A common hazard in Thai coastal waters, fish traps create differing reactions among cruisers in the region.
Onboard Crystal Blues we work hard to avoid them, though it is common to be sitting in the cockpit and see one slide past only a metre away. Oops.
The flags are often poorly maintained and they can be very hard to see subject to daylight conditions. Of course at night we have no chance, so our coastal navigation is almost always in daylight.
The dark fish trap flag in the photo at right, a good boat length from Crystal Blues, is easy to see against the sky, but difficult against the darker water. We pass many hundreds of these in a coastal day sail, and they are prolific north of Phuket, between Ban Thap Lamu and the Myanmar border. One sailor I spoke to says he has given up worrying about them - he just ignores them. Others I know have spent frustrating hours hooked up to traps, working to clear lines from rudders, skegs and propellers. We value our paint job, so we do everything we can to avoid them.