Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
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Re: You are NOT "FISHING"
I sometimes encounter shrimp boats net-fishing off the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. Never see day shapes, but I do know they can't maneuver very much at all and I behave accordingly. The tell-tale signs are a huge prop wash coming off the stern of a boat that's barely moving, and a really tight strain on the net lines coming off the side blocks.
But not all fishing boats are as obvious as this, nor do all other recreational boats "get it" in my experience. the commercial skippers are usually on the radio and get called by the f/v (sometimes to usually) and they work it out. Most rec. boats don't have, or don't monitor, channel 16 so they don't hear from the f/v til they're *really* close
Tugs and tows, especially on a wire, typically do show day shapes.
In practice, most courteous mariners use the "if it's easier for me to avoid him than vice versa, then I'll do it" method if the Rules of the Road don't give an obvious stand-on/give-way answer. but this is best concluded only after actual comms between vessels to sort it out. Guessing without comms can be dicey because you don't know how the other guy is guessing it.
Some of these situations do devolve down to Rule 2 (the "special circumstances rule"), if the situation isn't crystal-clear enough for the steering and sailing rules. Typical would be a multi-vessel situation developing, where each is arguably burdend as to one and privileged to another, or where evasive action might put you into worse trouble. You have to just "work it out".
Problem is, all this depends on everyone knowing the rules and how they work. Most don't, especially in the weekend boating crowd.
This has been an interesting discussion, and it was good to finally hear from a commercial fisherman. I hope we haven't beat this to death but it does seem there's a lot of misunderstanding on the topic.