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Communicating with other boats in busy saltwater channel

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I have easy access to the saltwater channel between Maine and NH (Piscataqua River) and want to fish it this summer from the yak, or at least use it to access calmer coves and creeks in the area. The river has a good amount of private and commercial traffic in the summer, including very large ships.

 

Other than following the basic navigation rules is it realistic to consider other methods such as learning and using horn signals or radio comms (portable VHF) to make other (larger!) boats in the area aware of my presence and intentions, or is this overkill? Are there standard horn signals or do they vary state to state? 

 

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Get a decent VHF radio to communicate with boats in your area.  There are two main channels which you can use to contact other boats in your vicinity, or to hail the Coast Guard.  It is the designated channel for hailing other boats or to put in a distress call to the Coast Guard.  

 

Once you contact another boat via channel 16 you should switch to another channel for further communications.

 

Channel 9 is generally used by commercial navigation traffic.  It is used for hailing and for conversation.

 

In this area channel 6 is generally used for conversation, but it can get crowded.  Check with someone in your areal, and they can tell you what channels are used.

 

It is an important tool for safety and navigation.

 

Learn and know the rules of the "road" and learn what buoy colors and types of buoys indicate.  Remember, in busy waters, the big boys, (freighters, cargo vessels, tugs, etc., cannot maneuver quickly so stay well clear of their course.

 

You can hail them.  You are not likely to know the names of those vessels, but you can call them using a description of where they are and where they are headed.  For example.  This is -------- calling the southbound freighter in the vicinity of buoy 6 in Buzzards Bay.  

 

I can assure you they will appreciate it.

 

I lobstered for well over twenty years in Buzzards Bay, most of it in the steamer channel.  On foggy days with next to zero visibility, when I'd see a large vessel headed in my direction on the radar screen, I'd call them, telling them what I was doing and then asked them if I was in their line of travel.  If I was, I'd go to a set of gear that would take me out of harms way, and provide peace of mind for the other skipper.  Generally I had the radar set on the six mile range which provided ample time to get out of their way.

 

Like most other things in life, communication can be critical.

 

A safe boating course should cover all these things.

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As a man who also spent a career on the water, much of it in that very environment - the simple truth is NO.

While 'some' of the commercial vessels will know what the Nav rules say - and what sound signals mean - virtually NONE of the recreational vessel operators will have a clue why 'that little boat' is blowing a horn at them. . . .

 

 Stay well clear of anything with a motor on it and expect EVERY vessel to run you down.  

Clearly they are not trying to and some may even steer clear of you - but most will not.  

While I certainly respect @Fishing Rhino response above and do believe that his knowledge & experience on the water spawned his response - and although his advice could help - I have to respectfully disagree.   

My experience says Most will not see you, most will not even be looking for you.

You will either get run over, swamped & or capsized; none of which is remotely desirable.

 

Sorry to paint the Gloom & Doom picture but it is reality.

In most every situation (as you've described it) The Rule of Gross Tonnage' applies.

And in a Kayak - you have none. 

 

Think of it like taking a big-wheel out on the interstate - except less than 20% of the drivers have licences, know the rules, even know there are rules, even care, have any clue, there's virtually no speed limit and none of them have any brakes !  And I didn't even mention BWI.

 

Stay Safe 

A-Jay

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31 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Think of it like taking a big-wheel out on the interstate - except less than 20% of the drivers have licences, know the rules, even know there are rules, even care, have any clue, there's virtually no speed limit and none of them have any brakes !  And I didn't even mention BWI

Sounds a lot like the people who drive around here :lol:

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I think the best thing you could do is make yourself visible. Attach a tall flag to the yak and wear bright clothing

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10 hours ago, A-Jay said:

 

As a man who also spent a career on the water, much of it in that very environment - the simple truth is NO.

While 'some' of the commercial vessels will know what the Nav rules say - and what sound signals mean - virtually NONE of the recreational vessel operators will have a clue why 'that little boat' is blowing a horn at them. . . .

