How to Avoid “Dock Sins”

By World Wide Marine Training

We’ve talked about “passing” etiquette before. That is, not waking the @#$%& out of the boat that you are passing. You have all observed some of our fellow mariners during lapses in courtesy while passing. But, what about dockside etiquette?

More to the point, let’s talk about “the seven deadly sins” of dockside etiquette.

TWO PARKING SPACES. This is the most obvious infraction. Don’t put your 35′ boat in the center of a 70′ dock. That leaves two small spaces forward and astern of you that are too small for other boats to fit into. Instead, move your boat to one end or the other so one of your fellow mariners will have room to tie up.

AVAILABLE DEPTH.  If you are in a runabout or a shoal draft sailboat, take the space over the shallow water. Many public docks protrude from a bulkhead. It is generally shallower near the bulkhead. Put your shallow draft boat at that end, leaving the deeper area for a deep draft vessel.

SHORE POWER. Try to make your shore power connection on your side of the dock. If you have to cross the dock (sometimes you have no choice), do that in a lighted area. This way the “tripping hazard” will be obvious to others after dark. If possible, lay your shore power cord between the boards in the decking.

WATER CONNECTION.  Make sure your water connection is tight. Don’t have water running all over the dock. You can start by keeping a good rubber washer in your hose end. A wet dock just creates another hazard for your dock mates after dark.

NOISE POLLUTION.  Don’t forget to turn your outside speakers off. Not everyone appreciates your choice in music, especially at midnight. Also, turn your VHF radio off. While you might not hear it inside in the air conditioning, your neighbors have to listen to it all night.

DIPPING THE EYE.  Don’t tie your boat up over top of someone else’s mooring lines. If they have used the “eye” end of their lines and depart ahead of you, they will have to untie your lines to get their lines free. “Dipping the Eye” involves passing the eye end of your line up through the eye of another dock line before putting it over the piling. By doing so, the other boater is free to leave without disturbing your lines.

GEAR ADRIFT. Those of you that served in the U.S. Navy know this term. “Gear adrift” is anything that is not put back in its proper place. The dock is not your garage or back yard where you can leave a lot of clutter until tomorrow. Your fellow boaters don’t appreciate tripping over your gear adrift.

How many of the seven deadly sins are you guilty of?

Until next time, we wish you clear skies, fair winds and calm seas!


World Wide Marine Training, LLC, is a U.S. Coast Guard Approved facility authorized to give examinations for captain’s licenses up to Master 200 Tons, Able Seaman up to Unlimited, STCW Basic Training, Radar, ARPA and other Endorsements. Please visit or call toll-free 866-249-2135.