If you are an avid angler, you know that sharing the water with other boats is a common occurrence. However, passing a fishing boat can be a bit tricky and requires some etiquette and skill to do it safely and courteously.
In this article, we will provide you with some valuable tips and guidelines on how to pass a fishing boat without disturbing their lines or causing any accidents. Whether you are a seasoned boater or a beginner, this guide will help you navigate the waters with confidence and respect for other anglers.
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The Importance of Learning How to Pass a Fishing Boat
Passing a fishing boat cautiously is crucial for ensuring the safety of all individuals on the water, as well as protecting the equipment and catch of other anglers. Passing too close or too quickly can cause waves that disrupt the angler’s balance and affect their ability to cast or reel in their lines. Additionally, passing too close to a fishing boat can lead to damaged fishing equipment, braided fishing lines, and nets.
As per the regulations set by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), you should always pass boats on the right side. In addition to standard safety procedures, passing a fishing boat safely also shows respect for other anglers and demonstrates good sportsmanship.
It is important to remember that fishing is not only a recreational activity but also a livelihood for many individuals. By passing a fishing boat safely and courteously, you are showing that you value and respect their space and time on the water. Doing so also allows for your safety and the safety of your passengers and equipment as well.
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.
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. Proceeding to pass a boat without receiving these communications back from the other boat can result in danger.
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, knowledge is your best protector against what the waterways may have in store for you. Ensure that channels are large enough for passing boats before entering.
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. This will allow for boat traffic to flow like a highway would keeping boats moving in the same direction.
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. When there are no markers, it is important to have landmarks to ensure you are still traveling the correct way.
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. Communication is important when you arrive around docks as they can become congested with boats gathering.
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. Staying docked prevents others from being able to get in and get fueled up to get back on the water.
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
All of this crucial information on how to pass a fishing boat should allow you to safely navigate a boat. At this point, you should be a master on how to pass a fishing boat cautiously and courteously.
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!