Boat Safety Tips: How To Safely Operate Your Vessel

Boat safety is not something often talked about but it’s an important topic that needs to be covered. High-powered outboard engines help anglers get to their spots faster than ever before but have drastically reduced their margin for error in boating traffic. Quick decisions must be made to avoid disaster when running a bass boat 70 to 80 mph. Increased boat traffic also makes it imperative that anglers know the basic “rules of the road” to navigate safely on our nation’s waterways. The following rules of the road can be found in the Chapman Piloting Seamanship & Small Boat Handling book by Elbert S. Maloney, a reference guide recommended by the U.S. Power Squadrons and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Boat Safety: Meeting Another Boat Head On

When two power-driven boats approach each other head-on, the drivers should pass “port to port.” Neither boat has the right of way, so each boat should pass on the port (left) side of each other. This rule doesn’t apply if it appears two boats will pass clear of each other if each maintains its present course and speed. However, the Coast Guard recommends if you’re unsure of the other boat’s direction, assume you are in a meeting situation and act accordingly by turning to starboard. If a close quarters situation occurs, make a substantial course or speed change to avoid a collision.

During the day, you can see whether or not another boat is approaching on a reciprocal course, but at night you must detect the navigation lights of the oncoming craft.  If another boat approaches head-on, you should see its masthead lights (white) in a line or both of the boat’s sidelights (red and green).

Boat Safety: Crossing Paths With Another Vessel

Boat Safety

When two boats approach each other at right angles with the risk of collision, the boat on the right (stand-on vessel) has the right of way and should hold its course and speed. The other boat (give-way vessel) must yield by directing its course to starboard and passing behind the stand-on vessel.

Any boat approaching yours in an area from the bow of your boat to a point 22.5 degrees behind your boat’s beam to starboard is considered in the “danger zone’ and should be given the right of way. Altering your course to starboard is usually the best method of keeping out of the way of a vessel on your starboard bow.

Boat Safety: Overtaking Another Vessel

Boat Safety

When two boats are running in the same direction, the leading boat is designated as the stand-on vessel and the following boat is the give-way vessel.  In passing situations, the driver of the overtaking boat must give a sound signal with a horn or whistle. Two short (one second) blasts of the horn signals the stand-on vessel that you intend to pass the boat on its port side, while one short blast signifies you pass the boat on its starboard side.

When passing a boat, you must yield to the overtaken vessel, which has the privilege to hold its course and speed. If your boat is being passed, you should maintain your course and speed to allow the trailing boat to safely overtake your vessel.


Article by Martin Sierra

It was my first time ever ice fishing, we had around 3 tip-ups with live minnows. It was around 9 am and there was our first flag, so we went up to get it, I set the hook and I got it! It was my first every pickerel. After a while, another flag went up and it was fighting like a monster. I pulled it up right to the hole, it was over 25″ and “splash” the line snapped before I could even grab it out of the hole.

Location: Hill Pond, Massachusetts

Bait: Live Minnow

Fish Size: 10 inch Pickerel

Bass Fishing After The Rain: How To Target Post Frontal Bass

Bass Fishing After The Rain: How To Target Post Frontal Bass thumbnail

Bass fishing after the rain comes through can be tough so knowing a few helpful tips to will go a long way. A heavy dose of rain rejuvenates everything on land and water. Whether it’s the tomatoes withering in your backyard garden or bass languishing in stagnant backwaters, a downpour of H2O provides relief and sustenance for every living organism.

Rain falling directly onto a lake adds much-needed oxygen to the water, but rainfall that hits land first actually improves fishing the most. Rainwater that washes over the ground contains plenty of elements for setting off a chain reaction when it runs off into a lake.

Bass Fishing After A Rain Storm: Patterning Fish

Any time you have fresh water coming in bass are going to migrate up into the fresh water because it has more oxygen and food coming into it. Baitfish are drawn to the runoff area where they start feeding on an influx of microorganisms, grubs and worms and then bass move in next.

Bass Fishing After The Rain: Water Levels

Bass Fishing After Rain

The amount of rainfall determines how much runoff a body of water receives and how long it lasts. There has to be quite a bit of rain to saturate the ground before a lake starts getting any runoff. Once the ground gets saturated than that water will start running off and it will keep running off as long as it keeps raining. Runoff can last for a couple of days after some torrential downpours.

Runoff also creates current where it dumps into a cove or backwater area. Look for an area with the heaviest runoff because it will also have the strongest current. The more turbulence, the more oxygen increases and it increases the fish’s metabolism so a spot with a lot of runoff will have the most active bass.

Bass Fishing After The Rain: Water Clarity

Bass Fishing After Rain

A change in water clarity is another byproduct of runoff. In many instances, mud lines form where the runoff mixes with the main body of water. That can be an awesome situation because when you see that discolored water it means that it is taking water that was on the land and dumping it into the lake. So there are grubs and worms that are creating a feeding frenzy for the baitfish and that is going to bring bass in.

Despite all of its benefits to a fishery, runoff can be detrimental at times. Runoff from melting snow or cold rain is bad because a bass’ metabolism is dictated by the water temperature. In this instance, bass leaves the runoff area to seek warmer water closer to the main lake.