How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat

How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat: The Complete Guide

When you are on the water, passing a fishing boat without collision is very crucial. A collision will cause irreparable damages. So, avoiding the collision while passing a fishing boat should be the #1 priority.


As it is the case in out of the water, you try our best to keep you and others safe, it should be equally practiced in the water. There are certain rules and regulations in the water that you should keep in mind and practice. Apart from that, you should also make a decision instantly in the water. If you fail to do so, you might end up damaging yours or someone else’s property.


Well, if you are in the water and you do not know how to pass a fishing boat, you’ve clicked on the right link. In this article, we are going to discuss how should you pass a fishing boat safely and the right way. Let’s go ahead.


Why Is It Important to Know How to Pass a Fishing Boat?


More people are getting engaged in fishing nowadays. When it comes to the USA, it is found that the number of anglers has reached about 50 million. As people are fishing and boating more, the risk of danger and accidents in the water has also increased.


Fishing boats come with ropes and lines of great length lying in the water and that’s one of the reasons why that might pose a danger to other boats.


However, though many anglers just fish from the shoreline, it is important to have proper boating knowledge to handle the situation. When you know the right way of passing a fishing boat, the risk of collision decreases to a great extent. It can also keep you and the other safe from being injured.


Boating is not as straightforward as driving. It has many rules and regulations that you are supposed to maintain when you are in the national and international waters. Understanding the right way to pass a boat is one of the key factors that make a boatman a true captain.


How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat


Know the Basic Rules


One of the best practices in the water is not to cross another boat as long as you do not get all green or clear signals from that boat.


As a captain of the boat, you should keep up this good practice all through your life. No matter how impeccable knowledge you have on boating, you might fall into an accident if you are not willing to follow the best practices in the water. If you follow the basic rules of passing a boat, you and all the stakeholders will remain safe.


Can you imagine that everyone on the road is driving to make their way no matter how? It would make absolute chaos, right?  The same is true for boating. If you do not know and respect the regulations and rules of boating, you will endanger the safety of yourself and that of others.


Why is Passing a Fishing Boat So Complicated?


You might be wondering, why is passing a fishing boat so complicated while it is comparatively easy to pass other types of boats? Well, there are definite reasons for it. First of all, unlike other boats, fishing boats are equipped with nets and cast lines. Navigating your boat throughout those nets and lines is not easy. You must be cautious to pass them safely. The nets might likely catch your boat and thus two boats might get involved in a game of dragging. This dragging of the boats might be damaging for the boats in such a case.


While you pass a fishing boat, make sure that have communicated with the people of the boat so that they know your presence. Also, make sure that the speed of your boat is low so that you do not lose control and fall to an accident.


Reducing the speed will help you passing without the possibility of any big collision. It is also helpful in turbulent water.


However, if you are on the boat that is going to be passed, make sure that you have received the communication from the other end, you let the other boat know your situation so that both of the boats can pass without causing any damage.


What to Do When You Pass a Fishing Boat?


While you are going to pass a fishing boat, make sure that you have steered to the side of the starboard or the right-hand side in general. It can be interpreted as that both the boats should pass on their left-hand sides or port sides in another term.


However, you might be in a situation when you cannot pass to the side of the starboard. For instance, if you are going to pass a boat with cast lines toward the shore, it will limit the place of passing in the right direction. In that case, it is allowed for you to use the other side to pass the boat.


But, keep in mind that, you must communicate with the other fishing boat to mention your intention that you will be passing the boat from the wrong side. You should only proceed to do so when you get clear consent from the other boat.


When you are going to pass from the starboard side, make sure that you have honked your horn for once at first. It is almost customary to do in the water. If the other boat permits you to pass, that boat will reply with a single honk. You should interpret as a green signal or permission to go ahead with passing.


On the other hand, when you are going to pass the other boat from the port side, you have to honk the horn twice. If the other boat wants to let you do what you are trying to do, that boat should reply in a double-blast to announce their consent.


One important thing to remember is that the wake should be minimum when you pass a boat. Apart from being a courtesy, this practice is also crucial for keeping safety in the water. It is because if large wakes are responsible for causing safety issues for the fishing boat. For example, someone can toss overboard. In the worst-case scenario, they might fall and get injured due to the unusual movement of the boat.




