If You Encounter A Fishing Boat While Out In Your Vessel: What Should You Do?

Ah, the open seas, a place of tranquility and adventure alike. The rippling waves, the gentle breeze, the soft rustling of the sail – a perfect day out in your vessel.

But what happens when your peaceful journey encounters a bustling fishing boat in its path?

In this article, I will walk you through the steps you should take in such a situation.

Encountering the Unexpected

While steering your vessel out in the open water, a fishing boat can sometimes appear on your radar quite unexpectedly.

  1. Maintain Appropriate Speed: First and foremost, as a boater, your top priority should be safety, not just your own, but also of the others sharing the water with you. Hence, when you spot a fishing boat nearby, it’s crucial to adjust your speed accordingly.
  2. Establish Communication: If possible, establish communication with the fishing boat. Make your intentions clear about your direction and path. Remember, as much as you are trying to navigate the waters, they too are trying to go about their fishing activities.

Isn’t it rather fascinating that your peaceful journey can transform into an educational experience about respecting the space and work of others?

Encountering a fishing boat while out on your vessel isn’t just about the rules of the sea, but also about understanding and appreciating the livelihoods that depend on these vast waters.

The Cardinal Rule: Respect their Space

Your primary responsibility is to pass the fishing boat without disturbing its operations. This applies not only to commercial fishing vessels but also to recreational fishing boats. You should always slow down while approaching and passing them. Doing so reduces the risk of collision and avoids the formation of a wake, which could potentially capsize smaller boats or ruin the fishing activity.

Determining the Right of Way

When it comes to maneuvering your vessel around fishing boats, the maritime “Rules of the Road” are your go-to guide. Fishing vessels engaged in fishing, as long as they are not impeding the passage of other vessels, have the right of way. That being said, the manner in which you should pass a fishing boat depends on a variety of factors like the boat’s size, the waterway, and the fishing gear in use.

Large Fishing Vessels:

Large Fishing Vessels

With larger fishing vessels, it’s best to maintain a reasonable distance and pass on their starboard (right) side.

Small Fishing Boats:

For smaller boats, the same rules apply, but you might have a little more flexibility in choosing which side to pass, given their smaller wake.

Fishing Gear:

Be aware of the type and extent of fishing gear in use. Nets, longlines, and trolling lines can extend several meters from the boat. Keep a safe distance to avoid entangling your propeller.

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