Cockpit speakers and anchorage noise

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Phil Herring, Feb 11, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Phil Herring

    Phil Herring Dethroned Admin

    Joined Mar 25, 1997
    4,405 posts, 339 likes
    Hunter 450
    US Bainbridge Island
    Just about every boat built with a radio has speakers in the cockpit. Do you use those speakers? Do you worry about noise and other boats?

    More to the point, do you think other skippers worry about you when they crank the volume?

    How do you approach noise at anchor, and the fine line between your own enjoyment and noise pollution? (And it's okay to rant about generators, too!)


  2. DayDreamer41


    Joined Oct 29, 2016
    1,321 posts, 657 likes
    Hunter 41 DS
    Un Port Huron
    I love the sounds of nature but if the neighbors are enjoying their music I just turn down my hearing aids, ah I wish it was that easy. I wish others would be more respectful of their surroundings.

    Satori likes this.
  3. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    4,586 posts, 2,531 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    I have spent time at anchor or in a mooring in Maine, the BVIs and the USVI, several places along the ICW between FL and ME, St. Maarten and the Florida Keys. It's generally the marinas where our neighbors get noisy with their generators. Funny, since that is also where they have shore power. The only two sounds that stand out for me from being at anchor are, outboards and wind generators. I don't resent them, but I know people who refuse to install a wind generator because they hate that noise.
    Other sounds, like general revelry, music, especially music they are making themselves, etcetera, are the sounds of people enjoying and celebrating their lives. They don't bother me.
    I do think about it myself, because I know not every neighbor feels that way. Some people don't like certain kinds of music, some people don't like loud music, some people can't live with constant background noise of engines or generators or kids playing. I try to be respectful of that. However, within certain hours of socially accepted wakefulness, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it.
    At anchor on a peaceful night visiting Zafu in the BVIs, I played my harmonica with Bob Ward and his guitar. I was a little worried about disrupting the anchorage with our music, but I couldn't miss that opportunity to experience life and hoped no one else got annoyed. If anyone had complained, we would have stopped right away with an apology. No big deal. There's always something else to do.

    -Will (Dragonfly)

    Tfin70, Captmayhem, Tom J and 2 others like this.
  4. JamesG161


    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    3,603 posts, 1,320 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    We have 4 pairs of well place and balanced stereo speakers. Each pair has its own L-Pad volume control.
    We keep the cockpit pair turned down to minimum or essentially off to enjoy music or movie stereo below.
    When it is a party, its a party!

    Welcome all!

    If it is a private party, the music volume should be the same.

    There are several seasons of the year that everybody celebrates with loud music.
    1) Mardi Gras [currently underway here near New Orleans and along the coast]
    2) Jazz festival
    3) Fourth of July
    4) Christmas [sing along too!]
    Just like boat traffic, there should be rules of courtesy.

    Rock on...



    Y'all Come!
    PSSS: Oh I forgot, when the Saints win the Super Bowl next year!!

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    Will Gilmore likes this.
  5. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    4,586 posts, 2,531 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    Never been to Mardi Gras. Been often too Jazz Fest and hoping to go this year. Maybe the second weekend. Can't talk my wife into bringing Dragonfly down to stay on lake Ponchatrain. Too far to drive.

    No cockpit speakers either. Just my harp.

    -Will (Dragonfly)

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    JamesG161 likes this.
  6. justsomeguy


    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,892 posts, 1,177 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    If the music's good, okay then.
    Taste in music varies however.

  7. Afrakes


    Joined Jan 15, 2012
    82 posts, 16 likes
    Ericson 28/2
    US Port Kent
    Had a gentleman in our marina last year who used his boat as an office as well as his home. Played music loud all day long. Was warned numerous times by the manager that he should turn the volume down. The marina kicked him out mid season. Good riddance.

    Gene Neill, Alan Gomes and Tom J like this.
  8. DougM


    Joined Jul 24, 2005
    1,639 posts, 211 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Manistee, MI
    Never had the cockpit speakers turned on in all the years I have had the boat...
    All I have is a typical am/fm/cd radio and where I sail the selection of stations is pitiful, reception is poor, and my cds are at my other house. The radio is so old, it doesen’t even have an auxiliary input for my iPod..
    The benefit, i get to enjoy the solitude and/or good conversation.

