Whether you’re tagging along for the day, or you’ve owned a boat for years, there are a lot of things to think about when you’re getting ready to get out on the water. What time are you going? Does everyone coming know where to meet? Is everything charged that needs to be? Are there enough life vests? Fishing poles? Sandwiches?
With all there is to keep track of, though, there’s one big thing to keep in mind: your fellow boaters. No one likes a nuisance on the water or the docks, and certainly no one likes to be the nuisance. Here are some things to keep in mind to be a good neighbor, whether you’re boating past or tying up next to someone.
Be efficient when loading up or docking. You’re probably going to have a bit of gear with you when you’re headed out, but be mindful that you’re not the only person looking forward to the day. Load your things into the boat as soon after arrival as you can, so your items aren’t in the way (or tripping hazards) for others, and try to pack with as few trips between the boat and the car in mind to reduce traffic and bodies on the dock.
Be mindful of your noise. Of course boating is fun, and it’s exciting to have an offshore get-together, but sound carries excellently over water and it’s important to be mindful that your conversations and music might travel farther than you’re used to. We’re not saying you need to whisper, but turning the singalong down a notch or two can make a big difference in someone else’s day.
Tie down/stow any loose gear, especially items that might blow out of the boat. It sounds obvious, but it’s not just about making sure you don’t lose your hat in a gust. When docked, it’s a good idea to make sure things are stored in a way that will keep them from flying down the beach coming loose, including any heavy lines that might knock against other surfaces. There’s nothing like the loud slapping of a loose rope against the side of a boat for hours to bring down the mood of a seaside dessert.
Take stock of your surroundings. Again, it sounds pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Make sure you’re looking all around you when driving or sailing, noting where other boaters are and where they’re headed. The same goes for dock etiquette; make sure you’re being deliberate in your attention to the people around you and not impeding their day. It’s nice to snap a selfie with the waves in the background, but maybe step off to the side to do it in case the person behind you is trying to roll a cart right where you’re standing.
Of course these don’t take into account the “rules of the road” when it comes to boating itself. With so much to remember, though, it’s just as important to take a moment for the smaller things like being courteous, being mindful of how what you’re doing affects others’ experiences, and–like we said–maybe making sure your new lucky shirt doesn’t end up in someone else’s captain’s chair.