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  • Safety Pages

    Rules of the Road

    The Rules of the Road are a set of rules much like the rules of the road on the highway. They establish a consistent way to navigate safely and avoid collisions. All human-powered boaters should become familiar with these rules for their own safety and that of others.

    Rules of the Road PDF



U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

Emergency Contact Information

To reach the U.S. Coast Guard:

If you have a mobile phone, call 911 or call the Coast Guard directly (415) 556-2103 or (415) 556-2105. Be aware that mobile phones may not have a signal and that the battery needs to be charged. A phone needs to be kept in a waterproof bag.

Hand held VHF radios have a more reliable signal than cell phones. Most hand held VHF radios are waterproof and can fit in the pocket of a personal flotation device. Make sure to carry extra batteries (and put your radio in a waterproof bag if your model is not waterproof). To make a distress call, make sure the radio is on and select Channel 16. Press/Hold the transmit button and clearly say that you are requesting help. Also give a description, the location, and nature of emergency. Release transmit button. If there is no response, repeat the call.

If you need to contact a commercial vessel to arrange for a safe passing, select Channel 13 and explain your location and situation to the vessel.

To get help from other boaters

To get help from other boaters, use signals such as flares, orange flag, lights, arm signals, whistles, or your radio. You are required by law to help boaters in trouble. Respond to distress signals, but do not endanger yourself.