Boater Safety & Etiquette


Boating, as a recreational sport, has been around for over 300 years. During this time many customs and traditions have been developed in order to help relieve the natural stress that comes with dealing with the elements. No matter how long you have been boating there is always that tense feeling when you are out there on your own. If this feeling ever goes away, you should probably take up golf. Whether underway, anchoring, mooring, docking at a marina or cruising with friends, don't add to the stress of your boating neighbor by ignoring custom and tradition.


Above all, remember that you are responsible for you own wake and any damage done by it.



Making waves
While you’re blissfully cruising away, your vessel is kicking up disruptive waves, otherwise known as wake. Those waves might be fun if you’re a surfer or a wake boarder, but for other boaters, they can be annoying and potentially even dangerous. Besides being a rude interruption, a speeding vessel’s wake may cause damage to other boats and even injure passengers. Consider these common wake mistakes and how to avoid them, courtesy of Boating magazine:

Too Close: If you run too close behind a boat that you want to overtake, you’ll have to cross a larger wake than you would if you were further back, which can result in a rougher, bumpier ride.


Too Fast: Don’t take wakes too fast. You should have a certain amount of speed to maintain control, you will likely want to stay within your boat’s planing speed


Wrong Angle: If you head into a large wake and take it perpendicularly (bow-first), you may launch the boat off the crest and land (hard) in the trough. Consider turning to take a wake on a diagonal (approximately 3- to 45 degrees).


You are responsible for your own wake and any damage done by it. You’re cruising across a channel and you avoid striking a cruiser by swinging into a shallow anchorage while traveling at a pretty good speed. That’s great, but look at how much wake you’ve churned up for the other boaters on the hook. If you’ve caused boats to bang into each other or knocked someone’s grill off their deck or otherwise harmed their property, you’re the one on the hook for the damages. Big wakes in crowded spaces is bad news.
 
Slow down if another boat is trying to overtake you. This is boating, not The Fast & The Furious. Tight channels, marina entrances, etc. should be single file. But if there’s room to pass and another vessel is coming alongside you, ease off the throttle and avoid a drag race. The faster your speed, the faster they’ll have to go to get around you. For safety and the serenity of everyone around you, just slow down and let them go around.
  


Keep it Clean

Pollution ruins the water for everybody. It kills fish and wildlife, detracts from the beauty of the landscape, and contaminates waterways. Respect the water by being an environmentally friendly boater.

Be careful when replacing your oil or refueling not to spill into the water.


Never, ever throw your trash into the water. Collect it and dispose of it properly when you’re shoreside. If space is an issue, it might help to remove all extraneous packaging materials such as unnecessary boxes before you load your supplies aboard your boat.


Ensure that your craft has proper onboard sanitation facilities and never dump any sewage into the water.


Avoid anchoring in areas with native reeds and grasses, which often support delicate ecosystems.




Mind Your Manners While Launching and Docking

Speed, efficiency, and consideration are the bottom line to minding your manners while launching and docking your watercraft.

Boat ramps often have long lines. If you’re inexperienced when it comes to backing your trailer down the ramp to the water, practice maneuvering your trailer in an empty parking lot or other vacant space.


It’s frustrating to others when you take extra time during launch to perform tasks you could have taken care of beforehand. Load your boat in the parking lot, and secure your belongings before beginning your launch. After you launch, steer your boat into an unused area and promptly return your towing vehicle to the parking lot so you’re out of the way of other boaters who are trying to launch. . Pull your boat over to a temporary dock to bring passengers aboard. Don’t drain, don’t clean, and don’t waste time. Everyone wants to be either on the water or off the water, just like you. Think in advance about how you can cut down your ramp time. Delegate responsibilities and practice them before you get to the ramp.

Proper launching and docking techniques are essential knowledge for any watercraft owner.


When you stop for fuel, keep in mind that other boats may be waiting to get to the fuel dock. Do not leave your boat at the fuel dock to get your takeout or items from your vehicle etc... Tie up securely, follow proper fueling procedures, pay the bill and move away to another docking area or guest slip if you need to do other business ashore.
 
Lend a hand. This is one of the unwritten laws that can say more about you as a boater than almost anything else. You should be willing to assist other vessels as they arrive and depart. While this courtesy shouldn’t necessarily extend to the entire marina, you should be alert to help out you folks in the adjoining slips. They toss you a line and you hold it or help guide them in. Then you hand them back the line and they tie off. It just takes a minute, and you’ve shown everyone what a standup boater you are.
 
The first one in blazes the path. If you’re entering an anchorage, mimic the other boats in how you tie off, how you anchor, how much line to use and how much distance you allow between the other boats.
 

Be sure to enter an anchorage or mooring area at a slow speed. This is like moving into a new neighborhood. You want your neighbors to like you. Again, you don't want to create a wake!


Remember that the first person in the anchorage has the right to determine the swing radius. Don't get too close to other anchored boats. The wind can change and in a matter of minutes you can have fouled and tangled anchor lines, and hulls and dinghies banging against each other.


If you need to use a spotlight, make sure you don't inadvertently blind your neighbor.

Before anchoring evaluate your intended behavior; the more music, people on board, children, pets and smoke from your barbecue that you intend to create, the further downwind you should be from your neighbors. Sound carries exceptionally well over water, remember that any comment you make may be heard.




Marina Manners


Respect your neighbors. If you have a loud boat (kids, music, barking dogs, smoky grills), make sure you leave plenty of space. Sound carries much farther on the water, and you can be heard clearly from a good distance away. Downwind is your friend. You never know who’s got an early getaway and is turning in early. Just like on terra firma, respecting your neighbors is the first step toward everyone “getting along.”

Get your fuel, pay your bill and move out of the way. If you need to buy lunch or head back to your vehicle, relocate your boat to the temporary docks. Again, fueling is a necessary part of your boating experience, but be considerate of other boaters who would also rather be out on the water.

If you are already safely docked in the marina and there is no dock master or helper around to assist boaters as they dock and undock, it is courteous to assist others in your vicinity with their lines. This may sound like an oxymoron, but boating is like a fraternity of individuals. Everyone has a right to their space but everyone provides assistance whenever necessary.

Make sure to keep the area around your slip clear. Roll up and stow hoses in such a manner as to not trip a passerby. Keep buckets, mops, tackle, docking lines and other items stowed in their proper place, not strewn around on the dock. When finished with equipment at the marina intended for common use, be sure to put it back where it belongs so others have access



Tips For On Board Guests

Whenever you invite guests aboard , you should explain to them in advance what is expected of them, especially if they are not experienced boaters.


Instruct your guests to bring  clothing appropriate for the climate in which you will be operating. Make sure each guest has a good pair of non-skid deck shoes. If your plans are to go ashore for activities other than lying on the beach, make sure they bring something more appropriate than a swimsuit and thongs.


Familiarize your guests with safety and emergency procedures before leaving the dock. Explain fueling procedures, docking and undocking plans etc.


Fishing is not permitted on docks


​Children are not allowed to run/play on docks or around launch ramp. Vehicles, Propellers, lines etc are serious business and your safety is our biggest priority


 ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR LIFE JACKETS.




Est. 1970

Swinging Bridge Marina