Here are 10 things you should know about marina etiquette

Posted by: Pen Marine

These tips will make you the kind of neighbour everyone wants

Boating is usually an activity that rarely extends beyond our immediate circle of friends and family. On special occasions, a flotilla will ‘berconvoy’ (as we say in Malaysia) to exotic locations, but these are rare. Usually, we head out on a solitary yacht, with friends or family. Because of this, it’s easy to forget the wider social aspect of boating. This aspect comes into play mostly when our vessels are docked, but really, these tips for marina etiquette can apply wherever we anchor for the night.

Keep it down

We’ll start with the obvious ones. The key is to be considerate, and notice your surroundings. Some marinas have an active night life, some don’t. Adjust your volume accordingly. If there is a polite request to bring it down (or up, you never know, your neighbour may dig your tunes), acquiesce. Besides the music, leaving the generator or engine running is also discouraged, especially late at night, and all marinas have quiet hours that must be obeyed.

Be flexible
On the other side of the coin to the advice above is, be flexible. Your neighbour may be celebrating a big occasion, so give them some room. If you do have to say something, then head over personally with a polite request – marching over to the dock master with a complaint should be the last resort.

Switch it off
Heading to a beach-side café? Remember to switch everything off. This is good to both the planet and your neighbours.

Keep your speed down
This is one of the first things new boaters will learn. When passing a boat, it is polite to ease off on the throttle so the wake of your boat don’t upset the passing vessel. Marinas have speed limits, but for the added comfort of your neighbours, go even slower to minimise any jostling to surrounding crafts. This also gives you ample time to react to fellow boaters manoeuvring around you.

Dock stern-in
Aka reverse into the parking space. This makes it easier to get on and off your boat aft, and as importantly, it keeps the bow from extending over dock, which then makes it a safety hazard for anyone walking by.

No clutter
On the subject of docks: always coil your lines and organise any utility cables. When darkness sets in, any disorganised line equals a tripping hazard. Stow away any equipment that has no business being on the dock, and don’t leave rubbish out as well, as they will attract pests.

Dipping the line

Image courtesy of Captain John’s Skipper Tips YouTube channel.

When sharing a pole or pile, there’s a best practice called dipping the line. Essentially, if you are the second person to the pole, always ‘dip’ (go under the loop) of the existing line. That way, your neighbour will be able to remove their line without disturbing yours.

Never board without asking
Always ask permission to board another’s vessel with a “Permission to come aboard, Captain”. Jokes aside, boarding without asking is more than an etiquette breach; it is trespassing on another’s property and can have serious consequences.

Don’t dawdle
When refueling, don’t take any longer than is necessary. This applies to the loading dock as well. Marinas have a time limit for both, so keep an eye on your clock. If a situation should arise and you need to exceed the limit, give the boat waiting in queue a holler to explain, and notify the dock master immediately.

Know the rules

All marinas have established policies to ensure a peaceful, happy community. They are pretty similar anywhere around the world, but some may have special ‘house’ rules, so give them a read or speak to the marina manager. This should give you a quick lay of the land before you even get there.

A breach of etiquette is not the end of the world. An apology goes a long way to maintaining friendly relations with the boaters around you, and so does a friendly request. Having a gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) approach to boating is the nutshell, so let’s all work together to keep our community friendly and easy-going.