The world just works better when everyone uses a little common sense and consideration. That’s why we have protocols, etiquette and customs. If everyone’s on the same page, the majority of the people can be happy. And if not happy, at least not inconvenienced or annoyed.
Observing the rules is even more important in situations where a lot of people are packed into a small space. That certainly applies to popular anchorages, and especially to busy marinas.
Being polite and actively practicing courtesy will keep you off the naughty list when it comes to your boating brethren. Different marinas will have different schedules, different rules, and different practices, but there are some basic guidelines that hold true in almost every marina setting.
Enter Slowly, Leave Slowly
No one enjoys having their boat rocked by a wake from an indifferent boater. People are trying to sleep, eat, cook, or enjoy a drink. Ignore this simple standard and you will be greeted by scowls, or worse.
Noise is noise, and it’s sure to irritate your neighbors. Sound carries extremely well over water. If you’re going to be going ashore for dinner or supplies, turn off your generator, VHF radio, stereo, electronic equipment, lights, etc. There’s no call for you to disrupt your fellow boaters when you’re not even on your boat!
Most marinas post a “quiet time”. Observe it. That is not the time to rock out to your favorite tunes—plug in the earbuds, and let people sleep. The same goes for talking loudly to your guests, your children shrieking, and World War 3 exploding from your DVD player.
All of the above not only applies at night, but also early in the morning. You may be rested and ready to go at 5 am, but the guy 2 slips over may not have arrived until 1 am, and he’s still sleeping.
Clean Up After Yourself
Stow your gear. Don’t leave everything lying around because you’re too tired to deal with it. Tripping over a life jacket in the dark is much less fun than you’d think. Don’t be lazy and stack your stuff on the dock. It’s a shared space just like a sidewalk, not your own personal storage shed.
Dispose of your garbage properly. If that’s not an option, store it in an airtight container until you can. Garbage attracts insects, rats, cats and raccoons. You probably don’t want to wake up next to critters in your cabin.
Were you invited aboard? If the answer is no, keep out. That goes for peering in windows also. How thrilled would you be to have a complete stranger checking out your boat without your say so?
Lend a Hand
If you’re already safely docked and you see a fellow boater struggling to dock, put down your drink, and help out. We’re all in this together, and it is not cool to sit there and snicker at the new guy having trouble. He’s already embarrassed enough.
If you’re at the fuel dock, the boat landing, or any frequently used public area, take care of business, and move along. You know how frustrated you were waiting and waiting to launch your boat? The family behind you is feeling the same way. Do what you need to do in an orderly fashion, and get going.
Don’t wait to start cleaning up and putting things away when it’s time to trailer your boat. You’re going to hold everyone up. Think ahead and get all that done before hand.
Ask, Don’t Assume
If you have a question, just ask. If there’s a dock master, don’t hesitate to ask about any special rules or customs in the marina you should be aware of. You can also ask a friendly neighbor, or the marina manager. It’s always safer to know rather than assume.
If you just remember your mother’s advice to “play nice”, you should have no problems getting along with your boating neighbors, even at close quarters. After all, that’s the experience we’re really looking for—a great time on the water.