How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat? Navigational Rules to Follow

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Updated on

Safety in the water should be a top priority to everyone. You should know how to cruise your boat around to avoid putting your life and that of others at risk.In 2017 alone there were 4,300 boating accidents out of which over 15% involved fishing boats. Knowing the navigation rules such as how to pass fishing boat is thus essential. This is not only to prevent accidents but also being courteous to others.

Steering a boat has guidelines just like traffic rules for driving. Ignorance of any of the rules is never an excuse. Learning is thus, not an option. Here you will learn on what side to pass a fishing boat and other essential navigational rules to follow.

WhatSide Should You Pass Your Boat?

You should pass your boat on the right. If your ship and fishing vessel are approaching each other, they will be passing each other on the port side or through their left. This prevents the boats from colliding and causing any traffic on the water that can lead to accidents.

When your boat passes through the port side, you avoid damaging fishing tools such as the lines and the nets. However, due to unforeseen circumstances always have boat safety equipment to help in case of emergency.

The Exceptions to the Rule

You should not cause accidents just because you are right. Always use your common sense to make a judgment in exceptional circumstances. For instance, if the fishing boat has cast its net to the port side, the option would be to pass on starboard.

Communication between the boats approaching each other is essential. Always check the message been passed to you by anglers to know which side is okay. If they say you pass your boat on the right, then follow to avoid getting entangled on the net.

However, if they do not seem to understand the rules, you should always make a judgement to avoid accidents. You should have full control of the boat and if means passing on the right for your safety and that of others, then be it.

Tips and Tricks on How You Pass a Fishing Boat

Here are essential tips and tricks that will help you pass a fishing boat the right way:

Go with low speed

When you notice another vessel approaching, reduce the speed of your ship to avoid creating a massive wake that can cause accidents. Going slow reduces the chances of collision as you have full control of the boat. You will have enough time to react to any obstructions and stop or cruise out of danger in time. Always keep safe speed when passing fishing boats and check the limits on the zones you are cruising on.

Always be on the lookout

One of the golden rules when riding on the water is to be on the lookout on other users. This puts you in a position to make the right decision before accidents happen instead of being caught off-guard. If you have a radar or radio make use of them, otherwise, use your eyes and ears keenly.

Have another person on board to help in looking out as you concentrate on sailing the boat. It became essential when passing a fishing boat since it is not only about looking out for the vessel but other angling tools such as lines and the rods.

Understand the signals

Boating safety demands clear and proper communication. There is the use of signals when communication which you must understand. For instance, when passing on the right side, you should blast your boat’s horn once.

However, when passing on the left or ports side, you should blast the boat’s horn twice. Once you do that, wait for the other ship to respond before you pass.

Maintain a wide berth

You should always give the fishing vessel a wide berth since the angling lines may extend beyond the boat. This ensures your boat is not entangled of fishing lines which is dangerous for you and the other persons on the fishing boat. A good practice is to always put your boat on neutral when passing.

What to Do When You Are on the Fishing Boat

The situation is different when you are the one on the fishing boat. Fishing vessels have the right of way, and thus you are allowed to continue cruising on your side. In this case, you should not slow down or speed up instead maintains the same speed as the other boats pass. Once the other ship has passed safely, then you can change the speed to your preference. 

The above tricks also apply when you are on a fishing boat. Maintaining safe speed at all times gives you time to react. You might experience the circumstances below that calls for the proper reaction:

  • A wrong signal form a boat approaching
  • Threats and any other obstacles
  • Changing water conditions
  • Vast water bodies
  • Heavy rains and other extreme weather conditions
  • A person towed on a wakeboard
  • The wrecked vessel on the waterway

You should always purpose to avoid accidents at all cost. Communicate with other captains if you want to overlook navigation rules for one reason or the other. Signal and wait for them to respond before reacting. Preventing accidents should be your top priority.

Final Verdict

Over half of the 50 million American anglers fish in the waters.  Learning the above rules, tips and trick of how you should pass a fishing boat are therefore imperative. Whether you are the one passing the fishing boat or in the angling vessels, you need to observe the rules to avoid accidents at all cost. 

Knowing the signals used, maintaining a wide berth, being on the lookout and going slow are the golden tricks that help you to pass a fishing boat safely. Under exceptional circumstances, you can break the navigation rules that require the ship to pass to the right. In such case communicate clearly to the fishing boat before passing. 

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