How Do You Pass a Boat at Night?


If you do boating at night it is important to know how to pass a boat at night correctly. Boating at day and boating at night is not similar. It might seem more difficult for you to pass a boat at night as the broad sunlight is no longer available. However, here are some ways for you that you can adopt while you pass a fishing boat at night:


  • When the boat appears in front of you with white and green light on, this indicates that the boat will pass you from the left side or port side. Keep navigating normally as it will give way to you. Yet, you have to stay alert so that no accident takes place. The boat that is going to pass you from the port side might not notice you. So, staying vigilant is essential.
  • If the other boat approaches from the right in front of you, it should hint you with the red and white light on. You have to interpret it as the signal that the boat is going to cross you from the right side or starboard side. In a situation like this, you have to give the other boat enough space to cross. Slow down or stop (if required) your boat to let the other boat cross you.
  • You might wonder about how to overtake a fishing boat at night? Well, that’s a little bit tricky. A white light alone can hint that you are going to approach the other boat and overtake it. You can overtake the boat from either side but you have to be very alert about the safety of the other boat as well. Reduce your pace and stay enough gap between you and the other boat. It is always better to be cautious than being sorry later on.



How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat: Important Things to Remember


Well, here are some of our suggestions for you to keep in mind while you pass a fishing boat in the water.


Know the Exceptions


Yes, nothing goes correspondingly all the time. The same is applicable for boating. You need to know the exceptions and use them while a situation demands so.


You might not always follow the exact side of passing a fishing boat. Exceptions are there and you should make use of those exceptions when regular rules do not fit. To know when to apply the exception and break the rule depends on the context. It requires nothing but your common sense to understand the call of the moment.


Let’s say, for example, the other boat is casting the fishing line on the port side. If you know the situation well, you will pass the boat from the other side. However, you should have mutual consent on what you are doing.


However, it might be the case that the captain of the other boat is not well-aware of the rules. In that case, you have to deal with the situation taking full control in your hand. At that moment you have to decide the side that is safe for both of you regardless of the rule just to handle the situation at that moment.


Know the Signals


The ability to communicate is a very crucial skill every captain should possess. It will help you boating without risking safety. When you intend to move the steering wheel to your desired direction, let the other board know your intention with the right kind of signal.


Try to maintain the proper rules of signals for passing the boat. Blast one signal to pass on the starboard side with the horn and blast two signals while on the left or port side.


Keep the Proper Lookout


Having a proper lookout is very important in sailing. It lets another person help you in need. On top of that, you can use the VHF radio of the marine to communicate in a time of need and keep yourself alert.


Don’t Rush


Make sure that you have a careful eye on the speedometer of the boat. When you are going to pass another boat, make sure that you have lessened the speed. Going slower while passing another boat will help you and the other stay safe and the boats are less likely to collide with each other.


Maintain a Wide Berth


When you pass a fishing boat, having a wide berth helps maintain safety. It is most probable the fishing lines of the other fishing boat will be extended beyond the boat area. If you can maintain a safe and wide distance from the other, it will save the equipment of the vessel from getting damaged. It will be the best practice to keep your boat in neutral mode while you pass the fishing boat.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What are docking lights for a boat?


Docking lights are also called as boat headlights. Docking lights are generally placed at the front part of the boat. They are helpful for you to see the path at night, while the other boats can recognize your boat from distance seeing the light. Docking lights are usually white and most of the boats come with two docking lights at the front of the boat.



Is it easy to pass a boat at night?


Boating at night itself is difficult. So, what about passing another boat at night? Well, that’s tough if you do not have the right knowledge about it. Passing a boat at night might seem complicated at first. But, after trial and error, you will able to learn it perfectly by the passage of time as it is the case for learning swimming or diving. It needs practice and patience to learn the art of passing another boat at night safely.


What do I need to use for passing a boat at night?


To pass a fishing boat at night, the first thing you should maintain is light. You need to use three types of lights: white, red, and green to boat at night. Place the white lights at the rear, front, and at the top of your boat. The green light should be placed on the starboard. And you are supposed to put the red light on the port side.


