Current Waters: Time To Reshuffle The Deck

Capt. Carl Bois •

While everyone is enjoying these long, beautiful days with no wind, it may not be particularly the best thing for fishing. Striper and bluefishing are still good but getting the timing right is part of it. Pay attention to water temperatures.

For black seabass, there have been some here and there, but a decent mass of them has been hard to find.

Tuna fishing had a really good run recently but has slowed down in the past couple of days. I suspect things will improve with some wind picking up possibly this weekend. Not everyone loves it, but I welcome the wind. It stirs things up, moves bait around. Paired with a new moon on Monday, we’ll have a good reshuffling of the deck.

While tuna fishing this past week we also had some other cool sightings; a close-up of a few mola molas, some porbeagles, and a great dorsal white fin cruising around. We caught some tuna, lost a few fish. Lots of things to see out on the water. And yes, it was delicious.

Continuing on the nautical theme from previous weeks, let's talk about port and starboard. We discussed before how important it is to pay attention to navigation and know where you are when you’re on the water. Since “left” and “right” depend on which direction the person is facing, there is a lot of room for error. We use “port” and “starboard” instead because these refer to fixed locations on the vessel, independent of location. When we talk about port and starboard on a boat, we’re all on the same page. These are unambiguous reference points that are independent of a mariner’s orientation.

Where did those names come from anyway? Learning the origin of the words actually helped me remember which was which all those years ago when I was first studying navigation. In the early days of boating, boats were controlled using a steering oar. Most sailors were right-handed, so the steering oar was placed through the right side of the stern. Sailors began calling the right side the steering side, which soon became "starboard" by combining two Old English words: stéor (meaning "steer") and bord (meaning "the side of a boat").

As vessels got bigger, so did the size of the steering oar. The large steering oar made it easier to tie up in port on the opposite side of the boat. Originally called “loading side” it was changed to “port” since this was the side that faced the port.

These terms became commonly used. And with colonialism, the terms became more widespread. Eventually, with the formation of regulatory bodies to develop a uniform code for maritime terminology, the terms port and starboard were accepted broadly. Port and starboard are now the official directions for left and right on all vessels, as stated in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

Considering that poor visibility could lead to difficulty in identifying the port and starboard sides of vessels, color codes were assigned based on accepted conventions. Red is the international convention for the port side, while green is the color for the starboard side. Hence, the port side has red navigation lights, and the starboard side has green navigation lights. The number of lights required depends on the size of the boat. The specifics can be found in the Rules of the Road here.

Besides a history lesson, why is it good to know? The more boaters who know the rules of navigation, the safer everyone will be. With the fog we’ve had recently, being aware of our surroundings and taking quick action will help avoid collisions. According to the navigation rules of the road, there are specific passing rules for power vessels. First of all, when two power vessels approach each other head-on, both vessels should alter their course to pass each other on their port side (turn to starboard). When two vessels are attempting to cross, the right of way is given to the vessel on the starboard side. If you see red, you are the stand-down vessel.

The channel markers also have the color patterns of port and starboard. Port-hand buoys are painted green, with green fixed or flashing lights. Starboard-hand buoys are painted red, with red fixed or flashing lights. So the saying “Red right returning” has long been used by mariners as a reminder that the red buoys are kept to the starboard (right) side when proceeding from the open sea into port.

So go have some fun on the water and keep it safe.

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