Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Is Wrong With This Picture? (Dinghy Etiquette)

Annapolis is really welcoming to cruisers; there is dinghy access at the end of every public street that ends at the water.  It is legal to tie up your dinghy there, and leave it while you go ashore. Some of these public access points have floating docks, but at minimum there are ladders.  There are courtesies that have evolved among boaters, ways to cooperate so that everyone can share this resource.  Here's the end of one street in Eastport, plenty of room for dinghies and a couple of ladders to come up to street level.

One courtesy that boaters observe at a dock like this is that after they come ashore, they move their dinghy out of the way so others can get to the ladder; the dinghy on the right in the photo above did this.  Otherwise, they tie their dinghy on long painter (the line that goes from the bow of the boat to a cleat on shore).  This keeps your dinghy secure, but allows a latecomer to move your dinghy out of the way to access the ladder or dock so they can also come ashore.  Here's a bit of a closer view of the less-courteous boat on another day, looking back from the land side, do you see what's wrong now?

It's going to be tough for anyone else to get to the ladder, since this person has chained their dinghy so close as to take up all the available room.  

There's another dinghy-dock courtesy that says that wherever tides and water depths allow, you don't leave your outboard halfway up with the prop out of the water.  The theory here is that you could bounce on a wake or a wave, and your prop could come down and cut someone else's rubber tubes.  But that's not the problem in this case, the dinghy in question doesn't have an outboard, apparently they row.  Here's an even closer shot of the problem, do you see it now?

 I get that this person is concerned about security and dinghy theft.  At the same time, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  Great heavy chain here, two locks, secured at one end to the ladder mounted in concrete, and at the other end to ... ???


  1. That looks like my neighbor Ed's dinghy. I will give him a word to the wise the next time I see him. Also, thanks for the comment about leaving the outboard down. I didn't realize that I should leave it down at the dock, and I will leave mine down from now on.

  2. Darn, and I really thought I was keeping any obviously-identifying details (like the dinghy name) out of the photos. Be advised that this is a location where you can bottom out at low tide, so keeping your outboard prop down could be problematic. An alternative is to tie the dinghy so it stays in the same place and can't bump into/cut the neighboring tubes. But if that is your friend's dinghy, um, the chain looks heavy, but someone with a pocket knife could cut the rope handle that the chain is linked around, if they really wanted to steal the dink.

    PS - Hope you're enjoying life at anchor!

  3. Ed took it very well, and appreciated the good word. If the location wasn't a mere 200 yards from me, I would not have known. Plus, I dock my dink at the next dock which is by Davis' Pub.

  4. Hi there,
    Well this was very informative and I appreciate you sharing the dinghy news, because, being new at this, we could've easily done it incorrectly. Is this "courtesy" world wide?

  5. Hi PaulnDiane - it's been customary every place we've been, though we haven't sailed worldwide. (Yet!!!) If, for whatever reason, you end up being the short-tied dinghy, expect that other people will step through your dinghy to get to theirs. Also, we *always* double-tie our dinghy: wrap the painter around a cleat at an appropriate length, then knot the end of the painter around something else, so even if the cleat comes undone the bitter end is holding us on. Sounds a bit anal, but then, losing a dinghy is not fun!

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