Boat holidays are still far away but a reminder of boating etiquette, along with precious advice to live with other passengers for two-three weeks within tight spaces, are generally useful. In other words, good manners know no seasons.
They are short essays about boating etiquette, useful to increase the awareness of those who are approaching an exciting holiday characterized by a pleasant contact with nature but also by the stress of living in very narrow spaces which would annoy even a lab rat. And there are similar vademecum for the captains, too, who, in their turn, can adopt them as a point of departure for further “rules” and advice to suggest beyond their personal experience.
However, when the main issue is not just ” boating etiquette” but rather good manners about what exists out of the boat, the material available in not equally significant. Probably because, in this case, the first figure to be involved is that of the captain who should transmit some basic rules to his own crew, especially in the case of an occasional and unexperienced one.
Of course, this article doesn’t claim to solve the problem or suggest extraordinary rules but it wants to offer a further analysis on subjects that generally don’t appear in any boating guide or educational text.
Even though there are not many chances to interact with other crews or boats at sea, a proper use of the radio is essential for a diligent crew. We all know the basic rules of VHF radios: listening on channel 16, absolute silence for three minutes after the hour and the 1/2, brief communications, quick passages to other channels and so on.. However, many boaters use channel 16 for private conversations and jokes or to stream music from their smartphone.
Sometimes, boating etiquette is damaged by some dangerous and almost unconscious attitudes: many boaters, for example, speed up at the mouth of harbours or change their course in the very last minute in order to arrive first. Not to mention quarrels at the filling station or when two boats leave their berth at the same time in a very tight space..
Good manners start with little things, even on a boat
Often these are little mistakes due to an elementary knowledge of common rules or to a lack of common sense or empathy. On board, the proper use of one’s “vital space” and the emphatic respect of the others’ one is the key element that determines the success of a forced companionship.
Then, if we pass from this microcosm to the larger one of the interaction between different boats, the principle doesn’t change: everyone must respect his own boat and his neighbors living on the other boats.
Interaction between these different “vital spaces” become immediate in both ports and anchorages. It starts from the mooring maneuver and the difference between a calm authoritative captain who has clearly shown rules and duties to his crew and a shouting captain with a poorly educated crew. Of course, the latter will make other people in the port skeptical and suspicious.
Quays are a common good, so it’s important to keep everything in order and throw out trash in the waste collection station with no “intermediate” stops. Furthermore, sailing with pets – dogs, mostly – has become an increasingly common practice. The management of their walks and inevitable physiological needs requires particular care in order to prevent them from turning in a contention issue with the others. Moreover, the fact that yachtsmen are required to use the toilets available in the marinas instead of their own ones (unless they have a sewage tank, absolutely necessary when at anchor) doesn’t need to be mentioned. Battery charge with the engine on placed upwind is another attitude that should be avoided for obvious reasons. However, many boaters seem to forget this basic rule, as if their personal needs were more important than inconvenience.
Another situation where the risk of invading other people’s space can easily become concrete concerns “noise“. Summer, we know, means enthusiasm, loud music, long conversations, jokes and much more. However, it is always important to take a look at our watch at night, especially at anchor. Quarrels and angry outbursts even on the phone are a holdover of the city but we should remember that their effects in a marina or an anchorage are totally different. At sea, in fact, the “protection” of the urban environment is missing. Listening to a husband inveighing against his partner or witnessing a long quarrel is not only uncomfortable but can even engender further aggressiveness.
A final advice concerns ” kindness“. Offering mooring assistance to another boat, tiding lines below those of a boat that has already docked, using a proper number of additional fenders instead of moving the other’s ones away, asking for permission if necessary and so on are all details of a peaceful cohabitation. Even reading the internal rules of our host marina (they’re always very detailed and useful) can be considered as an act of kindness towards the common space. Finally, saying “good morning” or smiling often makes the difference between a beautiful holiday and a simple reiteration of what we already live in the city.