There are countless reasons for hazardous situations resulting in risk of collision or grounding while on the water. Most of them include one specific fundamental when it comes to safe control of your vessel.

That fundamental is called advance and transfer. The diagram displays how this works. Let’s dissect this representation to its core and discover where the hazards reside in this important aspect of piloting.

Boating Safety Rule 8

All watercraft behave differently when underway, even those of the same design and class. Factors for this behavior include weight distribution, position of the pivot point, height of the center of gravity, environment, and other influences that always play an integral part of maneuvering and behavior of the vessel.

One of the most important responsibilities in navigation is to always know your position within reasonable accuracy, and be able to maneuver your vessel precisely. These tasks require three prime elements of safe navigation: speed, distance, and time.

And the elements are constantly changing. This has an immediate effect resulting with a dynamic shift in the shape of the curve for “advance and transfer.”

High speeds will give an extended “advance,” increasing the distance traveled in the original direction. This is the zone or area where a great percentage of the maneuvering risk is located.

One of the biggest misconceptions by inexperienced boat drivers is the vessel will act like a vehicle on a roadway. It may be similar in some respect, as if driving on ice or a slippery surface, but that’s where the resemblance ends.

There is a remedy, a control point, to “advance and transfer” that is easy to master. It is directed in the USCG Rules of the Road in various sections. The most notable:

Rule 8 – Action to Avoid Collision: If necessary to avoid a 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.

Next time you are driving your boat please remember there might just be a dangerous curve ahead.