Rules and Regulations
For more specific information on Alabama Waterways, please visit http://www.outdooralabama.com/boating/rules-regulations.cfm.
“Rules of the Road” according to the Alabama Department of Conservation are as follows:
- Vessels passing head-on shall keep to the right.
- Vessels overtaking another vessel may do so on either side, but must grant the right-of-way to the vessel being over-taken. When vessels are passing at right angles, the vessel on the left will yield right of way to vessel on the right.
- Motorboats shall yield right-of-way to non-motor powered boats except as follows:
- a) When being overtaken by non-powered vessels.
- b) For deep draft vessels that have to remain in narrow channels.
- c) When vessel is towing another vessel.
- Motorboats must maintain a direct course when passing sailboats.
- Any vessel approaching a landing dock or pier shall yield the right-of-way to any departing vessel.
- Any vessel departing shoreline or tributary shall yield right-of-way to through traffic and vessels approaching shoreline or tributary.
- Vessels will not abruptly change course without first determining that it can be safely done without risk of collision with another vessel.
- If an operator fails to fully understand course of an approaching vessel he must slow down immediately to a speed barely sufficient for steerageway until the other vessel has passed.
- Vessels yielding right-of-way shall reduce speed, stop, reverse, or alter course to avoid collision. Vessel with right-of-way shall hold course and speed. If there is danger of collision, all vessels will slow down, stop, or reverse until danger is averted.
- Vessels will issue warning signals in fog or thick weather.
- No mechanically propelled vessel shall be operated in a circular course around any other vessel or any person swimming.
- In a narrow channel, vessels will keep to the right of mid-channel.
- Vessels approaching or passing another vessel shall be operated in such manner and at such rate of speed as will not create a hazardous wash or wake.
- No vessel shall obstruct or interfere with take-off, landing, or taxiing of aircraft.
- All vessels shall be operated at reasonable speeds for given situations and must be under the completed control of the operator at all times.
- No person shall, under any circumstances, operate a vessel in excess of an established speed zone.
- No vessel or person shall obstruct or block navigation channel, entrance to channel, mooring slip, landing dock, launching ramp, pier or tributary.
- Vessels shall keep at least 100 feet clearance of displayed diver’s flag.
- Operator shall maintain a proper lookout.