Navigating safely Do you navigate safely…at all times?

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Safe navigation, sounds simple doesn’t it but why are there more and more incidents happening due to poor navigation?

Navigating safely Do you navigate safely…at all times?

Too many Master’s simply become complacent or don’t take it seriously enough which results in accidents causing injuries or death or damage to infrastructure.

Navigating safely is something we all should do every time we or our crew operate our vessels!

Unfortunately, it’s not always the case and that can be for a number of reasons, one of which there is no set procedure for safe operation.

While on commercial vessels Masters have been trained in the COLREGS there are a few that seem to disregard their responsibility in navigating safely.

On recreational vessels owners or Masters do not go through the same level of training as commercial Masters which has been a common cause of marine incidents over the years.

In order to protect you as a vessel owner and/or operator developing a procedure for navigating your vessel safely provides you with a level of protection should your Master decide not to follow the procedure. This applies to both commercial and recreational vessels!

So…let’s look at what’s required in your procedure to provide that level of protection…

  • Ensure all relevant crew are trained and are competent in the use of the vessel’s navigation equipment such as radar, compass, GPS and other devices
  • Inspect, maintain or have serviced all of the vessel’s navigation aids
  • Update charts, information, etc… relevant to your operations
  • Plan voyages
  • Sounding appropriate signals such as going astern
  • Monitoring of the vessels position by all available means
  • Following procedures for operating in restricted visibility
  • Communicating with other vessels
  • Monitoring auto pilot

These are the basic steps required to ensure your procedure for navigating safely covers the requirements.

You need to include any specific steps that may be relevant to your vessel and its operations to ensure you meet those requirements.

When developing your procedure, you need to take into account the size and type of your vessel, vessel operations and where you operate. While the principals are the same navigating in the open ocean has different requirements to operating in rivers and bays.

This is a simple but vital procedure to incorporate in your SMS but so many people either don’t write it appropriately or miss it altogether.

Also, there is a significant difference in navigating safely on a clear sunny day to navigating at night or in restricted visibility. Much greater care needs to be taken when navigating at night or in restricted visibility due to the increased dangers involved.

All too often we see vessels, both commercial and recreational being operated at night or in periods of restricted visibility as though it was a clear sunny day!

Vessel speed, lack of attention or being distracted are the cause of accidents which have resulted in injuries through to loss of life and/or damage to infrastructure or the environment.

Many if not all of these incidents could have been avoided by practicing safe navigation!

Navigating safely also has a direct linkage to watchkeeping which we’ll go into next week.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to either review your Navigating Safely procedure or if you don’t have one get it in place today!

While we all like to think our crew will navigate our vessel safely unfortunately it’s not always the case that’s why having a Navigating Safely procedure in place is critical.


Use the dot point items in this newsletter to get you underway with updating your procedure or developing one if you don’t already have it in place.

If you have any problems developing your Navigating Safely procedure or feel you have special circumstances don’t hesitate to contact our office for assistance as we’re here to help you!

Stay safe by navigating safely at all times!