Marina Etiquette Basics: Top Five Rules for a Neighborly Boating Community

Marina Etiquette and safety

Ideally, marinas are a boater’s utopia—a place to relax, unwind and enjoy the company of fellow enthusiasts after a long day spent on the water. If you’re new to the marina environment, it’s important to first get acquainted with what’s expected from its members. The majority of marinas have set standing policies to ensure a peaceful, safe community. Although there are several rules common to generally all marinas such as keeping dogs on leashes, not swimming in the marina waters and not riding bikes on docks; some venues might have “house rules” to manage potential complications that have come up in the past at that specific location. It’s always a good idea to first get “the lay of the land” by getting in touch with the marina manager or dock master to learn about parking passes, regular pavilion events and other regulations you should be aware of to keep the marina running smoothly. Here are a few basic hard-and-fast rules to keep in mind when adjusting to the marina life:

1. Slow and Steady

You might be in a rush to make those dinner reservations after a long day on the water, but when you’re pulling into a marina be sure to slow down to 6 knots or less. Maintaining a safe speed will give you more time to react to fellow boaters maneuvering around you, prevent disturbing others with your wake, and keep noise levels down.

2. Dock Properly

It might take a little extra time, but make it a habit to always dock stern-in. It’ll be worth the effort, not only does it make it considerably easier to get on and off your boat aft, it also provides a clearer walking path along the docks for fellow patrons. Never let your bow extend out over the dock. It is a safety hazard, especially if the anchor is protruding near the walkway. Marinas are busy places, and as long everyone takes the time to dock in an organized fashion, things will flow along more efficiently, safely and with less hassle.

3. Ditch the Clutter

Nothing irks boaters more than a sloppy tenant. Always neatly coil your dock lines; organize any tangled shore utility electrical cables; stow watersports gear, uneaten food, life jackets and cleaning supplies. When the sun starts to set, it’s difficult for those walking along the dock to spot those hazards.

4. Keep it Down

Be considerate and use some common sense when it comes to noise levels—some marinas have a more active nightlife than others. Don’t get too rowdy if you see the majority of other boaters turning in early. Hitting up the marina restaurant or café for dinner? Be sure to shut down all of your gear first. Turn off all your lights, your marine radio equipment, CD players, televisions and anything else that might be a distraction to your dock neighbors while you’re away from the boat. Additionally, while marinas are a great family environment, be sure to keep an eye on your kids.

5. Don’t Drag

Need gas? Fill up and get a move on! Need to stock up on supplies or unload? Do so only in the designated areas and don’t lag around the launch ramps. Although most boaters are generally patient, friendly individuals, constantly holding up traffic at these busy communes can be a common and easily-avoidable source of friction. When taking on fuel or loading gear, move your vessel from the fuel dock or loading float as soon as you have completed the task. Do not exceed the posted time limits without the dock master’s consent. If necessary, plan in advance and develop a go-to strategy for fueling, loading/unloading and launching to minimize any extended delays.

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