Rules of the Watery Road
Editor's note: This blog installment comes from Fishhound pro staffer Capt. Mike Gerry.
As we approach the busy time of year on the water, there are always boating mistakes being made that cause a problem on the water. So I thought I'd help clarify some correct boating situations.
First of all, there are about three different situations that affect what you should do on the water while under way. The first is meeting another boat in a head-on situation.
In the daytime it's pretty obvious if there's a boat coming at you. Pretty simple: Same as in a car, turn right to avoid the other boat and pass port to port. The correct terminology, according to the Coast Guard, is that you should leave the other boat on your port side.
The next situation starts to get a little dicey, and here it is: You're approaching a boat from the rear and intend to pass it. You have the right to pass or overtake the other boat on either side that is clear. However, this only applies those two boats are the only ones within a half-mile of each other. The presence of more than two boats creates a special circumstance that requires more thought.
Third is this situation: You're in a crossing situation with another vessel. In this case you must understand port and starboard, as the boat that has you on its starboard is the stand-on vessel, or the vessel that if safe can continue on its path. What that means is not everyone running the main channel is the right-of-way vessel or stand-on vessel. This is very important and it's where many water accidents take place.
Picture this: You're running north up the wide-open channel and a boat's crossing from your right to left (or more correctly your starboard to port). You're seeing its starboard side, or at night its green light. In this situation, you're the give-way vessel, so yes, you must let him pass and cross in front of you.
Don't be a victim. Follow and understand these rules.
Capt. Mike Gerry has lived in north Alabama since the 1970s and has been fishing Lake Guntersville for over 35 years. He owns and operates Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service and books individual, group and corporate trips. He also offers pre-tournament trips for competitive anglers. Visit FishLakeGuntersvilleGuideService.com, send him an email at email@example.com call (256) 759-2270. He'd love to hear from you!
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