  9. capta


    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    3,046 posts, 1,098 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    I think musical noise pollution is slowly fading out as Bluetooth takes over, making personal music more personal space oriented. However, last charter the Megayacht Helios played some really obnoxious music (rap & hip-hop) till 4 AM as loud as they possibly could, in an anchorage that is renown for having no residences, electricity or roads to get there. Just absolutely obnoxious and rude.
    Most generators and the like rarely bother me as the constant thrumming just sort of becomes part of the background noise in a few minutes. However, what can seriously destroy even the most pleasant day or night in even the most beautiful anchorage are the cheap, noisy windgens. They don't go on and off, even when their owners go to sleep, and a really noisy one can make it nearly impossible for us to communicate in our cockpit, even a hundred feet away or so.
    I literally spent years checking out every windgen on the market in every wind condition before I chose one. I just don't understand how those owners of the very noisy windgens aren't so embarrassed by the noise pollution they create, especially considering how little power they actually produce.
    I heard one woman remark at the bar that she loved the noise her extremely noisy windgen produced because it was the noise of free, non-polluting, renewable power. When I remarked that it was instead a source of extreme noise pollution she became quite miffed.

    Angus Fleming likes this.
  10. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    4,586 posts, 2,531 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    See, now that's about when a sailboat owner might consider the benefits of installing a good EMP. Pull up along side and shut everything down, then... sail away.

    -Will (Dragonfly)

  11. Justin_NSA


    Joined Jul 7, 2004
    5,558 posts, 1,170 likes
    Hunter 30T
    US Cheney, KS
    I try to keep mine low if we're in the cockpit. I have an RF remote I hang on the pedestal if I need to adjust or mute. You don't need line of sight to use it. I can even be somewhere on the dock.
    We use the fader at night when we are below so that the cockpit speakers are off.
    The ones that annoy me are the "tailgaters" on shore that blast music from their cars. Also the ski boats in the cove with the mega-amped sound systems.

  12. Ken Cross

    Ken Cross

    Joined Oct 24, 2010
    1,946 posts, 316 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Everett, WA
    Sometimes in a crowded marina, we have some noisy partiers nearby or worse clanging hailyards, but in an anchorage or at a buoy it's rare for me to be bothered by noise. I feel most people are pretty respectful. This boat doesn't have cockpit speakers but when I had them I didn't often use them.


  13. east coaster

    east coaster

    Joined Apr 10, 2010
    7 posts, 0 likes
    catalina 30
    US Dartmouth, nova scotia
    For capta,
    Based on your years of research of quiet wind generators which one do you have or can recommend?


  14. Satori


    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    9 posts, 2 likes
    Yamaha Y-30 MkII
    Ca Sidney BC
    When I get out on the boat up here in the Gulf Islands and San Juans, it is easy to anchor away from shore based noise. So in general I enjoy the relative silence.
    I do have separately controlled cockpit speakers and when I do use them they're at quite low volume or when I'm motoring. At anchor I figure my "noise" should stay on board my boat. Daytime noise around you has to be expected, and early evening I can usually deal with it, but keep it down when the sun is down ok?
    What gets to me are: a) stink potters that have their engines on to charge batteries and the burbling their exhausts for hours. b) boats that have portable gennies sitting on their transom step puttering along for hours. c)spring & fall, the sound of diesel furnaces howling away for hours (I removed mine and replaced with a Dickinson)
    And like Will, got my harps and mandolin which I believe are not too disruptive to the anchorage. Though if folks are anchored close, I'll be sitting quietly in the cockpit, glass in hand watching the world around me.

    JamesG161 and Will Gilmore like this.
  15. ifmdalvey


    Joined Feb 2, 2010
    311 posts, 20 likes
    Island Packet 37 Hull #2
    US Harpswell Me
    I have a silent wind MK450 and think its the quietest around, i also wear hearing aids, so might be biased.

