How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat?

There are many rules and variations guiding navigating around fishing boats. When meeting a fishing boat head-on, Coast Guard navigational rules generally dictate that both of the vessels should steer starboard so that each boat passes each other on their port sides.

While the Navigational Rules state that vessels should pass on the port side, this can be altered if the two boats communicate and agree upon a different way of passing each other safely. Furthermore, the Navigational Rule states that avoiding a collision takes priority in operating a maritime vessel. In other words, use common sense. Do not stick strictly to the rules if you know that it will lead to a collision.

For clarification on questions regarding vessel operating procedure or boating safety, contact the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or reference the Navigational Rules outlined by the U.S. Coast Guard. Navigable waters in the United States are dictated by federal laws and treaties enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard publishes the Navigational Rules, which can be purchased or read online at The U.S. Coast Guard Navigational Rules provides a consistent guideline for the safe operation of maritime vessels, as well as boat operation and marine equipment standardization.