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Marina etiquette

Discussion in 'Smaller Boats' started by john6206, Apr 28, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. john6206


    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    74 posts, 7 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    Hi all -
    After something like 20 years of daysailing, we are going to be staying in a marina for the first time this summer.

    I've booked a slip for 5 days on the Grand Traverse Bay (Lake Michigan). The Sutton's Bay marina is located in the heart the charming town. Close proximity to restaurants means we don't have to cook in the tiny boat.

    We will likely attempt to sleep on the boat a couple nights, and then head to an inn or a hotel or something nearby - much probably depends on weather, and if the desire for comfort outweighs the desire for adventure.

    So, I think most etiquette things are common sense: don't be too loud, respect other people and their boats, etc. But what do I need to know that I might not know?

    Any suggestions for a book to read? or any advice for a newbie?

    Thanks -

  2. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    5,183 posts, 361 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    Nothing special other than what you already said. My only addition is to avoid leaving dock lines, hoses or power cables where others might trip.

    SailingBill, Will Gilmore and Rick D like this.
  3. john6206


    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    74 posts, 7 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    That makes sense, thanks.

  4. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,655 posts, 2,707 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Boat cockpits are like porches. Part of their house, and everyone uses them differently. So some privacy respect goes a long way. When you walk by if someone smiles, waves, or says HI, then exchange a friendly greeting. Otherwise just walk on by.

    Don't rush to help people with lines. Most boats have an orderly system they are proud of, and someone rushing to help can be taken as a slight.

    Be sure to turn off your boat lights. In particular any light on the mast.

    Don't put anything in the water. Don't feed ducks or seagulls.

  5. JamesG161


    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    3,312 posts, 1,096 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    I would also walk around the marina [especially near your berth] and look at boats. When we do that, there is always someone who is aboard their boats.
    We all love to talk about out boats.

    •Your berth neighbors will guard and keep an eye on your stuff too.
    •Have some cold drinks aboard to share.
    •Ask them of best places to visit and eat locally.
    •Talk about sailing and high seas adventures

    Have fun...

    PS: Jack and I were typing at the same time;)

    Alansails, JimInPB and Jackdaw like this.
  6. Scotty C-M

    Scotty C-M

    Joined Apr 11, 2012
    319 posts, 23 likes
    Cataina 400 MK II
    US Santa Cruz
    Sounds like you have the right idea.

    One thing that is specific to boats is to be sure to tie off your halyards so that they don't "slap" in the breeze. Wraping them around the spreader, or using a line to tie them off the mast, or belaying them to the outboard rail are things that work. Sometimes boats with in-mast curlers have a "flute" effect that can be addressed by using a sliding foam slug.

    Another idea that you might consider is to keep any music you play at a low volume in the outside environment - but that's just common sense. Like keeping your voices low in the night or morning.

    Have a great time.

  7. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    3,481 posts, 1,602 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    I believe deeply in the Golden Rule.
    Look at your boat and yourself as if you were looking as someone else. What would you want for a dock neighbor.
    As a kid living aboard, I woke at about 2 am to my mother yelling, "Get him out of the water!"
    My father had gone over to ask some visiting motor yacht to shut off their generator. He could be a bit brusk about things like that. The young guys aboard took exception to his interference in their late night partying and one of them climbed off the boat and round house kicked him into the water. Someone else told my father to let it go because those guys were mobsters out of Chicago. Who knows.
    If his neighbors didn't stop their halyard from slapping, my father would climb aboard and tighten it down himself. I don't always agree with the way my father interacted with others, but I respect that he's not the only one that feels as he does about things.

    - Will (Dragonfly)

  8. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,655 posts, 2,707 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Unless life or boat is in real and immediate danger, DO NOT go onto anther persons boat without permission. If something needs to be addressed, get the dock captain or marina manger to sort it out. Double true if you're a visitor.

    SailingBill, JimInPB and Will Gilmore like this.
  9. Joe


    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    6,571 posts, 370 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    As Scotty C-M mentioned, halyard slap is annoying so be aware... it can also be annoying to you if an unattended, neighboring boat has the problem... it can get to the point of sleeplessness if the wind comes up in the middle of the night and a minor bother suddenly becomes intolerable. I have had that experience in a transient slip next to a number of brokerage boats... who obviously wouldn't know or care because ... well.. because. I had no problem taking a few pieces of small stuff and tying off the pesky halyards so I could get some sleep. If they don't like me on their boat in the middle of the night.. then let them keep their boat squared away. Sorry for the rant.. but that night is etched in my mind.

