5 things you need to learn on the water

What our managing editor, Michelle Kelly, learned on her first trip in the driver's seat

By Michelle KellyMichelle Kelly


Photo by Ian Brown

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Rights of way

The vessel being overtaken has the right of way. The boat approaching from the right, or starboard, also has right of way; the boat coming from the left, or port side, must make clear they intend to yield. If two boats approach head on, stay to the right. When in doubt, give way no matter who is in the right. Always yield to boats under power of sail and boats of limited manoeuvrability (the Segwun steamship, for example).

What to have onboard

You’ll need more than just your shades and 
sunscreen. All boats are required by law to have specific safety equipment. Visit cottagelife.com/boating to find out which items are necessary for your boat.


Although it may seem like a good way to slow down in 
a hurry, shifting into neutral won’t necessarily reduce your speed, and steer-
ing control is reduced dramatically when the prop isn’t turning.

The blower…

is a fan in an inboard 
or sterndrive engine’s compartment that keeps the space free of potentially explosive fumes. Turn it on for about four minutes before starting the engine, or you risk an engine fire, or worse. You don’t have to leave it on while underway, but 
it won’t hurt and, on new boats, it’s so quiet you won’t notice it anyway.


Nothing to do with your waistline, trim is the angle of the drive leg or propeller to the transom of the boat. It controls how high or low the bow rides. Generally, you have the trim ”in” (drive leg closer to the transom) at low speeds or when coming onto a plane, and trim ”out” for higher speeds.

This article was originally published on May 3, 2007

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