Rule 10 - Traffic Separation Schemes
(a) This Rule applies to traffic separation schemes [ adopted by the Organization ] and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other rule.
(b) A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall:
(i) Proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane.
(ii) So far as is practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone.
(iii) Normally join or leave a traffic lane at the termination of the lane, but when joining or leaving from either side shall do so at as small an angle to the general direction of traffic flow as practicable.
(c) A vessel, shall so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes but if obliged to do so shall cross on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow.
(d) (i) A vessel shall not use an inshore traffic zone when she can safely use the appropriate traffic lane within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However, vessels of less than 20 meters in length, sailing vessels and vessels engaged in fishing may use the inshore traffic zone.
(ii) Notwithstanding Rule 10(d)(i), a vessel may use an inshore traffic zone when en route to or from a port, offshore installation or structure, pilot station or any other place situated within the inshore traffic zone, or to avoid immediate danger.
(e) A vessel, other than a crossing vessel or a vessel joining or leaving a lane shall not normally enter a separation zone or cross a separation line except:
(i) in cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger;
(ii) to engage in fishing within a separation zone.
(f) A vessel navigating in areas near the terminations of traffic separation schemes shall do so with particular caution.
(g) A vessel shall so far as practicable avoid anchoring in a traffic separation scheme or in areas near its terminations.
(h) A vessel not using a traffic separating scheme shall avoid it by as wide a margin as is practicable.
(i) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane.
(j) A vessel of less than 20 meters (65') in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.
(k) A vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver when engaged in an operation for the maintenance of safety of navigation in a traffic separation scheme is exempted from complying with this Rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
(l) A vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver when engaged in an operation for the laying, servicing or picking up of a submarine cable, within a traffic separation scheme, is exempted from complying with this Rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
Admittedly we do not see Traffic Separation Schemes here on the mid and upper Chesapeake Bay however you will find them at the Virginia Capes if you are down there fishing as well as many other coastal ports that handle large amounts of heavy commercial traffic. This is primarily an International Rule although there is a very brief reference to it under the Inland Rules section. It is interesting to take a look at one of these Traffic Separation Schemes on a Nautical Chart if you have one available, chart 12280 is a good one showing the approaches to the Chesapeake Bay. The Traffic Separation Schemes lends guidance to an orderly entrance and egress from our bay. Even more noticeable on 12280 if you look closely you will see a special lane for large military (ie Aircraft Carriers) and deep draft commercial vessels entering and leaving the bay.