It is important for all boaters to be well aware of boating etiquette. Being polite before launching, out on the water, and getting the boat out can go such a long way and is also smart in terms of safety. Understanding the proper behavior among the boating community will also allow for smoother, more fun experiences. Boating etiquette is associated with social norms, but it will also help all passengers remain safe, so it is crucial to understand the rules prior before heading out.

The Basics of Water Rules

If there are two boats heading straight for each other, both vessels should turn to starboard and pass port to port to help avoid the uncertainty and guessing about the other captain’s next move. Something so simple can greatly help to avoid collisions. Also, a sailboat under sail should always be granted the right-of-way over a powerboat. However, if a sailboat is running with an engine, even if it has its sails up, it is considered a powerboat. When in a situation of being overtaken, it is your responsibility to stay on course and speed up, unless that would put someone in danger. In that case, you can simply slow down and let the other boat pass. Regardless of right-of-ways, your main goal should always be to avoid a collision. When another boat is coming up on the right, you should give them the option to pass you. If there is a vessel with a restricted ability to maneuver, whether it be because of size, draft, or any other reason, you should accommodate it. Kayaks, canoes, and the like have the right-of-way over any other vessel, including a sailboat.

Courteous of Other’s Time

When launching or retrieving your boat at a ramp, you should be as efficient as possible to be polite to those waiting. It is helpful to pull over to a dock or beach to load guests and gear. The same goes for unloading and cleaning, do not do so on the ramp. When you are getting fuel at a fuel dock, do your duties and move out of the way. Relocate your boat if you need to purchase anything at the shop.

Anchorage Rules

To anchor the boat, use the same method as the other nearby boats in how you tie off, the amount of line to use, and the distance between you and the other boats. This will help all the boats move in the same way if the current or wind changes. It is respectful to make sure you do not run the generator past 8:00 pm or before 7:00 am and never speed anchorage to avoid swimmers and creating a wake for other smaller boats.

Environment Courtesy

Under no circumstances should trash be thrown overboard. If it’s organic like banana peels or fish guts, that is biodegraded and can be tossed over if you’re far enough from shore, harbor, or anchorage.

Assistance Cues

It is nice to offer to help tie up another boat on the dock; however, if other boaters wave you off, they simply respect that they have their own method and do not want assistance. Always stop to check on a vessel in distress or offer to relay messages to rescue agencies. It is actually a legal responsibility to offer assistance as long as you don’t impose yourself.

Radio Conduct

Radio distress calls should be taken with the utmost seriousness and should not be used for casual conversations with other boaters. Making a false distress call is illegal so teach children that the radio is not a toy.

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