    Another thing that may not have been mentioned is PETS... most marinas have rules about leaving unattended pets aboard, Be aware that going out to a restaurant and leaving your dog aboard the vessel... who then starts barking 'cause he misses you... will almost certainly result in a call to security and an embarrassing reprimand, or maybe a fine, from the marina management... plus dirty looks from your dock neighbors the next day..

  10. SFS


    Joined Aug 18, 2015
    1,538 posts, 477 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Tampa Bay
    Wow, most of the marinas we've been over the last 6 weeks have had barking dogs, and it just seems to be tolerated. If everyone handed out fines, maybe that would help, but how are you going to collect?

  11. john6206


    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    74 posts, 7 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    Will - I think our father's would have been good friends.

    My brother got kind of heavy into drugs in high school - so dad went to the dealer's house and kicked the hell out of him. Baddest, meanest drug dealer in a pretty small town -vs- WWII / Korean War vet . . . paratrooper . . .
    kinda hard for my brother to score drugs after that.

  12. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    3,481 posts, 1,602 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    John, my father was a Golden Gloves boxer in the navy. Between the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war. Air crewman aboard AJ Savage bomber (2 turning and 1 burning).

    And just too make my philosophy of marina etiquette clear. I would welcome anyone to come aboard my boat to stop any annoying and inconsiderate halyard slap or the like w, but I would never do that myself. I'm with Jackdaw, only emergencies to save life, limb or expensive property would I consider trespassing onto someone else's boat. I would open a car door to roll a window up in the rain or even shut off some head lights. I would not feel free to do something like that just for my benefit.

    - Will (Dragonfly)

    Rick D and jon hansen like this.
  13. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,078 posts, 549 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    all the above is good. do understand that docks, marinas are full of people just like you that spent allot of time and energy and money to do one thing. HAVE FUN. with their toys. everyone is in a great mood. they are in relaxation mode. it's almost always a fun place to be. it's going to be great. you might even meet a buckeye fan :)

    SailingBill, Rick D and Will Gilmore like this.
  14. BigEasy


    Joined Jun 21, 2004
    1,016 posts, 238 likes
    Beneteau 343
    US Slidell, LA
    While all of the above suggestions are spot on, I would also ask the harbor master for a copy of the "official rules" for the marina. There will likely be many of the above items on the list; however, you definitely don't want to violate any of the rules that the marina management folks set forth. In addition to the marina rules, and the ones that have been suggested, just be friendly & courteous and you'll make some new friends during your stay. Overall sailors/ boaters are a friendly lot; don't be surprised if some of the regulars walk up and start a conversation about your boat or hailing port.

    SailingBill likes this.
  15. Stu Jackson

    Stu Jackson

    Joined Feb 26, 2004
    20,129 posts, 692 likes
    Catalina 34
    224 CA Maple Bay, BC, Canada
    I was recently in a marina that, as part of its rules, said NO Halyard Slapping allowed. They should slap the people who let their boats make that horrible noise.
    People who let their halyards slap never spend any time on their boats in the slip. How do I know this? Because I moved my own halyard off the mast because I couldn't stand the noise DOWN BELOW!!! This is not rocket science, but common sense gets lost of some bozos, too.

    You may have never seen this, most of us have 'cuz I post it so often! :)

    The Romantic Sound Of Clanging Halyards

    Sunday, November 28, 2004

    By Capt. Alan Hugenot

    Have you ever been woken up at night while sleeping in a marina because the neighboring sailboat’s halyards were banging against the mast in the wind?

    If you have ever tried to sleep through this constant noise, which is like someone continuously knocking on your door, then you know the dilemma which this causes for any poor sailor trying to sleep nearby.

    Of course, the skipper of the offending boat is not there to hear the incessant slap, slap, slap, and he probably wants to keep those halyards ready to hoist sail as soon as he comes aboard, totally unaware that by doing so he is creating a nerve-racking noise machine.

    So what can you do?

    You can’t sleep and you are conflicted about what action to take.

    You know that if you go aboard his boat and swing the halyards outboard around the spreader before making them fast again that the incessant slap will stop. And, you wonder why the inconsiderate skipper did not do that before he stowed his boat.

    Maybe you also know that he only comes down to the marina once a month or even less to check his boat. You know he is totally unaware that you have to listen to his halyards going slap, clang, slap, clang every night.

    On the other hand if you go aboard his boat to fix the problem, it will actually be trespassing - not quite breaking and entering - but trespassing none the less.

    When he comes back to the boat, he may even get angry at the “prankster” who tangled his halyards around the spreaders, thinking “who would do such a thing, just to confound him.” He, of course, never realizing the true reason unless you tell him.

    Yet, from a different perspective you might only be a “good Samaritan.”

