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VOL. 8 NO. 3
Take a class

Pass safely

Follow the rules of the road when passing other boats

Pass safely

You should always take precautions when passing other boats, particularly in narrow channels or the Intracoastal Waterway. The rules of the road assign responsibility to both the stand-on and give-way vessels when passing; however, the rules don’t address the wake you may pull when accomplishing the maneuver. Remember, captains are responsible for damage done by their wakes.

Many live-aboard cruisers carry all their worldly possessions on board, and a violent roll can even damage items that were secured properly. Many such incidents occur when sport fishing boats overtake sailboats without slowing down or without slowing down enough to smooth out their wake.

We have found a good way to pass: First, we contact the boat we want to overtake on the VHF radio. Once contact is established, we ask permission and suggest passing either on the boat’s port or starboard side. This allows us to consider water depth and oncoming traffic. After we reach an agreement, we give the other crew the option to slow down, allowing us to slow down and reduce our wake to a ripple. We reduce our speed to about 1,000 rpms, a little over idle, which makes for a faster pass.

Don’t be impolite and just barge ahead without contacting the other boaters, because you may end up as neighbors at dock or anchor.

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