Boating Etiquette Basics

Hello and welcome to your first lesson in boating etiquette (imagine a fancy lady drinking a cup of tea with her pinky finger out). In all seriousness, this is a topic that needs to be addressed. There are more new boaters on the water than ever and it’s important to explain the do’s and don’ts and common courtesies. These tips may not be obvious to the novice and it doesn’t hurt to brush up if you’re a seasoned captain. This will be a 2-parter and as I furiously type and smoke coming off my fingers I am thinking it may even be a 3-parter. We shall see.
Launching your boat. It is a beautiful sun-shiny day and you’ve decided to take your boat out and enjoy it. Great! That’s wonderful. Following these important tips can help your day be a success. Because in all honesty if you have a bad encounter at the launch dock-your day may go downhill from there.

  1.  Most boat launches have a pull off area that allow you to get your stuff situated in the proper compartments. You’ll have time to transfer items from the vehicle to the boat. This is the time to do that, not at the launch.
  2. When you’re situated enough to get in line for launching, remember that this can be a smooth transition from wheels to water. Make sure that you stay in your lane. Many ramps have two lanes so boats can pull in or out of launch. Do not take up both lanes, try to get as close as possible to the dock so that the other lane can be used if needed.
  3. The courtesy dock should be used for loading and unloading passengers. It is a courtesy definitely not to be used as a place to tie onto and spend long periods of time.

Fast forward-the day is done. All the fun has been had and it’s time to head back to the dock. There are peak times that the dock is being used so you may run into a crowd and once again a potentially stressful time. Fear not. Following simple steps can calm your nerves.

  1.  Drop off the driver of the vehicle at the courtesy dock so they can fetch the trailer. Quickly and cautiously back away from the dock. There you will wait your turn.
  2. Just because you have been waiting first does not mean you’re first in line. If you don’t see your trailer coming down the ramp then it is not your turn.
  3. Same as the launch, getting the boat back on the trailer is all you need to do at the dock. Use that trusty pull off area in the parking lot to sort your things.

It all comes down to R E S P E C T-find out what it means to me. Everyone’s time is valuable-common courtesy needs to be in the forefront. If you see your friend at the dock-that’s not the place to catch up. If your sunglasses fell off your head and you have to get on all fours to find them-you can find them when you pull away from the dock. You get it right? In and out-smooth sailing. There are new boaters and we all understand that learning has to start somewhere. Instead of tapping your foot or angrily yelling and hot head horn honking-lend a hand and offer some friendly advice.
Yeah, we will do another lesson on owning your wake and proper passing. How to help other boaters in need. And my personal favorite, the “boater’s wave” which is similar if not exactly like a “Jeep wave.” Stay-tuned. 

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