in with your fellow boater on the VHF
(or even waving hello to each other)
doesn’t hurt, either.
The plot thickens even more once
we realize that what’s considered polite
by one group of boaters directly contradicts the preferred behavior of another.
Fishermen think the polite way to cross
another boat’s course is to steer across
the bow. Why? Because there might
be fishing lines hanging off the stern.
Sailors underway think other boats
should know to cross their stern, if at
all possible. Why? Because even a small
wake in a sailboat’s path will send it
wildly bobbing or stop it altogether.
Is it any wonder there are so many
rude hand gestures between these two
groups? The only answer is to accept our
EVEN A SMALL WAKE IN
A SAILBOAT’S PATH WILL
SEND IT WILDLY BOBBING
OR STOP IT ALTOGETHER
boats as extensions
of ourselves and
then consider the
As soon as we do
that, it becomes obvious that “too close”
has a different meaning for each operator.
So how do we learn to share the
water amicably? Two ways. First, communicate. Use your VHF, hand signals,
or anything else available to tell the
other skipper what you’re planning to
do, and give him or her the opportunity to suggest a different approach. And
second, whenever you have a chance to
get out on another type of boat, take
it. Appreciating other perspectives is
much easier once you’re standing in a
As a young kid learning to sail, I’m
sure I occasionally came into contact
with other types of boats, and harbors
were much less crowded in those days.
Mess about with boats long enough, and
we inevitably end up on the receiving end
of everything we once did to someone
else. That’s why it’s important to under-
stand that our own sense of personal
boating space may not always be in sync
with everyone else who is trying to enjoy
the same body of water. We’ll all make
the most progress if we learn from our
differences. Oh, and let’s all apologize
when it’s appropriate.
Carol Newman Cronin is an author, editor,
and Olympian who specializes in stories
about boats – both fact and fiction.
is key to amicably
sharing the water
with other boaters.
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