  16. Gunni


    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,943 posts, 1,486 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    We rarely get close enough to other boats at anchorage to be bothered by their poor manners. There was one instance where a large motor yacht pulled in at the crowded Tobago Cays and scoped his tackle so he was floating over our anchor. I recognized the boat as the property of a wealthy drunk American skipper from Grenada. I had helped him with some wiring work back in Grenada that was keeping him tied to the dock; at the request of his grandson. As it grew dark he switched on his big screens and fired up his genset. The noise and fumes rolled over our boat. My rule is quiet time starts at 10 pm.

    Knowing that the guy was a notorious late night drinker, I decided to have the confrontation early. My wife gave me The Look. I Jumped in the dink and motored over. After receiving permission to come aboard Capt. Scotch offered me a drink, and directed his grandson/deck boy to get me what I needed. We settled into some nice chairs in his large saloon and I told him I was the skipper of the sailboat directly behind him. The droning genset was barely audible, more of a vibration in the floor. I asked him how long he intended to run his genset? “All night, if I feel like it”, he said with scotch courage. “Well, I have 5 crew and we’ll be racking out at 10pm, so I need you shut down no later than 10”. I stood up , laid my cup down, and we stared at one another for some long seconds. “Good night captain”, I said, and climbed down the swim ladder to the dink.

    Back at the boat my wife resumed The Look, relieved that I was bruise free and no one had ended up in the water. By then the stink of the running genset had filled the boat. I grabbed a beer and sat down in the cockpit with my long time wingman and sailing pal. He said, “was that Captain Scotch.” “Yeah”. I told him what had happened, and the surly response. We looked at one another with knowing resignation - a confrontation with a fightin drunk usually goes badly with me. “Let it go, we’ll just deal with it”, said my pal. “Yeah”, I said, thinking of the three women aboard. They were on a wonderful holiday, swinging under a star-filled sky in the most beautiful place they had ever seen. Still the mood aboard was tense as the ambience had changed from tropical surf to Jersey bus station. It was going to be a long night with hatches dogged.

    A few minutes before 10 the genset stopped. The sound of surf breaking on the reef returned. I climbed up to the cockpit and looked forward. Captain Scotch’s grandson gave me a wave from the pilot house rail. I smiled and waved back. They were gone by 0800.

  17. Hello Below

    Hello Below

    Joined May 7, 2012
    588 posts, 59 likes
    Hunter e33
    CA Maple Bay, BC
    Do you figure Les and John have noisy neighbours in their Inlet?

  18. thinwater


    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    2,274 posts, 541 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    Making other people listen to your tunes, no matter what they are, is like spitting on the sidewalk; it is a public nuisance. I learned that 40-50 years ago in school. Even in college I felt playing the radio loud with the windows down was rude. I like loud music, but I never felt I had the right to make others listen to it.

    I've had stereos in the cabin, but I NEVER played it through cockpit speakers, even in my youth. Noise carries on the water. I consider cockpit speakers to be a negative "feature."

    Remember, it is NOT about whether you find it rude, but whether others might.

  19. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    10,060 posts, 3,072 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    We love our sound system on the boat, and listen to it a lot, both underway and at sail. Both Bluetooth linked and a dedicated iPod with 30K songs. Like @JamesG161 says, "when its a party'..... except when its not. We're always respectful of others, and expect the same. Pulling into an anchorage, you can usually tell the boats that are going to be a problem. But if you guess wrong or someone arrives after and leaves it cranked, then its time to break out the MarineBeam ULRLEDIF, aka 'The light saber'. They usually get the idea.


    Captain Larry-DH, Tom J and JamesG161 like this.
  20. Tedd


    Joined Jul 25, 2013
    102 posts, 29 likes
    Macgregor 26S
    CA near Vancouver, BC
    I pretty much agree with this. I don't even have any means of playing music on board my boat, other than our smart phones, which we don't use to play music. My wife does often bring her acoustic guitar but I don't think she'd play it if there were anyone within earshot.

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