 

 Stay well clear of anything with a motor on it and expect EVERY vessel to run you down.  

Clearly they are not trying to and some may even steer clear of you - but most will not.  

While I certainly respect @Fishing Rhino response above and do believe that his knowledge & experience on the water spawned his response - and although his advice could help - I have to respectfully disagree.   

My experience says Most will not see you, most will not even be looking for you.

You will either get run over, swamped & or capsized; none of which is remotely desirable.

 

Sorry to paint the Gloom & Doom picture but it is reality.

In most every situation (as you've described it) The Rule of Gross Tonnage' applies.

And in a Kayak - you have none. 

 

Think of it like taking a big-wheel out on the interstate - except less than 20% of the drivers have licences, know the rules, even know there are rules, even care, have any clue, there's virtually no speed limit and none of them have any brakes !  And I didn't even mention BWI.

 

Stay Safe 

A-Jay

When I say "commercial traffic" I don't mean commercial fishing boats.  I am referring to freighters, tugs and barges, shipping lines, cruise lines, etc.  I would not advise anyone to go into those waters in a kayak, or any other small boat.

 

My response was directed at his question about contacting other boats.  

 

 

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Fishing Rhino said:

When I say "commercial traffic" I don't mean commercial fishing boats.  I am referring to freighters, tugs and barges, shipping lines, cruise lines, etc.  I would not advise anyone to go into those waters in a kayak, or any other small boat.

 

My response was directed at his question about contacting other boats.  

 

 

 

 

 

Understood ~   Most times the navigation system works perfectly - including the aids to navigation.

Other times - sort of seems like a free for all out there.

 Not a fan of that stuff.

 

A-Jay

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11 hours ago, A-Jay said:

 

As a man who also spent a career on the water, much of it in that very environment - the simple truth is NO.

While 'some' of the commercial vessels will know what the Nav rules say - and what sound signals mean - virtually NONE of the recreational vessel operators will have a clue why 'that little boat' is blowing a horn at them. . . .

 

 Stay well clear of anything with a motor on it and expect EVERY vessel to run you down.  

Clearly they are not trying to and some may even steer clear of you - but most will not.  

While I certainly respect @Fishing Rhino response above and do believe that his knowledge & experience on the water spawned his response - and although his advice could help - I have to respectfully disagree.   

My experience says Most will not see you, most will not even be looking for you.

You will either get run over, swamped & or capsized; none of which is remotely desirable.

 

Sorry to paint the Gloom & Doom picture but it is reality.

In most every situation (as you've described it) The Rule of Gross Tonnage' applies.

And in a Kayak - you have none. 

 

Think of it like taking a big-wheel out on the interstate - except less than 20% of the drivers have licences, know the rules, even know there are rules, even care, have any clue, there's virtually no speed limit and none of them have any brakes !  And I didn't even mention BWI.

 

Stay Safe 

A-Jay

I couldn't agree with this more.  Just search youtube to watch horrifying boating accidents caused by oblivious or intoxicated recreational boaters.  i feel like a lamb going to slaughter whenever I have to cross boater lanes.  I'm calling them that b/c in my head I should not be in them as a kayaker.  and if i have to they are only for transportation and not to stop and fish.  it's not glamorous but I recommend staying within 300 ft of the shoreline.   my observation is the hard jagged rocky tree lined shoreline keeps idiot boaters honest i.e. attentive.   i don't get upset about it b/c there is enough shoreline fishing to last me a long healthy lifetime. i've had lots of close calls with boaters but they were all in open water/boat lanes. whereas i've never had a close call near the shoreline. if you become desperate to fish deep water structure do ur family a favor and at least pick up a $1,000 14ft jon boat.

 

btw A-Jay what do you type to reference @Fishing Rhino name like that?

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I've spent a lot of time on the salt water in this area, and I think you should look at the coves, back channels for less boat traffic. Further up river also has less boat traffic.  Great Bay has some good fishing. As for safety, I would swing over to New Castle and stop by the Coast Guard station, they are the experts on this area, and can give you the best advice.

