An addendum by Henry Wellington Wack, In Thamesland, 1906.

Quite unlike the unsettled rules of personal conduct on the roads and rivers elsewhere, are the courtesies which have long prevailed on the highways and byways of England. The universal application of unwitten laws, the innate politeness, and orderliness of the English at play, have established what may be termed the rule of the road on English rivers.

[ I had initially formulated some sarcastic remarks about Americans not knowing better that to call a "rowing boat" a "rowboat". Unfortunately I have now established that the ROWING ALMANACK quoted was an English publication. So, not for the only time on this site, Henry Wellington Wack, you are forgiven. (All the same, I ask you, "rowboats"?) ]

The ROWING ALMANACK has formulated the following code:
It is the usual practice on the river for a pair-oar to give way to a four-oar, and for a four-oar to give way to an eight-oar, more, perhaps, as a matter of courtesy than from any strict right, for there is no rule compelling such action.
A rowboat going against the stream or tide should take the shore or bank - which bank is immaterial - and should keep inside all boats meeting it.
A rowboat going with the stream or tide should take a course in mid-river, and should keep outside all boats meeting it.
A rowboat overtaking another boat proceeding in the same direction, should keep clear of the boat it overtakes, which should maintain its course.
A rowboat meeting another end-on, in still or open waters or lakes, should keep on the right, as in walking, leaving the boat passed on the port or left side.
A rowboat with a coxswain should give way to a boat without a coxswain, subject to the foregoing rules in so far as they apply.
A boat towing with stream or tide should give way to a boat towing against it; and if it become necessary to unship or drop a tow-line, the former should give way to the latter; but when a barge towing is passed by a pleasure boat towing, the latter should give way and go outside, as a small boat is the easier of the two to manage; in addition to which, the river is the barge's highway.
A rowboat must give way to a sailing-boat.
When a rowboat and a steamer pass each other, their actions should, as a rule, be governed by the same principles as on two rowboats passing; but in shallow waters the great draught of the steam vessel should be remembered, and the rowboat give way to her.

River Cherwell