Memorial Day Weekend Boat Quiz: Do You Know These 7 Rules of the Water?

Memorial Day 2022 lands on Monday, May 30, marking the kick off to the 2022 boating season in many places across America. Throughout the country the excitement of getting back on the water to enjoy that summer boating lifestyle hangs palpably in the air, from the docks to the boat ramps. Right now, from Maine to the Carolinas, a lot of skippers are dusting off their chart plotters and trying to remember what the heck all of the buttons do.

Boat Party With Friends On Lake Powell

Above: Boat parties are a popular way to spend Memorial Day Weekend, as friends onboard a houseboat on Lake Powell illustrate. Remember to always boat responsibly and know the rules of the road. Photo by Ryan McVinney for Boat Trader.

For that reason, Memorial Day is also a great time for a refresher on the basic waterway rules of the road. Can you answer these seven questions, which are based on the U.S. Coast Guard’s navigation rules? (Answers can be found at the bottom of this page).

Waterway Rules Of The Road Quiz

1: Your powerboat is heading straight for a powerboat that’s coming in the opposite direction. What do you do to avoid a collision?

a. Alter your course to port
b. Alter your course to starboard
c. Blare the horn until the other skipper blinks

2: True or false: Rule 33 says that boats, depending on their size, should have a whistle, a bell and/or a gong as a means of signaling to other boats via sound.

a. True
b. False

3: When cruising through a narrow channel, a skipper should keep his boat:

a. As far to starboard as is safely possible
b. Near the center, to avoid shoaling at the edges
c. On a constant heading toward the nearest beach bar

4: Cruising powerboats have to keep out of the way of:

a. Commercial fishing vessels, but only when they have actually caught some fish
b. Sailboats, but only when the winds are weak and the sails are fluttering
c. Sailing vessels, fishing vessels and vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver, such as cargo and cruise ships

5: Boats 40 feet length overall or smaller are allowed to:

a. Skip to the head of the line when awaiting a bridge opening alongside larger craft
b. Substitute an all-round white light and sidelights for a larger array with a masthead light and sternlight
c. Take guests waterskiing and tubing in busy thoroughfares

6: True or false: A yacht that is more than 328 feet long must illuminate her decks at anchor, in addition to having all-round white lights on display:

a. True
b. False

7: One short blast of a boat’s horn means:

a. I intend to leave you on my starboard side
b. I intend to leave you on my port side
c. Get out of the way, man; I’m late for a clambake


Answer Key:

  1. B
  2. A
  3. A
  4. C
  5. B
  6. A
  7. B

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2018 and was last updated in May 2022 ahead of Memorial Day Weekend.

Written by: Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine www.CharterWave.com.

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