Boating enthusiasts are flocking to the water as summer weather approaches. Because of this, our waterways are filling up with both experienced captains and novice boaters. With such a high level of traffic on the water, it’s more important than ever to navigate your boat in a safe, responsible way. Here are five tips for boating on crowded waterways. 

1. Be quick on the boat ramp.
When the boat ramp is packed, it’s important to be quick, efficient, and mindful of everyone else. Load all your gear into the boat before you pull up to the launch. The process will go faster that way. Blocking the ramp for too long will make everyone antsy and irritated. After launching, move your boat to the side of the dock to free up the ramp, and then move your vehicle and trailer. 

2. Become familiar with the water.
Make sure you learn about the channels, landmarks, potential hazards, sandbars, and more. Keep navigation charts onboard and use navigation aids to prevent you from running aground. 

3. Know the right-of-way rules.
When in doubt, be courteous. If you need to overtake another boat, give them plenty of room so your wake doesn’t disturb them. If someone else overtakes you, slow down and let them pass. 

4. Know what to do around anglers.
If you see a boat anchored out with anglers onboard, alter your route so the humm of the engine doesn’t scare away the fish. If you can’t maneuver around them, slow down as much as you can. If you can avoid fishing in a busy channel, do so. Try to find somewhere quiet and secluded instead. 

5. Mind your manners on the dock.
Just like everything else, there’s a particular etiquette on the dock that’s generally appreciated. When you’re fueling up, pump and pay, then move aside. When you tie up, be careful with your lines so you don’t create a tripping hazard. Since docks are high-pressure environments, be courteous, respectful, and efficient, and other boaters will show you the same courtesy in return.