When we share close quarters with others, our actions can have immediate consequences. Nowhere is that more apparent than in a marina.
Whether you’re new to the boating lifestyle or a longtime boater who might benefit from a gentle etiquette refresher, here are 14 tips that will ensure you are courteous and thoughtful member of your marina community. They all involve our own version of the Golden Rule: Do unto other boaters as you would have them do unto you.
Return the Cart
We’ve all been there, whether it’s at the grocery store, the airport or the marina. You need a cart, but you can’t find one where they’re supposed to be. And because of that, you end up spending valuable time searching for one when you could be doing much more important things. So, if your marina offers carts for hauling luggage and gear from the parking lot to the docks, please return your cart as soon as you’re finished with it. The next boat owner will be grateful. And someday that next boat owner might just be you.
Be Respectful of Others’ Property
This should probably go without saying, but don’t step on someone else’s boat or borrow equipment without asking permission. And if you are invited aboard, remember to take off your shoes first.
Mind Your Dog
A dog is perfectly behaved until the split second he isn’t, so please leash your pet and keep it under control at all times. Dogs sometimes may playfully charge at someone, but for the person who is uncomfortable around dogs, there’s nothing fun about the experience. Even friendly dogs can be intimidating to people who are scared of them. Be mindful of that. An excited dog can easily knock someone off the dock in their enthusiasm to get from point A to point B. We’ve also seen dogs attempt to leap overboard when they got excited about swimming, visiting a neighboring boat or in attempt to reach the dock before their owner’s vessel. And as an aside, please remember to always take care of pet waste, and dispose of poo bags properly.
(Healthy) Communication is Key
Shouting and pandemonium at the dock is never a good thing. It can be very upsetting to friends and family members, spoils an otherwise lovely outing and it can make neighboring boaters feel uneasy. To help prevent the kinds of situations that can create this kind of behavior, be sure to communicate with your crew ahead of time. Make sure everyone knows the gameplan for your on-water outing and is comfortable with his or her role both in leaving and returning to the dock. Less chaos equals more fun, and more happy memories.
Fuel Dock Efficiency
Try to think about some road trips you’ve taken. Picture that busy gas station you stopped at along the way to fill up. You know, the one with cars lined up at every pump. And wouldn’t you know it, the individual at the pump immediately in front of you leaves his car when he’s finished pumping to use the restroom and get some snacks. Don’t be inconsiderate at the fuel pump. As soon as you’re finished fueling, move on. If you need to visit the marina store, find some temporary dockage that’s close by.
Stay in the Zone
No wake means no wake. When you’re leaving the marina or coming back to your slip, keep your speed to a minimum in the designated no-wake zone. Disobeying no-wake rules is more than just discourteous, it’s illegal and is downright unsafe. With increased boat traffic and less maneuvering room, your chances for injuring others, or damaging the marina infrastructure or a vessel, including your own, is much greater. For more information how to safely navigate your way through no wake zones, check out our helpful Dockline blog.
Fenders are Your Friends
Have your crew deploy your fenders before you leave the dock and when you return. We’ve all gotten caught in “strong winds and strange currents,” and fenders will prove invaluable if you have any unexpected issues in the marina. Your neighbors will be grateful, too.
Secure Your Docklines
When you’re at the dock, tie off properly with bow, stern and spring lines. If you cut corners, those strong winds and strange currents just might create mayhem in your absence. Take the time to be thorough.
Keep it Clean, Please
Once your boat is secure, keep all docklines tidy. That means coiling the loose end at each cleat or leading it back onto the boat. Lines sprawling across the dock are irritating to neighbors. They can also be a safety issue.
Avoid the Racket
Does your marina have quiet hours? If it does, avoid blaring music and talking and laughing loudly during these times (and definitely no air horns if you’re leaving the dock early). Not everyone enjoys a raucous atmosphere at the dock.
Marinas are no different than campgrounds. Some people will take off for adventures elsewhere, while others will stay put and enjoy some much deserved R&R. Those interested in a little quiet don’t want to hear generators running incessantly for hours on end. Be aware of fumes and noise, particularly if you have an older model, and try to keep generator use to a minimum. They don’t need to run all day.
Power Off or Down
If you’re at the dock for the night, turn off anything outdoors that might irritate your neighbors. This includes your VHF radio, your marine electronics and excessive exterior lighting. If you decide to watch your favorite show or listen to music before bed, make sure you’ve turned your cockpit speakers off. Otherwise, your neighbors might be unwilling participants in the evening’s entertainment.
A Final Sweep
When it’s time to head home, do a final sweep to ensure you haven’t accidentally left anything on the dock that could be hazardous to passersby or harmful to the marine environment. This could be fishing line hooks, unsealed cleaning products, leftover food or trash.
Marinas serve trailer boaters too. If you use your marina’s launch ramp, please load and unload the items needed for your day on the water at home or in the parking lot (some locations have dedicated loading zones for this). That way, both launch and haul-out can be as efficient as possible, and you won’t keep people waiting. Likewise, don’t leave your boat unattended on the ramp or tied to the dock in a spot that blocks the ramp. In boating, as in life, a little consideration goes a long way.