Whether you own your boat or you are renting one, everybody enjoys a day out on the lake. Driving a boat is a lot of fun but is also something that should be done carefully. Just like the rules of the road, there are rules for the lake. Understanding boating etiquette, along with boating safety tips, will guarantee a great day out on Lake Gaston. So, before you take out your rental pontoon boat or take the kids out tubing, review some boat etiquette guidelines. This will help you better understand how to interact with any other watercraft.
Boating Etiquette Tips
Know Your Directions
Familiarize yourself with directions. So, if marina personnel tell you to dock on with the port side facing the dock, you should know what this means easily.
Port side is the left-hand side of the boat.
Starboard is on the right side of the boat.
The stern is behind the boat.
Mind Your Wake
Respect “No Wake” zones. This is a very important safety issue. Creating a wake through an area with a marina or docks can cause extensive and costly damage that you can be held responsible for. Whenever you enter a zone marked with “No Wake” buoys, operate the boat at idle speed and be sure to pay attention to the wake you are generating. Don’t be afraid to slow down even further but make sure you still have control of the watercraft. Boaters who violate “No Wake” zones can face penalties. Be aware that all bridge on Lake Gaston are “No Wake” zones.
One of the biggest pieces of boat etiquette and even lake etiquette is to clean up after yourself. Return your rental boat free of any trash or excessive messes. If you plan to stop somewhere on the lake, make sure to remove anything left behind. It should be as if you were never there. When operating the boat, make sure items and trash are secure to prevent them from ending up in the lake. Everyone is responsible for keeping Lake Gaston clean.
Make sure other boaters know where you are going. Show a clear direction and do not make any sudden course adjustments or turns. Erratic driving can confuse other boaters and increases the chance of a collision. Stay at least 100 feet away from any other boats while in motion.
If you are approaching another boat head-on, the standard rule is for both vessels to turn starboard and pass port side to port side.
Prepare yourself for the day. Not only do you want to have items to enjoy the day, like cold sodas, food, and snacks; but you also need to prepare for safety. Make sure you have everything you need to stay safe while boating on Lake Gaston.
Fuel Dock Tips
When at the fuel dock, get in and get out. Don’t spend time at the fuel dock doing anything other than fueling. Make sure you have your payment method ready to go when arriving. Pull to another dock nearby if you need to get anything at the marina or take care of anything else. Don’t spend time at the fuel dock cleaning out your boat or waiting for your party to return.
Boat Ramp Etiquette
Boat ramps can get congested with many people needing to use them. Make sure to respect any lines forming to use the ramp. Also, be familiar with how to use a boat ramp so you don’t take too long. Don’t linger in the ramp by cleaning your boat there. Clean your boat out either before or after removing it from the lake to limit the time spent on the ramp.
If you see a boat in distress, whether it be a signal flare, airhorn, or another form of distress signals; offer assistance. Boating on the lake does have the potential to create a dangerous situation so all boaters should look out for each other in some manner. Preparing to keep yourself safe can also be crucial if you need to lend assistance to another boat.
When out on Lake Gaston, VHF radio channel 16 is to be used for emergency communications only. Do not use this frequency for anything else. If you need to contact another boat on the radio, ask them to switch to a separate channel. Boat radios are mostly intended so crucial communications between boats for safe operation. Take a few moments to review Lake Gaston Emergency Radio Procedures.
By now, you should be familiar with the basic boating etiquette. Remember to keep these in mind when you are out on Lake Gaston so that you and other boaters can enjoy the day. Along with our boating safety tips and marina services, Eaton Ferry Marina has everything you need to enjoy Lake Gaston. Contact or visit us today for more information! Eaton Ferry Marina also offers online boat rental reservations. Plan your summer lake outing today!