rules from any organization on any level, especially those presented by the USCG as part of a licensing or seaman's exam or any other state or federal boating safety program. It is very easy to prove to yourself that you are ready for such testing, because this course includes access to the entire data base of all USCG exam questions, which you can practice with until you have mastered them.