Constant Bearing/Collision Avoidance


  • Practice and develop the skill of using a constant bearing to determine the risk of a collision and then take action to avoid a collision with the stand-on boat by passing astern of it.

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Equipment: 3 buoys
  • Set 3 buoys in an equilateral triangle.
  • Distance between buoys depends on whether the drill will be conducted at high speed or slow speed.

Conducting the Drill:

  • The stand-on boat proceeds from a buoy to the empty buoy on the right side of the triangle.
  • The give-way boat starts from the third buoy and steers to intercept the stand-on boat before it reaches its buoy.
  • The maneuvering give-way boat alters course as necessary to initially maintain a constant bearing approach and then as the boats near maneuvers to pass astern.
  • The maneuvering give-way boat then proceeds to the stand-on start buoy to act as the stand-on boat.

Teaching Tips:

  • For beginning operators, this drill should be conducted at slow speed.
  • For advanced operators, this drill can be conducted at high speed.

Common Errors:

  • Give-way boat cannot adjust course properly and/or in a timely manner to get on a constant bearing approach.
  • Stand-on boat cannot maintain its prescribed course and makes it difficult for the gave-way boat to establish a constant bearing approach.


  • Safe Powerboating Handling On-Water Skill Standard 4.11 and its rubrics
  • Start Powerboating Right! textbook pp. 108, 109