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Old 25-05-2012, 14:35   #1
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Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

Hello,

I'm pretty new to sailing. One of my first goals is to sail to a nearby marina on a small island and have lunch.

My question is what is the proper etiquette when doing so. I'm told I should radio in (channel 66 in my area) and ask them if they have space for a boat my size and I give a description of my boat. Is that correct? Does that apply for all marinas or is there different etiquette in different areas?

I've been listening to channel 66 the past couple sails to see what other people are doing... just wanted to check with you all since I'm likely to pick up bad habits listening to everyone on the radio. Just looking for best practices.

I'm in Vancouver BC.

Cheers,

Tom.
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Old 25-05-2012, 14:40   #2
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

Call marina. Once they acknowledge, tell them you are looking for a mooring/dock space. They will ask you whatever they need to know. No sense in a long description of your request until they acknowledge you.
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Old 25-05-2012, 14:55   #3
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

As Illusion says. But here in the US, sometimes the cell phone works better than the VHF, so do take along contact numbers in any case.
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Old 25-05-2012, 20:15   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Tom
Hello,

I'm pretty new to sailing. One of my first goals is to sail to a nearby marina on a small island and have lunch.

My question is what is the proper etiquette when doing so. I'm told I should radio in (channel 66 in my area) and ask them if they have space for a boat my size and I give a description of my boat. Is that correct? Does that apply for all marinas or is there different etiquette in different areas?

I've been listening to channel 66 the past couple sails to see what other people are doing... just wanted to check with you all since I'm likely to pick up bad habits listening to everyone on the radio. Just looking for best practices.

I'm in Vancouver BC.

Cheers,

Tom.
Don't assume channel 66. Get cruising guide or google the marina to find the freqs. Also having the cell phone is a good idea. In fact calling them in advance to discuss their procedures might be a good idea. A really busy "lunchtime" marina may end up in a rafting situaiton and you will want to be prepared for that.

It will go something lke this...

"burger marina, burger marina. This is sv hungry hippo, sv hungry hippo, over" - technically you should make the identification call three times. Depending on radio congestion I never do. I usually identify the station I am calling at least twice. One to wake them up and one to do the business.

You likely get no reply (try again) or...

"vessel calling burger marina. Say again. Over"

"burger marina this is sv hungry hippo. We'd like to dock for x hours to have lunch. Please advise, over"

"hungry hippo proceed to (fuel dock, visitor dock, berth xyz) - you might want to think about the layout of the marina in advance as well.

Sometimes there will be marina crew to greet you and handle dock lines. Sometimes not.
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Old 25-05-2012, 20:57   #5
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

You should probably hail the marina on channel 16. They may use 66 for a working frequency but channel 16 is the international hailing and distress frequency. Call them on 16 and they should tell you what their working frequency is.
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Old 28-05-2012, 11:51   #6
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

Thanks for the advice everyone. Much appreciated.
I'm going to get their phone number and call them in advance to find out their procedures.

Cheers,

tom.
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Old 29-05-2012, 15:20   #7
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

Please don't call them on 16. Very few, if any, of the marinas up here listen in on 16 (nor, being land stations, are they required to, I believe) and you'll just be cluttering up an already hectic channel in that futile pursuit.

We generally check a current cruising guide for the freq for the desired marina before we call, and many of them have signs posted outside the entrance with the channel they monitor. Our personal experience is that some of them are better than others about monitoring their own posted channels. If we can't reach 'em on the radio, we'll look up the phone number and call directly. I guess we could skip the step but we're often out of the country and no sense racking up roaming charges if we don't have to.

I don't usually make them ask for everything. Once we make contact I fire off our length overall, desired time to stay, and preferred side to tie (if any). Depending on where it is I might mention my electrical requirements; small marinas out in the boonies have unconventional shorepower layouts at times. I'll let them prompt me if they need to know about draft, beam, or anything else.

We've never, even when we were appallingly inexperienced sailing newbs, encountered any marina operator who wasn't patient and helpful with us on the radio so don't worry about stumbling through the first few times. You won't even think twice about how to do it soon.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, although it's considered bad form generally, if we can't get hold of anyone at all we'll just stop and tie up and, leaving someone at the boat in case we need to move it quickly, wander around and hunt someone up on land. We've never caught any flack for doing this, but it does seem to be more acceptable the further north (particularly at smaller, less busy marinas) you get.
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Old 29-05-2012, 16:03   #8
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

Good advice here from Ex Cal and Scuzz. If your boat is fairly maneuverable then you'll have no problem.
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Old 29-05-2012, 17:26   #9
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Re: Radioing in to dock at a marina

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScuzzMonkey View Post

EDIT: I forgot to mention, although it's considered bad form generally, if we can't get hold of anyone at all we'll just stop and tie up and, leaving someone at the boat in case we need to move it quickly, wander around and hunt someone up on land. We've never caught any flack for doing this, but it does seem to be more acceptable the further north (particularly at smaller, less busy marinas) you get.
That has been my experience more often than not. Sometimes I was never able to get a hold of anyone, and just left a note on the office door of were I parked.

Sometimes I got a knock in the morning with a request for payment, sometimes I had to go chase them down.

Once after I finally was able to get someone the answer the phone the next day, (the office was closed and I wanted an dearly start), they asked when I was leaving, and I replied as soon as I take care of my bill, they replied don't worry about it, catch us on the way back, go ahead and leave.
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Old 29-05-2012, 17:41   #10
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Re: Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

depending on your area, make sure the chanel is correct. here inmexico the marinas use 16. psj in fla used 16 when i was there ....depends on the marina--use cruising guide and local knowledge. cannot beat local knowledge. if local knowledge says 66, use it.
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Old 29-05-2012, 17:45   #11
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Re: Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

If I know where I am going, I call ahead of time on the phone. They may not have any space for you and it sure would be nice to know in advance. When I lived in Mississippi, 'no slips available' was quite common, as was "you should have called yesterday" so it all depends on the marinas in that area.
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Old 29-05-2012, 18:07   #12
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Re: Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

Traveling the entire US east and west coast and the Gulf coast we have found that 95% of the time the marina will monitor VHF 16 and then ask you to switch to their working channel. Unfortunately more and more marinas don't monitor the VHF anymore so a cell phone will be the best way to contact those marinas. You need to be prepared to try both and then consider that sometimes you won't get a response on either. When they don't care enough to answer the phone or the radio we usually move on to the next one. Always have a plan B. Chuck
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Old 29-05-2012, 18:09   #13
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Re: Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

Just go on in. If it's a problem you will have no problem getting their attention.

Just kidding.
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Old 29-05-2012, 18:30   #14
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Re: Radioing in to Dock at a Marina

I use a cell phone primarily to make reservations. By VHF on the Chesapeake - call on 16 and then switch to their working channel.
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