How Should You Safely Pass a Fishing Boat

How Should You Safely Pass a Fishing Boat

Passing a fishing boat Safely on the open water requires care and preparation. Fishing boats have extensive gear like nets and lines in the water that can extend hundreds of yards. Crossing this equipment can damage property and cause injuries if you don’t take proper precautions.

Follow these rules and guidelines when navigating around and passing fishing vessels for safe travels.

Know the Hierarchy of Right-of-Way

On the water, not all boats are equal. The boating hierarchy determines right-of-way during passing, crossing, and other maneuvers. Here is the pecking order from highest to lowest priority:

  • Sailboats
  • Active fishing boats
  • Vessels restricted in movement by draft
  • Boats with gear deployed like anchors and nets
  • Unmanned vessels
  • Boats being overtaken

For example, you must yield to a fishing boat with lines in the water even if you are on a speedboat. Understanding this hierarchy prevents confusion and accidents.

Wait for the Signal

Passing starts with an all-clear signal, usually a horn honk. Here is the process:

  1. Honk your horn once when ready to pass on the starboard side.
  2. Wait for the fishing boat to honk once back before proceeding.
  3. Honk twice and wait for a double honk back if passing on the port side instead.

Never cross lines before the fishing boat signals approval. Doing so otherwise can damage equipment and endanger crew.

Also read: Why should boaters slow down while passing recreational fishing boats?

Pass on the Port Side When Possible

Ideally, steer your boat to the starboard side of the fishing vessel. This lets you safely pass each other on your port sides according to maritime rules.

Sometimes casting lines prevent a starboard passing. In that case, pass on the port side after signaling properly.

Maintain Low Wake

Go slowly when overtaking a fishing boat. Making large wakes can destabilize the vessel, pull nets and lines, and endanger the crew.

Give yourself plenty of room when passing fishing boats. Having space protects their equipment from your wake and avoids entanglements.

How Should You Safely Pass a Fishing Boat Keep an Eye Out
How Should You Safely Pass a Fishing Boat Keep an Eye Out

Keep an Eye Out

Fishing vessels can have gear deployed hundreds of yards into the water. Stay alert even when you think you have given them a wide berth. Accidentally snagging a line can damage property and cause injuries.

Here is a quick checklist when navigating around fishing boats:

  • Scan for nets, traps, floats, and other gear.
  • Note which side lines are cast from.
  • Pass on the side with no gear.
  • Make sure your wake won’t destabilize the boat.
  • Keep watch for gear after passing.

Additional Passing Rules

Follow these other suggestions for safe travels around fishing boats and other vessels:

  • Anchor boats always have right-of-way – avoid them.
  • Pass port-to-port if meeting head-on.
  • Overtake boats have right-of-way – let them pass.
  • Pay attention to navigation markers and charts.
  • Sound your horn when necessary.
  • Keep to the right in narrow channels.

Proper seamanship means taking responsibility for yourself and respecting others on the water. Following these rules helps avoid chaos and accidents.

Fishing Boat Passing Situations
Fishing Boat Passing Situations

Fishing Boat Passing Situations

Here are some example passing scenarios and how to navigate them safely:

Passing a trawler casting nets off the port sideSignal with one horn honk, pass on the starboard side to avoid nets
Passing a headboat with lines in the water on both sidesSignal with two horn honks, pass on the port side, go slowly to minimize wake
Meeting a net boat head-on in a narrow channelSound five short horn blasts to propose a port-to-port passing, slow down until signaled

Safety Gear for Navigation

Having the right gear on board helps navigate congested waters near fishing boats safely. Always have these items:

  • Marine radio to communicate intentions
  • Chart plotter showing location of obstructions
  • Radar to scan for vessels and gear
  • Horn or whistle for audible signals
  • Binoculars to identify boats and gear

Well-maintained navigation tools and safety equipment helps boaters meet their responsibility to pass properly. Invest in quality electronics and check systems periodically.

Be a Courteous Boater

Passing fishing vessels requires patience, care, and preparation. Avoid crossing nets and gear accidentally, communicate your intentions, and pass at safe speeds.

Remember that the waters are shared. Being gracious and respectful keeps boating fun for everyone. Follow the rules of the sea, get your boat in order, and navigate wisely around fishing boats.

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Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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