Rules for Sailing in Greece

Do you know the rules for sailing in Greece? If you have some experience in sailing, you probably know about most of the rules of the road (as they are called) while at sea.

However, when sailing in Greece, you will find yourself among ferry boats, motor boats, sailing yachts, motor sailers, catamarans, flying dolphins and anything that floats and carries people.

Therefore, you need to be extra cautious and follow the rules for sailing in Greece religiously.

Rules for sailing in Greece

rules for sailing in greece

Just like cars, boats have rules which govern what happens when they meet each other on the sea.

In the rules for sailing in Greece given below, a rule with a lower number takes precedence over a rule with a higher number (e.g. If a power boat approaches a sailing boat head-on [rule 7], the power boat gives way [rule 2]).

  1. Everyone gives way to vessels constrained by depth or at anchor
  2. Power gives way to sail
  3. Sail vs sail : a boat port tack gives way to starboard tack
  4. Sail vs sail : if on the same tact, the windward boat gives way to leeward boat
  5. Sail vs sail : gybing or tacking gives way to sailing
  6. Power vs Power (at an angle) : give way to starboard
  7. Power vs Power (head on) : turn to starboard, pass port to port
  8. Overtaking : boat overtaking gives way

In some areas, like marinas or sea lanes, there might be special rules. For example in a shipping lane used by big ships all other vessels must give way since these ships take about an hour to stop or turn.

Small boats approaching a sea lane must cross at right angles and not travel within the lane. Note: a sailing boat is only a sailing boat when the sails are up, if the motor is on, it’s a power boat, therefore the proper rules apply in this case.

Additional navigational rules for sailing in Greece

  • Navigation lights are required by law to prevent collisions, damage to boats, injuries and loss of life.
  • Lights are white, red, and green. Power boats, tow boats and sailing boats have different lighting.
  • Power boats – The forward white light must be seen from forward and either side. An aft light must be higher than the forward light and at a distance from the forward light to permit oncoming boats to estimate a direction. The two lights form a “range” so that if one is seen directly over the other, the approaching boat will know they are headed for a head-on collision. If the forward lower light is left of the higher aft light the red port side light will be seen and the boats can pass port-to-port safely as each boat holds its course.
  • If a boat does not have an aft range light, it must carry a stern white light.
  • Boats underway might carry a red light to port and a green light to starboard.
  • Tug boats – A tug with tow alongside or pushed ahead must carry a bow white light plus two vertical white lights on a mast at a distance behind the bow light. A tug with a tow astern must carry a bow white light plus three vertical white lights on a mast at a distance behind the bow light.
  • Sail boats – A boat propelled by sails alone must carry a combination red-green bow light plus a stern white light.
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