NAUTICAL SKILLS/The 'Slow Pass'
By Brian McLamb
This year while transiting south on the Alligator-Pungo Canal we had an occasion to alert northbound ICW travelers that a navigational aid, a red day marker, was knocked almost completely over so they would not be able to see it. A vessel also traveling south in the rain at the time radioed to thank me for alerting people to this hazard, and he posted it on Active Captain for others to be aware of in the future. This same vessel, Say Good-Bye, a trawler out of New Jersey, later caught up to me in the ditch and asked for a “slow pass.” He then asked me if I was accustomed to this maneuver and when I advised I would be happy to slow down and pull to starboard to facilitate this, he asked me to switch to Channel 17.
Once we were both on 17 he explained that he had written an article for the Great Loop Association that described the correct way to accomplish a “slow pass.” I was to maintain my heading and speed while he (the burdened vessel) approached my stern. He would keep his vessel one boat length distance away from my port side as he approached. As his bow encountered my wake, I was to slow to idle speed while he maintained his heading and speed. Once his stern was on my bow wave I would slide to port directly behind his vessel and regain my speed. This resulted in the smoothest pass I have ever encountered.