OK, I'll admit it right off- dinghy etiquette is one of my personal pet peeves and this entire page may be the ravings of a mad man. Be forewarned if you read on.
It is understandable that new cruisers may know a tremendous amount about sailing yet not be familiar with dingy etiquette. However it never ceases to amaze me that even amongst long time cruisers we still find people who simply don't have a clue about dinghy etiquette and thus are sure to anger their fellow cruisers.
Living on a sailboat definitely appeals to people who defy conformity and want to live outside the strictest bounds of society. In general if you don't like your current neighbors you simply pick up the anchor and move, and that is all well and good. But when you bring your dinghy to the dock you are sharing that dock with others and it's time to think of them too.
Herewith are some tips designed to help you get along with your fellow cruisers.
Pet peeve No. 1- Short painters.
Pet Peeve No. 2 - Cleats
Pet Peeve No. 3- Locks
Once in Tobago we returned to our dinghy to find that another boater had a chain that was too short to reach the secure chain link fence above the beach so he had locked his dinghy to ours. Of course we arrived back to the dock first and had no choice but to drag his dinghy out to our boat. Later that afternoon we noticed someone frantically waving at us from shore. We finished our beers and eventually came in to bring him his dinghy by which time all his frozen groceries had thawed. His own fault.
Pet Peeve No. 4 - Tipped up
If you leave your outboard tied to your sailboat at night, tipping the outboard up helps to keep the prop free from barnacles. BUT NEVER EVER TIP YOUR OUTBOARD UP AT A DINGHY DOCK WHERE OTHER DINGHIES WILL BE TIED UP. If you do, your upturned prop will slit the rubber tubes of any dinghy tied alongside. If that happens you deserve your fate.
In the mid nineties in Georgetown, Exuma there was one very anal boater who was worried about the barnacles that would grow on his prop in the hour he was ashore buying groceries at Exuma markets so he always tipped his outboard up. On two occasions I saw him in arguments with other boaters who asked him to lower his outboard. One boater had cuts in his hypalon dinghy tied next to the offender and showed him the slashes. Later the subject was discussed on the morning net reminding everyone to leave their outboards down. Imagine my surprise a week later when I saw the same dinghy completely slashed and sunk at the dock- the outboard was under two feet of water but I could still see it was tipped up. He got what he deserved.
Years later the same situation resulted in a near fist fight on the docks in Papette, Tahiti with a Frenchman who insisted on tipping his outboard up despite a dozen other cruisers asking him not to.
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