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Boating Etiquette - A Guide For the Inexperienced Boater

Updated: Apr 18

I feel the frustration, especially on long weekends when there is more traffic than usual on the water. The inexperience boat driver has turned your boat fun into a day of mayhem, putting you and your family in danger.


It's a driver that isn't paying attention and cuts in front of you while you are pulling a surfer behind your boat and you suddenly have to throttle down; rider goes down. Or, this is fun... trying to pull up to a dock to pick up passengers, but the waves from passing boats are threatening to toss your kid, cooler, phone, towels and your senior mom in the water. Here are some helpful tips to educate those that are oblivious to Boating Etiquette!

Tow Riders In a Safe and Appropriate Manner

Don't pull riders through narrow channels, close to other boats or fishing boats, float areas where many boats congregate (like Turtle Bay in Mara Lake), no wake zones or close to boat launches or docks. This also goes for driving fast and creating wakes when not pulling riders.

Specifically, pulling riders through narrow channels puts your rider at risk should they fall in a high traffic area. Your boat throws huge waves that disrupt the peace of people floating and is dangerous for swimmers in the float area, your waves scare fish away from the fisherman, puts boats on docks and buoys at risk and creates havoc at docks and boat launches for people loading and unloading.

Be an Aware Driver

Constantly look around you. Make sure your path is clear. Shoulder check before changing course. Pass on the right side, just like when driving a car, when you are passing other boats through channels and high traffic areas.

Boat drivers need to exercise extreme caution and be courteous of boats towing riders. Don't come to close to a boat towing a rider. Your wake carries for several hundred meters in each direction which causes complications for both the boat driver and the rider being towed behind the boat.

Respect the Environment and Other Boaters

Don't throw your garbage overboard. Even if it is organic. Others have to swim there and they don't want to do it in your lunch! Bring a garbage bag like other civilized humans and do your composting at home.

Help Out your Fellow Boater that is in Need

If you see someone struggling to pull their boat onto the dock; lets say... when there are a lot of waves and they need assistance holding onto the boat/dock while loading or unloading passengers. A storm is coming and a family is having trouble loading the their boat onto the trailer, get right in there and lend a hand. It could be you one day! Check it out... I took this video of a community coming together during a storm. They all came together to help someone put their boat on the trailer at the Swansea Point Boat launch a couple years back.

Keep your Music to Yourself

It is all well and fine to pump your favorite tunes while you are out for a surf, ski or wake board. Everyone wants to feel that wave while grooving to a sick beat. I personally think it enhances your performance! But other boats don't need to hear your overpowering music while floating among other boats, in high traffic areas, no wake zones, docks or marinas. Be respectful of your neighbors... seriously, they don't dig your tunes!

Safety Equipment, License & Insurance

Remember you must carry all required safety equipment, your pleasure craft license paper work and your pleasure craft operator competency card.... you are required by law to operate in a safe manner to keep those on board and other waterway users safe. Follow the collision regulations.”

I am sure that there are more pet peeves out there. Please feel free to leave a comment on other boating etiquette tips, like and share! Lets get our fellow boaters educated so we can have some peace of mind on the water.

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