Recreational boating has been popular for centuries in just about every corner of the globe where there’s water to go out on. In all this time and regardless of culture, certain norms of behavior on the water have become established to ensure that all boaters have a good, safe time. Especially when you are at the mercy of the elements, it’s important to abide by universally accepted guidelines.
Follow these 10 rules of boating etiquette and you and your guests are sure to make the right kind of waves.
- Respect the rules of the ramp. Boating etiquette starts at the loading dock, before you even enter the water. Don’t get into position to launch your boat until you’ve done everything to prevent wasted time on the ramp. Anything less is disrespectful to your fellow boaters—especially in marinas that offer courtesy docks specifically for the purpose of speeding up this process.
- Watch your wake. The fastest way to make the wrong kinds of waves is to literally throw a big, obtrusive wake at another boat. A big wake can be much more than a nuisance when a small boat is at anchor—if they’re cooking food onboard, for instance, it poses actual danger. Same thing goes for passing: slow down and give a wide berth.
- Keep the peace. Crownline boats are phenomenal for throwing small parties and having a great time on the water—but a party can quickly become annoying to other boaters if not kept in check. If you’re going to crank the music, seek seclusion away from other boaters who may be out on the water precisely to escape that sort of noise.
- Carry in, carry out. This one should be common sense, but the persistence of trash on our shorelines is proof that it needs to be repeated. Plan for your trash and whatever you do, don’t toss it overboard. For your fellow boaters, it’s an inexcusable misstep; for nature, it can damage fragile ecosystems. Best to avoid both.
- Check your speed. Does your lake have a speed limit? Know it. Respect it.
- Getting passed? Slow down. If you don’t slow down, you could be making it impossible for the passing boat not to create a wake.
- Fueling up? Fuel, pay and go. A fueling station can seem like a great place to take inventory and stock up on supplies. Avoid the temptation, and relocate to courtesy/temporary docks nearby if you need more than just fuel.
- Offer to help. Friendliness among boaters and the willingness to help one another are what make boating so special. Keep that tradition alive on the water and at port. And if you’re on the ocean, bear in mind that stopping to assist boats is more than common courtesy, it’s the law.
- Stow your stuff. A messy marina is a dangerous marina. If something is not in use, it should be safely stowed.
- Wave! Boating is all about having fun, and being a part of a special community. Embrace it, enjoy it and share it.
We hope these guidelines are helpful. Remember, there is no substitute for learning the rules, guidelines and laws for your lake, marina or other boating venue.