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What Is a Stand on Vessel? – Stand-on vs Give-away Vessels

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what is a stand on vessel

It is always essential for boaters to understand the terms used in certain boating situations, such as stand-on. This is one of the two phrases created to identify boats crossing paths.

“What is a stand on vessel?” Depending on the case, your boat will be called a “stand-on boat” or “giveaway craft.” It is the boat operator’s responsibility to recognize their boat’s role and apply stand on or give away vessel rules.

Thankfully, this article has everything you need to know about stand on crafts as well as give away vessels.

Also, other tips in distinguishing give-away and stand-on vessels while traveling will be highlighted, so make sure to follow us until the end!

The Give Away and Stand on Vessel Definition


Firstly, we will introduce boaters to the meanings of stand-on boats and give-way vessels. Both stand-on and give-way crafts have their own obligations depending on the scenario, allowing boaters to safely and predictably traverse the seas.

A stand-on boat is the one that has the right of way currently. When two vessels approach each other, the stand-by vessel has three responsibilities. The stand on vessel needs to maintain its present speed and direction, retain a lookout, as well as remain vigilant.

Meanwhile, the give-away vessel will need to commute first and leave the current area of the stand-on vessel. As two boats approach, the give-way vessel’s responsibility is to take immediate and decisive action to avert a collision.

How Is the Rule of Thumb Applied in Identifying Stand on and Give Away Vessels

When it comes to identifying stand-on and give-away vessels, boaters can apply the rule of thumb: a stand-on vessel is the one that arrives from the port side, and when a craft approaches another boat from its starboard side, the craft is a give-away vessel. Plus, while approaching a boat that is unmanned, has restricted mobility, or is engaged in commercial activities, the power-driven craft will be the give-way one.

Give your watercraft enough space to maneuver when you notice it’s moving in water which is too shallow for safe travel. Regardless of the conditions, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead of time and take the necessary steps to avoid mishaps. Remember to keep in touch with your other boat operators as well.

Furthermore, boaters should install dependable VHF transmitters like Uniden, Cobra, or Standard Horizon to communicate with other sailors and stay informed about what’s going on.

Stand on Vessels’ Maneuvering in Different Situations


The ways of identifying a boat’s role varies depending on the situation boaters are encountering. Here are three most popular scenarios that boat operators may face while commuting on water.

1. Overtaking

Overtaking another boat involves approaching its stern. On each of the other vessel’s sides, you keep moving ahead. The craft that overtakes will be known as the give-way vessel. Hence, it is required to maneuver to avoid collisions.

When passing a watercraft astern at night, you’ll most likely notice the stand-on craft’s stern light. The give-away vessel must make the first move to maneuver cautiously around it.

Horns will also be used to communicate between the two vessels in this case. Quality ones are made by Seasense, Marinco, FIAMM, and Amarine. The overtaking vessel will begin to signal their presence and movements.

For instance, you can make two short blasts to inform the stand-on vessel that you will overtake their port side. Meanwhile, signaling one short blast for the intention to pass astern from their starboard side is another option.

2. Crossing paths

When two motor vessels are passing in a way that there is a chance of collision, both international and inland rules specify that the vessel with the other boat on its starboard side, also known as the give-way craft, shall stay out of the path.

It is your responsibility as the give-way boat’s operator to avoid collisions. This usually requires changing your speed and direction to pass behind the stand-on vessel on the opposite side.

If you observe a red light passing from right to left crossing your sight at night, it is necessary for you to modify the direction. You are currently the stand-on watercraft if you notice a green light passing from left to right. Sustain your course and velocity.

Also, boaters should keep in mind that pleasure boats under 20 feet in length are expected to take immediate and decisive action to make way for commercial vessels. It makes no difference whether they’re propelled by a motor or by hand.

These recreational boats, and also their fishing gear, are notorious for their poor mobility. Because large, deep-draft watercraft can’t move rapidly, they can also be identified as a stand-by vessel.

3. Meeting head-on

Finally, when two boats meet head-on, there are certain rules that they need to follow. Please read these guidelines carefully and apply them in a suitable manner:

  • If the wind is blowing from the same direction on both boats, the craft traveling along the windward direction should act as the stand-on vessel to the one staying on the leeward side.
  • When a sailboat with the wind on its port side encounters a boat to windward together with an unknown wind flow, the former needs to give way.
  • When two vessels are encircled by wind within opposite directions, the boat with the flow on its port side must yield to the one with the wind coming from the starboard side.

For more details, please check out this video:


The task of identifying stand-on vessels and give-away vessels while commuting is essential for boaters to avoid unwanted collisions. Understanding what a stand-on vessel is will help you acquire enough information to deal with various situations. You need to have enough knowledge about what the stand-on vessel must do unless you want to put passengers in danger.

We hope that the above information on what is a stand on vessel is useful during your boating experience. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let us know and leave a comment below.

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