Current Waters: Rules Of The Road

Capt. Carl Bois •

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Now that it’s nearly July, summer is in full swing. We’ve had a great week of fishing. Our inshore opportunities are abundant. Every trip looks a little different as to what we target due to weather, tide, opportunity, and range of availability.

Bluefish fishing is still solid. This past week we found them in all directions. They are keyed in on smaller bait right now. Stripers are still the star of the show, however.

There is an impressive amount of sand eels around bringing new sea bass opportunities locally. These baitfish will keep the other fish well-fed which is good for us anglers.

Fluke have been showing up here and there. This week on our way back in from a charter we got into some fluke and black sea bass. As I said, every trip is different and you have to follow the opportunity.

It’s really about being observant and pivoting on the opportunities being presented. Pay attention to the birds, the weather, the tides.

The sharks are back! Thursday marked the start of shark season on Nantucket. A confirmed fin sighting at Nobadeer Beach around noon closed the beach for 2 hours. But please note, when you see the fin, you know where it is. When you don’t see the fin, you don’t know where it is, but it’s still in the ocean!

You may be cursing the traffic driving into or around town right now and jealous of those of us on the water. But we have our own traffic problems on the water as well. The July 4th holiday is next Tuesday, but the festivities will begin this weekend. There will be a lot of people, anglers, boats, and other vessels in our waterways. You’d think that a huge ocean would spread out the boats, but the fish are where the fish are and we like to chase them. The summer season, and especially on the weekends, brings in boaters and anglers that may be newer to our waters, our fishing, or may even be new to driving a boat. We welcome everyone on the water – it’s the best place to be this time of year. Keeping in mind a few simple rules will help make everyone’s day better.

Many recreational boaters actually have no idea of the rules of the road. As the captain of your vessel, it’s your responsibility to maintain the safety of your boat and everyone onboard.

On the water, there are navigation Rules of the Road that govern how different situations should be handled based on the vessel type and activity. In fact, the only navigation rule you can rely on in any instance is Rule #2, which basically says to avoid a collision at all costs, even if it means breaking another rule.

Even with that in mind, there are a few things we see often which can be avoided. We are the Gray Lady, so knowing how to navigate in the fog is important. We’ve seen a lot of poor decisions made in poor visibility. In low visibility situations, it’s important to have running lights and radar and to slow it down. Many small vessels are difficult to detect by radar and are that much more vulnerable. Get yourself a radar reflector and make yourself visible.

In addition to fog, take caution when in and around public areas. There are “No Wake” zones throughout the harbor. With smaller boats, navigating around the mooring field, kayaks, and paddle boards, there is no need for anyone to go fast enough to produce a wake. What’s the saying? Slow down, you’re already on Nantucket.

There are too many rules to go into in an article like this, but we may pick one or two each week to highlight. For more details, check out the Rules of the Road from the US CoastGuard here.

Regardless of the rules, it is the responsibility of the boaters to avoid collisions at all costs. It doesn’t matter if you were “right” if your boat has a hole in it. Stay safe out there this weekend! Happy 4th!

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