There’s nothing better than spending a beautiful summer day out on the water. Unfortunately, however, there’s no faster way to put a damper on what could have been the perfect outing when every other boater within a 30-mile radius has the same idea.
Whether it’s at the launch, in the marina, or on the waterway, traffic congestion can cause a variety of problems and headaches. While formal boating rules can help to mitigate some of these issues, most often the troubles that arise stem from basic boating etiquette faux pas or simple lapses in common sense.
Ultimately, contending with the summer crowds can sometimes test the patience of even the most benevolent soul. By following the tips provided below, however, you can at least make sure that your behavior will not contribute to the problem.
Don’t waste time at the boat ramp. Dealing with a crowded boat ramp is like dealing with a crowded line at the supermarket: everyone just wants to get through as fast as possible so they can be on their way. To that end, don’t be one of those people who waits until the clerk tells you the total before you start looking for your wallet. When it comes to launching your boat, make sure you prepare every aspect of your boat for launch before you approach the ramp. No one wants to be held up because you failed to put the plug in and get your equipment loaded into your boat before you started backing down the ramp. When there’s only one ramp and 10 boats, time is of the essence. Do what you can to make efficient use of it.
Lend a hand when you can. From Popeye to Jack Sparrow, everyone was a beginner once. When you see someone struggling to dock in a tight space or having trouble loading their yacht, give them a hand. Offer to spot them or catch their lines instead of just standing there and gawking at them. Moreover, if you notice someone tying up their boat incorrectly, offer to help them out: when a yacht is improperly secured, it can pose just as much, if not more, of a problem for the boats fore and aft of it as it will to itself. It can also be useful to teach the poor soul what “dipping the line” means: when a pole, piling or some other shared tie-up space is being used, dipping your line through the other person’s loop will allow either line to be removed without getting tangled up with the other.
Leave some space. If you have to anchor near a boat with which you’re not affiliated, make sure to leave plenty of room in between your two boats. At the very least, you want there to be enough space so that the boat next to you can swing around its anchor without hitting you if the tide turns or the wind suddenly picks up. Not anchoring too close is not just a safety issue. It’s also just a question of respecting their personal space and not crowding them. No one wants their day out fishing or hanging with friends to be interrupted by neighbors who are too close for comfort.
You circle wagons, not boats. This tip mostly applies to waterbikers, but it’s important for some speedboats to also remember: don’t circle dangerously close to any boat that is underway. When you do, you put everyone in danger because the other vessel might not be able to stop in time if you go overboard or it may force the other vessel to quickly and unsafely change course. Plus, kicking up all that wake right around another boat is just plain rude.
Know your audience. If you’re waiting at the locks or just idling in the marina, consider the fact that most people have their own music or conversations they’re trying to listen to so it would be wise to keep yours down.
Be a good neighbor. When it comes to being a good marina neighbor, practicing common sense is the best way to ensure you’re the guy that everyone is happy to wave at. For starters, always keep your speed down when entering or exiting the marina, there’s no faster way to earn the wrath of your neighbors than failing to respect the no-wake zone. It should go without saying that you should never board another boat without permission but just in case it doesn’t here’s the reminder: you should never board another boat without permission. It’s also important to turn off your electronic equipment when you leave your boat: it will help save the battery life and save your neighbors from having to listen to the static and squeals of the radio all night.
Do your best to channel Mr. Rogers instead of the Clampetts by being as clean and tidy as possible: always stow your gear on the boat instead of on the dock and keep your lines, cords and hoses as neatly stowed as possible. Moreover, make sure your food is properly stowed and your garbage is properly disposed of so you don’t unintentionally attract cats, rodent or insects into the marina. Finally, use spring lines to keep your bow from extending out over the dock, especially if your anchor is protruding, because it poses a hazard to unsuspecting passerby.
By following these basic tips, you’ll be ready for even the busiest days at the launch, in the marina or on the water!
“Image Credit: wikipedia.org“