If you’re new to boating, welcome! There is nothing better than sitting on your boat on a warm sunny day, reading a book and enjoying your favourite drink. There is also nothing worst that a irritating and inconsiderate slip neighbour. Dock etiquette’s are important! Consider this: there are boaters that have been in the same slip for decades. Long term boaters are not transient. They tend to stay in the same marina and same slip for years. If you are planning to get into boating, these will be your neighbours, and with any luck your friends. To that end, here are some tips on what not-to-do to maintain proper dock etiquette’s.
Lack of knowledge docking
This is a big one for me. Some folks buy boats that they can’t drive. Proficiency in driving and docking boats takes time. Its always a good idea to start with a smaller boat before you go big. See tips on purchasing your first boat here. Some people don’t heed this advise and as a result end up buying boats they can’t drive or dock and start running into other boats while docking. I have had neighbouring boats run into mine on three occasions. Folks also want to lend a helping hand to other boaters when docking. This gets old when your boating neighbour clearly is over their head when it come to operating their boats.
Obstructing the dock
Lawn chairs, step stools, rolled up carpets, large welcome mats, bicycles, coolers exc. I’ve seen them all! It’s a good general rule to keep your dock and dock fingers clear. This will keep your neighbour happy and honestly, obscuring the dock makes it harder for other boaters to manoeuvre. So this is a safety thing as well.
Excessive noise and Unruly Guests
The dock isn’t the place for a Dj Tiesto party. Try to keep your music levels down while still enjoying your day. Your neighbours will appreciate it. Keep your guests in check. No leaning on other peoples boats or putting your drinks on others boats. believe me this seems like common sense but it happens more often than you think. Keep your guest to the area of your boat as best as you can.
Lack of attention of house rules
Boaters are sticklers for rules and laws. They frown upon anyone who doesn’t follow them. This includes quite time, and federal and provincial laws. ie: no one wants to see you sail out with an open beer in your hand. For rules on drinking on a boat in Ontario follow this link.
Dinging other boats when loading your supplies
This one is pretty self explanatory. Most docks have dollies that you can borrow to help load your supplies when loading your boat. I have seen and heard of boaters being negligent and damaging the neighbours boat by scuffing or putting dents in the haul. Makes for a pretty awkward conversation on both end.
Dirty and neglected boats
Dirty and neglected boats are an eye sore. Just like you want your house neighbour to keep their grass cut and their yard clean, a good neighbour keeps their boat in or close to tip top shape. That generally means keeping it clean and maintaining it properly.
The Pesky, Gossipy and Mooching Neighbour
Oh boy, this is a tough section to write about because not only does this apply to the boating universe, most of you have likely run into these types of neighbours or friends in other areas of your life. When I decided to write about this topic, my intention wasn’t to preach manners, or to change behaviour. I included this because I believe based on my observations that these factors play a big role in the topic of dock etiquettes and general dock harmony. I’ll start with gossip. Gossip is human nature, but by keeping your gossip in check you can avoid unnecessary awkwardness on dock. The dock is a small world and word will likely get back to the person at the centre of the gossip causing longer term animosity. On dock, you tend to see the same people often, and running into those awkward situations is plain uncomfortable. Mooching; If I offer you a beer or lunch one day, offer it back, plain and simple. I have seen mooching and general cheapness cause issues between boat neighbours. Peskiness; Google dictionary definition “causing trouble; annoying”. enough said!
Dogs / pets
Control your animals. I used to have a neighbour with a barking dog that roamed the dock. Super annoying and a quick way to upset everyone.
Lend a helping hand
Help other boaters launch and dock their boats. Generally this is accepted practice unless waived off. On haul in and haul out days, stick around and help others. Contribute to the general well being of the dock and people will notice and intern look out for your interests.
After reading this you maybe asking yourself, why so stuffy? but the intention is not for it to be stuffy. Boaters love their boats, docks and friends on dock. They like to go to their boat for leisure and to decompress. My intention isn’t to scare you away, or to change the normal way you are or your behaviour. My purpose is to give you an honest insight into dock life based on experience. Like any other social place and over the years a harmony and general dynamic develops, and whether you agree with it or not, hopefully you will be able to live with it and work within it. The good news is, that you will soon come to find out as boaters before you have, that harmony on the dock is great for everyone. Fun on the dock and the friendships you’ll build, are also great. Enjoy your day, and toss me a beer will ya there fella!