However, to ensure better safety while passing a boat, you can consider buying a thermal night vision camera system with multi-sensors. Though it might seem costly, it does worth it. A thermal night vision cam will make your boat more secure as you can see everything in your path. We would recommend you to use one if you boat at night almost regularly. Otherwise, you can go without it.


Is having lights on my boat necessary?


Though having lights on your boat might not be an emergency for you now, but you never know when you will use the boat at night. If you want to keep your boat and other boats safe at night, having lights at night is mandatory. It is because lights will help to keep your boat visible to others.


However, even if you never boat at night, what about boating in foggy weather at dawn? A boat with green, white, and red lights will help to see the way throughout the fog. What you just need to make sure is that you have placed all the lights in the right places.


The price of the boating lights within the reach of your budget. You can find durable LED light at a relatively cheap price compared to other lights.


No matter whether it is a sailboat or speedboat, having necessary lights at the right place will keep you secure.


However, even if you buy boating lights, you have to maintain other safety measures at the water while boating at night. Keep distance from the other boats while you pass them and reduce the speed to make sure that both the boats can go ahead safely.


How can I maintain the highest safety while passing a boat at night?


Passing a boat at night is tricky. You need to ensure that you have taken good preparation for passing another boat at night. Here are some safety measures you should follow while boating at night or passing another boat at night:


  • Make sure that all the red, green, and white lights are working properly.
  • Keep a searchlight or high-powered torch with you to use for gaining extra visibility while other lights might not work fine.
  • Keep some flares in your boat to face the emergency.
  • Keep working life jackets preserved in your boat.
  • Check if the communication devices such as radio and mobile phones are working fine.
  • Your transponder should work to let the rescue crews know your location in case your boat is in danger.
  • Have fire safety gear and equipment with you.
  • Always keep your brain cool. Don’t lose your common sense.


Which side should I take while passing another boat?


The rule of thumb for passing another boat is to follow the right side. Coast Guard also emphasizes this. While you steer on the right side, both the boats will pass each other from the other side.


Which boat has the Right of Way?


The type of vessel determines the right of way. When it comes to a fishing boat vs. a sailboat, the fishing boat will have the right of way. Again, if it is between a powerboat and sailing boat, the powerboat has the right of way.


Why should a boat pass on the right?


US Coast Guard has dictated that boats should pass on the right. While your boat crosses a fishing boat, you should make sure that you are avoiding the cast nets and the fishing lines.


What should you do if you encounter a fishing boat while out in your vessel?


When you encounter a fishing boat: reduce the speed or stop if required, communicate with the other boat for direction, if you get the consent, pass the fishing boat keeping a wide distance from each other.


When boating at night what does a single white light on a boat tell you?


If you see the light quite high from the water, the possibility is that it is an anchor light. It denotes that the sailboat is anchored for staying the night. On the other hand, if you see an all-around light that is near to the water, it might be a small rowboat, canoe, or kayak running on the water. So, make sure that you have reduced your speed while approaching the boat or canoe. Keep a wide distance as in water you can see things far which are closer.


 Is it illegal to have headlights on a boat?


Yes, it is illegal as it can blind other boatmen for a moment and can cause an accident.


Can I drive my boat at night?


Yes, you can. Just make sure that you know the safety measures and ready to implement them where applicable.


Is driving a boat like driving a car?


It depends. There are many similarities and dissimilarities between driving a car and driving a boat. What you need to make sure is that you are following the rules and regulations of the road.


What does it mean when I see only red and green light on another boat?


When you see only the red and green light on another boat it means that you are going to face a sailboat head-on. Make sure that you have given way to your starboard side.



Final Thoughts


Passing a fishing boat might seem complex at first as those might come with nets and lines around. You have to be completely conscious while passing a fishing boat so that both the boat is safe and unharmed. Maintain the rules of driving and overtaking, go slow while approaching another boat, and communicate with each other to make sure you are all safe. We hope that this guide has helped you to know how should you pass a fishing boat day and night besides knowing other critical issues you might face at the water.

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