There is nothing worse than a rude boater.
Just last weekend, my family and I were up in Island Park, Idaho and we were getting ready to put our boat back on the trailer. My husband was second in line at the top of the ramp when I realized we were the only boat at the dock. Since it was a dual ramp, I figured it was okay to move our boat into position though I was having a hard time figuring out what the truck in front of my husband was doing. When this person started backing down, he opted to drive straight down the middle, effectively ruining any chances of us loading up at the same time as him and his boat wasn’t even at the dock.
A few moments later, a woman jumped out of the truck, holding her well-dressed dog and asked me to move my boat to the far side so she could wave her boat in.
What the what?
I didn’t want to be rude so I agreed and proceeded to wait 15 minutes as she jumped up and down, trying to get the attention of her family so they would come in.
First world problems, I know. But it really took a lot of self-control to stand around while my husband waited patiently at the top of a side-by-side ramp because one truck decided to take up both lanes. And their boat wasn’t even close to ready.
It occurred to me after we finally got our boat loaded up there are worse things in this world. Even the annoyance at the end of the day couldn’t ruin our fun. In fact, it inspired the first rule of boating etiquette.
1. Go with the flow. Chances are, you had a blast on the water. By the end of the day, you are tired but guess what? Everyone else is too! Be patient and work with everyone else to help load boats onto trailers or guide them into slips. Don’t let a bad attitude sully good memories.
2. Take it slow. As you come into the marina, remember no wake is a speed limit. Creep in and give yourself more time to react when you’re guiding the boat in.
3. Clean up early (as best you can). As you’re ending the day, start collecting shoes and other items that will be leaving the boat in a separate pile. Then put away everything away that needs to stay in the boat. This way, when you get back to the marina, you’ll be ready to jump off and head home instead of packing up at the dock. This allows other people to move quickly through narrow docking areas as well.
4. Show others respect by acting motivated. Need to pack or unpack the boat? Use the designated areas. Don’t dawdle around. Boaters are typically very patient, but this is not a theory that needs testing. With some advance planning you can launch and retrieve efficiently and other boaters will be able to see you’re trying your best.
5. Don’t leave your gear on the dock. So remember the story I told previously about us being inconvenienced? After we got back to the boat, I realized my kids and their two friends had ALL left their shoes in the middle of the dock. So people had been walking over and around them all day. And here I thought we were perfect boaters. Oops. Picking up your stuff is good for safety.
6. Don’t leave food or garbage out in the boat or on the dock: it attracts all kinds of unwanted things: rats, roaches and flies, or in our case, grizzly bears.
7. Be aware of nighttime hours. For people sleeping at the marina, noise late at night will be an annoyance. Crazy, I know. If you are coming in late, kill your louder equipment (radio, generator, etc.) before you hit the no wake zone as a courtesy.
8. Start picking up on “The Rules.” Every marina has their own specific ways of doing things. Even if you are only visiting for one day, observe how others are handling things. If it seems legit, do it as well. Some marinas with launch ramps have separate docks down the way for waiting. Move your boat there while you park your vehicle.
At the end of the day, remember the golden rule applies to boating as well. Do unto others as you would have them to do you. If we all follow this, time on the water will only get better.
Article Written by Katie Burke