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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 11-02-2007
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How much room...?

How much room is required/reasonable for a sailboat to give a fishing boat?

Reason for my question: my wife and I were sailing our 30' sailboat in a channel that was about a mile wide, and saw a fishing boat coming our way. I angled our boat away to the point where I thought we were well clear of creating any issue--I could see the fisherman on board but couldn't make out any facial features. My guess is that we were more than 500 feet away.

But he blew 5 blasts on the horn and motioned us away and yelled something at us, but we could barely hear that he had shouted, much less make out what he said (but I can guess ). I immediately changed course away even further, and he acknowledged that.

I still don't think we were anywhere near creating a problem, but I would appreciate any information from others who know how much clearance I should be giving fishing boats. I am assuming they had fishing nets down (no I'm not referring to recreational fishing with a rod over the side ).

I do think it's important to respect others on the water, especially those making their living there, so I want to be sure of what's required.

Thanks,

Frank.
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Old 11-02-2007
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Hi Frank,

I don;t think we have enough information to give this question a good answer.

A lot depends upon the type of fishing this boat was doing, were you passing in front of or behind, what kind of channel, etc.

Where is the location?

If he was lobstering, he probably over-reacted.

If he was bottom dragging, maybe not, depending on the channel, etc.

My guess was he might have been gillnetting or purse seining.

How big was the boat, what did it look like, was it alone, or was there a small working skiff near it?

Lots of variables, and I'm not talking about COLREG here, but about getting along and sharing the resource.

Certainly some comm. fishermen are jerks when it comes to rec boaters, esp, sailors; but not all, or even most.

This might be the start of a lively discussion.
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Old 11-02-2007
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Hmm.. A fishing boat in a channel a mile wide with its fishing gear out? That seems to be an awfully strange place to have their gear out, and if they didn't have their gear out...they don't have right of way—they're not fishing. Many fishing boats seem to think that if they have their outriggers out but don't have gear in the water that they have right of way. Not the case... but getting close to an arrogant idiot in a commercial fishing boat, which usually has a steel hull, isn't exactly where you want to be.

Generally, fishing boats aren't allowed to fish in shipping channels AFAIK.
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Old 11-02-2007
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That's kind of why I asked for more info. For example, I've known people who refer to the strangest things as "channel"s.

No, typically fishing would not be going on in a marked channel; at least an in/out of the harbor type. But in some areas, (downeast Maine, for example) every near shore bit of water seems to one sort of channel or another.

I agree about the arrogance thing; "screw you, I'm workingfor a living!" does not make for good neighborly relations; any more than "screw you, I'm on a starboard tack!"

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I got an Old Fat Boat
She's Slow But Handsome
Hard In The Chine, but Soft In The Transom
I Love Her Well, And She Must Love Me
But I think It's Only For My Money
.
..... Gordon Bok

Last edited by AjariBonten; 11-02-2007 at 12:47 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-02-2007
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This past summer we did see the Direction, a commercial lobster fishing boat out of New Bedford, ram a big green lighted buoy that is along the New Bedford harbor entrance channel. We were about 150' away, and I was saying to my crew, "They see that buoy don't they?" Nope, apparently not... the scary part is this boat is homeported in New Bedford and probably goes by that buoy every three or four days. They hit it so dead square that it got knocked down, after snapping the bow pulpit, and they ended up riding over it—only to have it come back up and push them out of the way. Pretty impressive bang it made too.

I think the funniest part of the whole situation was seeing someone pop up into view on the bridge of the boat and watch them run across the bridge after the big BANG occurred.
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Old 11-02-2007
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Frank sails in our waters... the inside waters of BC, and on those rare days that commercial fishing is permitted, the nets come out and a mile wide channel is commonly choked with nets.

On the river outside our home here during an opening the river, less than a 1/2 mile wide at that point, will have dozens of gillnetters with nets nearly spanning the river over a few miles of river run. No way you're getting through without some major slalom maneouvers.

Frank, it sounds like you were close to cutting through his net... they can be difficult to see esp in a chop. It sounds like your adjustment in course satisfied the guy.. These nets can be many hundreds of feet long and if more than one boat is out there, determining which net-end float belongs to which boat can be a nightmare... in the dark it's complete insanity.

Trollers are no problem as a rule... downriggers and moving slow. Gillnetters are stopped, but determining the extent of the net can be problematic. Seiners are better because you can see the skiff moving the net, and when they are picking up they are pretty compact.

It's a tough call... the last thing you want is the guy taking potshots at you! (They put a high value on their nets.)
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Old 11-02-2007
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Not only are nets expensive, but the lost time fixing the damage could easily be a make-or-break thing. Like you said, on the few days they get to fish, they need to be fishing, not disconnecting a sailboat from their $35K worth of nets.

Gill netters makes perfect sense from the story. In new England gill nets are usually set near the bottom, and bouys with highlfyers (radar reflectors) on each end of the string (miles apart, sometimes).

In the PNW, they would probably be much nearer the surface, hence much more critical, navigationally.

Fred
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Old 11-02-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AjariBonten View Post
..In the PNW, they would probably be much nearer the surface, hence much more critical, navigationally.

Fred
In fact, around here the gillnets are entirely on the surface, perfectly poised to entrap the unsuspecting keelboat, skegs, props, and all....
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Old 11-02-2007
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In Maine the latest and greatest hazard to navigation is salmon and mussel farms.

They do sometimes get marked on charts; but only the most recent.

Yea, I know USCG Notice to Mariners, etc......... but they can still surprise you.
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I got an Old Fat Boat
She's Slow But Handsome
Hard In The Chine, but Soft In The Transom
I Love Her Well, And She Must Love Me
But I think It's Only For My Money
.
..... Gordon Bok
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Old 11-02-2007
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A bit off the topic of boat nets, but there are several very long strings of bottom anchored fish nets, located about 5 miles offshore of RI's Atlantic coastline. They've been there for years and are a huge navigational nuisance to recreational sailors.

There's one that must be about 500 yards long, midway and perpendicular between two buoy waypoints used in a popular course between Newport and Martha's Vineyard. They are suspended from floating aluminum beer kegs, which disappear on a grey day.

Hundreds of unsuspecting boaters have gotten hung up on these nets. Most though, when repeating the route a second time, know from experience to cruise far south of their plotted course.
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