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Old 06-07-2010, 08:35   #1
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Cruising / Boating Etiquette - Writing the Unwritten Rules

One of the things that I most enjoy about the forum is that I can learn from the accumulated wisdom (and mistakes) of those who have gone before me. They say boating is the harshest school because the exams generally precede the lessons, but the Internet and the generosity of the community has let us all learn countless things - some large, some small - that could previously have only be gained through direct, hard-won (i.e. expensive, often dangerous) experience. Only now, with the advent of new media, it doesn't necessarily have to be MY experience (odd - I still manage to put a new spin on stupid mistakes all my own).

There are, of course, fantastic books, videos, websites, etc. out there with detailed advice from the hard-core practical to the poetic.

However, something that doesn't often feature in formal publications are all the small things that make the boating community work - etiquette, for lack of a better term. Need to know how to heave-to? Dozens if not hundreds of resources available. Need to understand exactly how much anchoring scope in a given condition for a given boat and set-up? With the right research, this information is out there for the taking. But, what do you do if you come up to a marina and the only available mooring is raft up to a stranger - is there a procedure to approach them? Is it bad form to grill on a BBQ in a marina? How close is too close when in a crowded anchorage - should you sail over to your neighbour and introduce yourself before dropping the hook?

Courtesy and common sense go a long, long way in any situation, but sometimes you just don't know what you don't know, so aren't even informed enough to formulate the question. I've heard veteran sailors on the dock grumbling about some "buffoon" who did this or that, while I've secretly thought "I had no idea that wasn't ok - I wonder what people are grumbling about me".

So, here's a call to assemble all those little things that you'd wish someone had told YOU when you first set out...

... and here's to less grumbling!

Cheers,
Rob


(apologies if there is a already a Study Hall posting for this - I didn't see one).
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:13   #2
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Here's 10c worth of "courtesy rules" :
-Never board a boat unless you are clearly invited/asked to do so
-Never walk across a boat's cockpit while rafted up , go around the foredeck
-Don't run generators or carry on other noisy work late in the evening or very early in the morning
-Keep your dock tidy and unimpeded
-Fly the courtesy flag if you're in a foreign country
-Talk to the people in neighboring boats if something you are about to do will affect them in any way
-Remember that a dozen crews on a dozen boats on some marina or anchorage do not necessarily make a "community"
And , like you said , common sense and courtesy will carry you most of the way.
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Old 10-07-2010, 14:49   #3
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- First thing to ask on a new boat - how does the kettle work.
- From then on have tea ready by the time Skipper arrives (coffee if Skip's american).
- Newest crew gets to be Roger, so expect to spend plenty of time in the galley until someone newer comes along.
- Always offer to wash the dishes.
- Bring chocolate or pringles. Every time.
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Old 10-07-2010, 15:27   #4
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The usual signal that rafting up is welcome is to leave fenders hanging. For example, it's common practice when using a yacht-club quest dock to hang the outboard fenders high so that another boat might also use the dock. (In this situation, you should always fly burgee of the club through which you are using reciprocal privileges.) When boat B rafts to boat A, B's dock lines are used. You must spring the boats so that the spreaders don't match up--you don't want to tangle the rigs if someone throws a wake through the harbor.

On most moorings, rafting is only done with friends, not with strangers.
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:33   #5
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Most of the courtesy lessons I learned by observation and by generally being overly sensitive. i.e. This is not my boat, not my stuff, not my space etc. I should create a minimalist footprint in terms of getting in other people's way until I get some cred.

I just moved to a new marina. Everyone is very helpful. If someone is standing nearby when docking they will come over to catch a line. After tying up they will offer a beer etc. However, as the newbie, I am definitely going along and getting along.

In terms of my biggest lesson it was when I started crewing on bigger race boats. No one on the boat has any interest in what I have to say. Do not offer tactics advice, sailing advice or even whether Dijon or Amercan goes better on the ham and cheese baguettes. Usually you will start out mid-deck/mast. There will be someone there with more experience hoping to get into the cockpit. Ask him or her what to do, not anyone in the cockpit. You can clarify the task at hand but generally the best question is "what next, boss"

When day sailing on someone else's boat it is generally, "Where do you want me and what do you want me to do?"
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:29   #6
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Originally Posted by RSMacG View Post
So, here's a call to assemble all those little things that you'd wish someone had told YOU when you first set out...
When I "first set out" I wish someone had made me learn to swim. or told me that the easiest time to learn a foreign language was as a 4 year old child

But nonetheless although I did manage to pick up a few things along the way, it still took me a while to learn / reinforce a few others:-

a) Not every Skipper knows what they are doing (including those you are onboard with / freinds with - not just "the idiot" coming down the fairway towards you)

b) that just because the Skipper knows about sailing / has sailed the 7 seas doesn't mean that his boat is automatically well maintained - might just be more relaxed at pushing the envelope.........or forgot

c) extensive crewing experiance does not a Skipper make.

d) extensive Skippering experiance does not a Crew make

e) be very picky about what vessels you travel on (boat condition and Skipper's abilities).

f) be nice to folk (at least start off that way )

g) give other folks all the consideration you would like, even if it puts you out a little bit. Unless you already know the Skipper is a prize c#nt (see f) above )

h) don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes - albeit that could be just a local rule. applied to Racers .

i) bring beer

j) if the problem is so great that can't be helped by simply putting the Kettle on - it's time to get in the liferaft...........
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:40   #7
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-Never board a boat unless you are clearly invited/asked to do so
Unless said boat is sinking or heading to imminent death then do whatever is necessary to stop that from happening without risking ones self or boat.
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Old 12-07-2010, 13:24   #8
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Courtesy flags are a requirement, not a courtesy.
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Old 26-07-2010, 21:39   #9
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I'm not sure if this is just between friends that I cruise with, but we usually bring our own plates and silverware when we are headed over to another boat in the anchorage for a potluck. None of us carry a 12 place setting of china onboard--(but we sure can squeeze that many into the cockpit! )
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Old 26-07-2010, 21:43   #10
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Wave to whoever passes by, and always wave back if someone waves to you. I like that about boating.
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Old 26-07-2010, 21:44   #11
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Courtesy flags are a requirement, not a courtesy.
and, as far as the USCG is concerned, you may not refuse to permit a "courtesy inspection."
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Old 26-07-2010, 23:51   #12
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Wave to whoever passes by, and always wave back if someone waves to you. I like that about boating.
That's unless they leave a huge wake in your path.
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Old 27-07-2010, 02:48   #13
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That's unless they leave a huge wake in your path.
Naah, I wave back even harder then, but don't use all my fingers...
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Old 31-08-2010, 06:25   #14
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Hey David_Used_Jumper, youve spent too long skippering your own boat. IN pratice long time skippers make quite bad crew.

A boat can only have one skipper, Your job as crew is to work with the skipper, if he isnt the best them help him, but dont undermine him. ( I'd send youover the side!)

Dave
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Old 31-08-2010, 06:45   #15
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Rob,

This is a great topic. Exactly what I need. Often when someone has been boating for years and has a ton of experience they forget that others are just getting their feet wet (sometimes literally).

I want to be helpful and courteous at the marina and the anchorages (everywhere really), I just may not know the little things. EX: Not blaring loud music - easy. Not listening to music softly that may carry over water more than you realize after 9p? 10p? 11p? - not so easy.

And bringing your own plates to a potluck? I'd have never thought to do that the first time. But, makes sense and great advice.

Thanks for starting this thread,
Kitty
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