SAIL- Safe Boating for Sailors and Whales

Collisions at sea can be just as dangerous for boaters as they are for whales.  Sharing the Seas helps ensure safe passage for sailors and marine life by providing captains and crew with safe boating techniques around whales.

Whether you’re a recreational or professional sailor, you can review the below SAIL tips before hitting the water and familiarize yourself with local whale species and habitat you may encounter.

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This acronym SAIL empowers sailors to utilize safe boating techniques that reduce disturbances and injury to whales and your crew.

Safe boating practices

Maintain a safe distance for their safety and yours: 100ft. Approach limit for all marine mammal species. By US law, you must stay 1,500ft. away from N. Atlantic right whales. Reduce your speed and post a lookout

Alert authorities to important sightings

For right whale sightings and/or dead, entangled, ship struck or injured marine mammals and sea turtles, call 1-866-755-NOAA or call the US Coast Guard on Ch. 16.

Important information

Understanding protected species and their behavior is important for your safety.

Limit litter

Marine debris kills thousands of marine animals each year and enters the human food chain. It also causes millions of dollars of damage to vessels and coastal economies through warped propellers, fouled engines, and decreased tourism. Prevention is vital: do not let your trash go overboard.

Thank you for sailing safely! Download your own reference sheet (preview below) and printable field guide

Don’t forget to check out our dive deeper page for more helpful information.


Know who you share the waters with! Our expert team of marine biologists can consult with you to deliver a whale awareness training, lecture or workshop for your yacht club or boating facility.  We are here to help your organization learn more about marine mammals.  You’ll also receive resources and tips for safe boating practices for the protection of both sailors and marine species. For more information on a training session or whale conservation please fill out the comment form below.


When you are on the water, help us help the whales. Be informed when authorities need assistance locating or monitoring a sick or injured whale.  Simply use the comment form to provide us with your name, email, and location, then check the box above the comment section. We will send you an email with a description of any whales in need of help in your area. If you see the whale, simply report it to the Coast Guard on VHF 16 or call 1-866-755-NOAA.

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We are grateful for the support of  US Sailing and Sailors for the Sea.

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