How to pass a fishing boat and why should boaters slow down while passing recreational fishing boats? Just like when you’re driving on the road, maneuvering a boat or any marine vehicle requires full awareness of traffic rules. Learning the navigational rules isn’t just for courtesy – it’s to promote the safety of everyone on the water.
It’s, therefore, crucial to learn how to pass a fishing boat. Ignorance of relevant laws and regulations is never an excuse for putting your life and the lives of others at risk. So, which side do you pass a boat on? All these and more will be tackled in this article. Read on!
The Importance of Learning How to Pass a Fishing Boat
As per the regulations set by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), you should pass boats on the right side. But, there are more rules that you need to learn if you want to know how to moor boats and reef sailboats.
Know the Exceptions
You already know that you should be on the right side of a boat when passing it. However, there are certain exceptions. In most cases, you’ll need to use common sense in knowing when and how to break this particular rule.
For instance, when a boat has cast a fishing line or net port-side, then it will make sense for you to pass the boat from the other side. Additionally, captains have to communicate constantly. When another boat asks to pass through on the left, follow the instructions.
If the other boat’s captain isn’t aware of the rules, you also need to take control. You need to determine the right side that you need to be passing on. Yes, even when it means you’ll be passing on the left rather than the right.
You can communicate by honking. It’s customary for boats to honk once to pass onto the starboard side. Then, wait for a honk in reply. When you hear the other boat honking once, that’s your signal to go ahead.
When passing port-side, you should blast twice then wait for a reply which should be a double-blast. This is the other boat signaling to go ahead.
Tips on How to Pass a Fishing Boat
Aside from the ones that we’ve mentioned above, here are some things you need to be aware of when navigating a boat on the water:
Know the Water
Always keep your navigation charts onboard. You should also familiarize yourself with landmarks, channels, sandbars, and submerged hazards among others. Waterways have claimed lots of hulls and props.
You need to know and follow navigation aids in order for you to avoid your boat from running aground. As you head out onto the sea, keep green aids to your right.
Always remember the “red right returning.” Keep red markers onto the right as you’re returning to land. When there’s no marked route, be sure to navigate clockwise around a landmass.
If you see boats that are anchored along a mangrove line or on open water, they are most probably fishing.
It would be best for you to alter your course so your engine’s sound won’t spook the fish that the boats are targeting.
If you are unable to maneuver around safely, you have to slow down. When you’re the boat that’s wetting a line, then use common sense. Don’t stop to fish within a busy channel.
Mind Your Manners When Docking
Busy docks are potentially high-pressure environments. You have to remember other people will be using the dock. When you’re tying up, be sure to mind your lines.
Beware of creating tripping hazards. When you’re at a fuel dock, employ your best ramp etiquette: simply pump and pay. Move aside when you’re done.
Sailing and Boating Right of Way
When two boats under sail meet, these rules apply:
- When two boats are on the same exact tack, the leeward boat will have the right of way.
- The boat that’s on the starboard tack will have a right of way (wind coming from the starboard rail).
- When on a tack passing, the vessel that’s being overtaken will always have right of way always.
It’s the responsibility of the captain of a boat to know all the basics and responsibly act to avoid an accident or collision even when you’re a stand-on vessel.
Evaluate the situation, slow down, make sure your intentions are clear to the other boat(s), and presume the others have no clue in order to avoid accidents.
Vessel Categories, Definitions, and Types
Navigation rules give emphasis on where and how vessels move. They’re supplemented by sound and light signaling rules covered under the various sections of COLREGS, the international laws and regulations to prevent a collision at sea. They govern vessel operators’ responsibilities in international and inland waters.
Note: if you have a boat that’s 20 ft long or less, you don’t have to keep a copy of USCG’s navigation rules onboard. However, you have to memorize or at least familiarize the basics. When you’re hazy on a certain part, get a copy and keep onboard.
The type of water vessel will usually dictate the course of action of the captain. These vessels will have priority in most cases:
- Vessels that are constrained by draft
- Boats restricted to maneuver e.g. engaged in fishing with fishing gear deployed
- Vessels that aren’t under command
These are all crucial information on how to pass a fishing boat. At this point, you should already know how to safely navigate a boat.
As per the USCG, a boat has to pass from the right. It’s also important to know who has the right of way for safety and common courtesy.
Practice good habits – you won’t just be a better boater, you’ll also earn the respect and recognition of experienced boaters around. See you out there on the water!