 It goes with out saying , always wear your PFD, let someone know the area your fishing, and be alert to your surrounding's. 

 There are several launches to use to get you in the water close to less traffic areas.

                                                                                Jim

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Someone posted this video here a while back - totally insane.

Clips of the actual event are rare but this one displays the stark reality perfectly.

A-Jay

 

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I have a very healthy fear of big water in my kayak.

In part because it's a hybrid with no scupper holes.

Secondly, I don't trust other boaters. Too many 

times I hear boasts from people around about how

many beers they or their buds threw down on a

fishing trip, etc.

 

I don't want to be a dent in their hull.

 

Now that I'm also fishing in salt, I do venture out a 

little more than I have in fresh. That said, I try to stay

close to shore and out of the boat channels as much 

as possible. If I see a boat coming I try to get out of

the way as quickly as I can.

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Amazingly stupid.  Sounded like more than 5 blasts of the horn.  And where is LEO in this situation?  I mean, literally tons of boats anchored in what I imagine is a shipping channel.

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6 hours ago, slonezp said:

 

 

 

6 hours ago, J Francho said:

Amazingly stupid.  Sounded like more than 5 blasts of the horn.  And where is LEO in this situation?  I mean, literally tons of boats anchored in what I imagine is a shipping channel.

That commercial tanker is "constrained by draft" (which in terms we can all understand means - the pilot (driver) is not putting that multi-million dollar vessel & It's cargo aground for you) and that boatnick (not an official term but is a synonym for Dead Man Soon) looks to be in or very close to the navigable channel - once again - rule of gross tonnage applies - seen it time & time again.   

 

  While assigned in the vicinity of several deep water seaports on the east coast - we would routinely have to 'clear the boatnicks' out of the shipping channel and path of larger vessels (escort). 

Because apparently there is some type of contest & cash reward I guess, to see who could kill their family & friends in the fastest & stupidest way possible.   The competition was stiff !

 

I do not miss that part of the job. 

 

A-Jay

 

 

 

 

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I agree with A-Jay.  In fact, having a radio or hailer just might allow for a bit of false security sense. 

 

I fish from my yak in some very fairly busy waters.  When crossing transit lanes, I use extraordinary caution and make sure I am crossing no less than a few hundred yards ahead of anything moving faster than idle speed.  I ALWAYS  fly a blaze orange flag (and a 360 white light at night.)  I choose paddles that have white or fluorescent blades.  Big difference between waving a gray or black blade over your head vs a chartreuse one.  I have a 110 dB no-ball safety whistle on my PFD.  And, even when beating the banks, I remain vigilant if the channel is close behind me.  I had a cabin cruiser pass within 12 feet of me last summer and I was only a few yards off the shore.  I could hear a woman asking the driver if he'd even seen me...he had not.  Fortunately, he was going slow enough that I was able to maneuver enough to feel 'safe', but there is no limit to the stupidity of some operators out there.  I've gotten fairly comfortable in rivers and around 'defined channels'.  I still am a bit uneasy on big saltwater outside the channels where most traffic is predictable.  ...And, I'll never get completely confortable with jet skiers.

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23 hours ago, ClackerBuzz said:

 

btw A-Jay what do you type to reference @Fishing Rhino name like that?

@ClackerBuzz ~ 

 

Go 'Shift' and @ then type the name - it will come up on a list - select the appropriate member - 

Good to go.

 

:smiley:

@A-Jay

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Seems like maybe a safe way to communicate would be to wave...from shore.

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21 hours ago, A-Jay said:

 

 

That commercial tanker is "constrained by draft" (which in terms we can all understand means - the pilot (driver) is not putting that multi-million dollar vessel & It's cargo aground for you) and that boatnick (not an official term but is a synonym for Dead Man Soon) looks to be in or very close to the navigable channel - once again - rule of gross tonnage applies - seen it time & time again.   