    For instance, if the halyard were loose and about to carry away through the top of the mast, then that same skipper would want you to quickly go aboard his boat (even though he had not given you permission) and “properly” secure it.

    That simple act of neighborly seamanship would save him the grief of having to go aloft to re-thread the halyard through the top of the mast.

    So wouldn’t it be the same thing here?

    His halyard is clearly wearing itself out beating against the mast, and if you will just “properly” stow it for him, then it will not wear out as quickly. Also your nerves won’t wear out as quickly either.

    This is no small problem.

    I have lived aboard for several years, in both Seattle, Wash. and San Francisco, and have also spent a night or two in nearly every marina from San Diego to Seward, Alaska. In every one there are these slapping halyards.

    At first you might think that a polite word to the offending skipper would solve the problem.

    But a couple of times when I asked the owner of an offending boat if they could take a moment before going ashore to quiet their halyards by rigging them away from the masts, they became defensive.

    They acted like I was being rude for butting into their business, criticizing their seamanship.

    They arrogantly pointed out that they knew what they were doing, had studied proper halyard techniques, and had graduated from ASA or US Sailing. They were not going to quiet their halyards by rigging them outboard.

    Besides who was I to tell them anything.

    In one case the offending skipper said that “If they found their halyards any different than how they chose to leave them” then they would blame me for trespassing on their boat, and would report it to the marina manager.

    After this encounter, I could not stop the noise from his boat, and wished I had never spoken to him about it.

    I knew that if I had never brought it up, I could have quieted his halyards and he would not know who “fouled” his lines.

    Instead, I changed marinas and learned the lesson that my safest bet was to quiet all offending halyards myself, and do so without telling the owner that I was the culprit.

    This “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy allowed me to sleep, and several weeks later when the offending skipper turned up to sail his boat I was not there to hear his wrath about “Whoever fouled his halyards was going to catch hell.”

    I guess it comes down to who is more inconsiderate: Me for trespassing on his boat, or him for leaving the noisy halyard slapping against the mast.

    It is such a simple thing to just tie the halyards off on the shrouds, or swinging them around the spreaders. Maybe 60 seconds to quiet every halyard on the boat.

    Another idea is to use a shock cord to pull them over toward the shrouds and away from the mast, and there are dozens of other ways to stop the slap, slap, slap.

    Of course no way am I advocating that you climb on someone’s boat and adjust their halyards. Trespassing is something I would never encourage you to do.

    Several times in marina parking lots I have heard novice boaters saying “Wow, listen to the clanging of the all the sailboats in the wind. Isn’t it romantic.”

    So maybe it is a matter of perspective, or rather ignorance of the harm that may be caused by what may be romantic to one person and pollution to another, depending upon perspective.

    It baffles me to no end why sailing instructors don’t teach this simple courtesy to their students.

    It seems that simple courtesy should always be part of every lesson for novice sailors.

    We live pretty close together on the water, which means we need to cultivate proper manners and respect for our fellow boaters. Learning how to rig our boat so that it does not create undue noise pollution should be part of every sailing lesson.

    Actually, in California the boating laws are beginning to take notice of noise pollution.

    Beginning in the fall of 2004 agencies will begin to enforce a new law that makes it illegal to have a power boat that is too noisy.

    Maybe this idea that noise pollution on the water is a crime can be stretched to include sailboats that are too noisy. Clang, slap, clang - but it’s so romantic. Yea, right.

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
  16. williamtl


    Joined Jun 1, 2015
    137 posts, 43 likes
    Macgregor 26d
    US rocky fork
    This. +1million. Puuuullllease people, secure the halyards.

  17. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,078 posts, 549 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    i was just wondering if the highly knowledged captain alan hugenot was able to sleep while on an overnight sail. would the clang, slap, clang while underway still be considered pollution?

    while working on the ships, dead silence woke you up cause that ment something or everything was broke. the noise on a working vessel was the sweet sound of making money.

    life has it's many perspectives :)

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  18. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,078 posts, 549 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    my alden has all external halyards. never kept me up. i do tie them off when around others. i myself think the sound is romantic. it's all between the ears.

  19. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,078 posts, 549 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    in my 148 year old summer house, we have many old wind up clocks that go tick tock. 24/7 they go tick tock. drives allot of visitors crazy. they are not in the bed rooms or even near the sleeping area. many times i've been asked to stop the clocks.

    me, i sleep like a baby. but then, i have a clear conscience :)

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  20. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    5,183 posts, 361 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    I was thinking the same thing. That noise is ubiquitious in every marina I've ever been. Like the sound of seagulls, it's part of the ambience.

    Parenthetically, at many of those marinas, some boat owners were often too drunk to even notice.

    jon hansen likes this.

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