Before you get that boat out onto the water, make sure you understand proper boating etiquette. Follow these basics to avoid offending others and to create a more enjoyable and safer experiences for everyone.
Know The Rules
When you’re well-informed and understand boat safetyboat safety you’re less likely to have an accident and you’ll enjoy lower insurance premiums, too. If you haven’t taken a boating safety class, do so. Many states accept online accreditation and many courses are free.
If your boat’s on a trailer, you need to get it into the water as quickly and efficiently as possible. Otherwise, you’ll probably have a line of fuming boaters waiting for the boat ramp. Focus on the task, and then clear the ramp for others.
Brief Your Passengers
Before anyone climbs onboard, they should understand what’s expected of them. You might want them to help out with duties or you might have special requests regarding drinking or smoking. Explain safety and emergency procedures, as well your itinerary and docking plans so they know what to pack.
Make sure that everyone knows that there’s very little space onboard, too. Recommend soft bags instead of hard luggage and the importance of water conservation and limited time in the bathroom.
Don’t forget about travel documents if you’re planning to visit foreign ports. Nothing’s worse than arriving at immigration only to discover someone forgot their ID.
Watch Your Wake
Boaters often forget that their wake can cause damage, and if your wake causes damage, you or your insurance policy will pay.
Always start your journey slowly and maintain a reasonable speed. When you overtake a vessel; slow down. If you’re the person driving the slow boat, you may need to reduce your speed so the other vessel can pass you comfortably. Otherwise, you’ll experience rocking as they must increase their speed to pass.
Anchoring & Mooring
Always enter the mooring area at a very slow speed. Many people stay on their moored boats, and they won’t appreciate the wake you create if you enter too quickly. Besides that, these areas are dense with boats and it is much harder to react if you’re going too quickly.
Whenever you approach another vessel, try to stay six to ten feet away. Strong gusts and currents can cause you to collide or tangle your lines with theirs.
Choose an area away from others if you intend to play music or barbeque, or if you have pets or children onboard. If using guest mooring, make sure that it’s not occupied and suitable for your vessel first.
Don’t start a dinghy motor at night if you decide to go ashore either. Use your oars. Others have a right to peace and quiet, and noise travels easily over water.
Keep Fuel Areas Clear
When you refuel, remember others may want to refuel too. Don’t leave your boat tied up while you shop or visit the bait shop. Get your fuel, pay the bill, and then move to a more suitable area.
Lend a Hand
If no one’s around to help another boater dock or get their boat off their trailer, lend them a hand. Boaters are usually a friendly group, and they’ll appreciate the gesture.
Greet Other Vessels
The universal greeting is a wave, and it’s not just to show you’re friendly (even though that’s a good thing, too). It lets other boaters know you see them so everyone can safely share the water and enjoy themselves.
Keep Slip Tidy
Don’t be that person that leaves hoses, power cords, docking lines, tackle, and mops lying around so other people have to look at them. Besides looking unsightly, they create hazards that could lead to accidents and injuries.
Store equipment properly and replace shared marina equipment where you found it so others can easily find it.
Manners and safety are everything if you want to enjoy many boat trips each season. Don’t forget to review your Rhode Island watercraft insurance policy either. Accidents and injuries can occur, despite your best efforts. Call your insurance agent so you know you’re well-protected.