 

  While assigned in the vicinity of several deep water seaports on the east coast - we would routinely have to 'clear the boatnicks' out of the shipping channel and path of larger vessels (escort). 

Because apparently there is some type of contest & cash reward I guess, to see who could kill their family & friends in the fastest & stupidest way possible.   The competition was stiff !

 

I do not miss that part of the job. 

 

A-Jay

 

Stupid is as Stupid does, apparently. I can only imagine

the stuff you've seen, or the wrecks you've had to "rescue".

 

Seen too much Stupid on freshwater - even electric-only, 

believe it or not!

 

My sons' know "don't be that guy...ever".

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On 1/31/2018 at 9:24 AM, Darren. said:

 

Stupid is as Stupid does, apparently. I can only imagine

the stuff you've seen, or the wrecks you've had to "rescue".

 

Seen too much Stupid on freshwater - even electric-only, 

believe it or not!

 

Not to mention boats going full out in "no wake" zones.  Colorado doesn't have anything in the way of commercial boating, but we have lots of recreational boaters and not much water to float them.  On any given summer weekend, most of the reservoirs east of the mountains are packed, and between the jet skis and water skiers, I don't think I'd feel right being more than about 10 feet from shore in my canoe on several lakes that come to mind.  I will be restricting my lake meandering this summer to Monday thru Friday and leave the weekends to the crazies.

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Just now, RPreeb said:

Not to mention boats going full out in "no wake" zones.  Colorado doesn't have anything in the way of commercial boating, but we have lots of recreational boaters and not much water to float them.  On any given summer weekend, most of the reservoirs east of the mountains are packed, and between the jet skis and water skiers, I don't think I'd feel right being more than about 10 feet from shore on several lakes that I can think of.  I will be restricting my lake meandering this summer to Monday thru Friday and leave the weekend to the crazies.

This is what I do, as well, as much as possible.

 

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The kayak boating and stand up paddle boards sharing waterways with both commercial and recreations large boat should realize they are nearly impossible to see on the water.

Sail boats have the right away and if you are in a powered boat it's your responsibility to yield, same with ferries. Now put yourself in the power boat navigating correctly, in the buoy marked channel at a safe speed when a sail boat suddenly turns tacking right in front of your bow and a kayak is crossing in front of you that was hidden by the sail.

All the power boater can do is slow down and turn to avoid a collision and that depends on operators awareness and skill.

Bottom line is the kayak doesn't belong in traffic areas.

Tom

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27 minutes ago, WRB said:

Bottom line is the kayak doesn't belong in traffic areas.

I don't disagree, but with the amount of traffic you're describing, the power boater should reduce speed drastically.

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14 minutes ago, J Francho said:

I don't disagree, but with the amount of traffic you're describing, the power boater should reduce speed drastically.

After 35 years operating 50'+ sportfishing boats in SoCal harbors with no wake zones it's tricky and sometimes hair raising trying to anticipate what other water craft may do and avioding collisions. Everyone on the water should know the rules and big power boats require you to know, small water craft like kayaks are not required to know the rules. Knowing the rules doesn't mean everyone follows them or is aware what is near them. You can blame others for a accident, it's foolish to put yourself in a kayak in harms way.

Tom

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On 1/30/2018 at 9:33 AM, jbmaine said:

I've spent a lot of time on the salt water in this area, and I think you should look at the coves, back channels for less boat traffic. Further up river also has less boat traffic.  Great Bay has some good fishing. As for safety, I would swing over to New Castle and stop by the Coast Guard station, they are the experts on this area, and can give you the best advice.

 It goes with out saying , always wear your PFD, let someone know the area your fishing, and be alert to your surrounding's. 

 There are several launches to use to get you in the water close to less traffic areas.

                                                                                Jim

Now that I look at the launch ramp again, I realize it wasn't on the main channel but rather on the back channel. Certainly much less "heavy duty" traffic to deal with and that works for me. Plenty coves to explore around the New Castle area too. Thanks for the advice.

 

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