3 Tips for Better Boating Etiquette

Cody Ryan Greaney with a tournament catch
This article was written by Cody Ryan Greaney, host of the Outdoor Radio Show. Cody is also a pro bass angler & fishing guide.

Boating etiquette is a subject I have seen brought up from time to time. Still, I often witness things that DRIVE ME BONKERS! Whether it’s on the boat ramp launching or out on the water, certain things are frowned upon. But some, especially newer boaters,  may not realize some actions are even issues. Here’s a peek into some common occurrences I see as someone who spends a LOT of time on the water.

Boating Etiquette Tip #1— Boat Ramp Launching and Loading

Launching and loading a boat can be a nightmare for those who use the waterways a lot. This is especially true at certain times of the year. When there are sure to be many people at a lake, like a long holiday weekend or a lovely summer Saturday afternoon, I will avoid being on the water.

But even when lakes are not crowded, I see some of the same lack of etiquette year-round. Examples include parking, rigging, or loading stuff into the boat in the wrong place. The places NOT appropriate for these activities are any areas that will prevent the flow of others using the facilities.

If you are in line to load or unload your boat and others are waiting to do the same, make sure they can get around if you are not fully prepared to launch or load your boat.

Backing halfway down a boat ramp is not the place to put your vehicle in “park,” get out and load your tubes, coolers, bags, and friends into the boat. If you are on the boat ramp, those tasks should already be done.

If you are not ready to launch, park away from the ramp and complete your preparations in an area that gives access to others ready to use the ramp.

Boating Etiquette Tip #2—Waking-producing Activities

The next item I don’t hear talked about are places that are “OK” to do your cruising, tubing, skiing, or other wake-producing activities. Lawfully, many areas I am talking about are likely fine, but solid boating etiquette extends beyond mere legalities.

Just because you can legally do “donuts,” pulling tubers in a calm cove, or pulling a skier through a narrow portion of the lake, doesn’t make it “OK.” Yes, more wide-open portions of the lake are often subject to wind and wake. However, more secluded areas are not necessarily safe for these activities.

I think about the “what ifs.” What if a tuber falls off and another boat is coming? Do I have time to turn around and retrieve them safely? What if a grandfather and his grandson are canoeing at the back of a protected cove, and the wake produced causes their canoe to tip over?

Simply understanding what could happen is the best approach for avoiding certain activities in areas where it may be perfectly legal but not necessarily safe or courteous.

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Boating Etiquette Tip #3— Navigating a Lake

Cruising the wrong side of the lake is another annoyance. Why? As most boating courses teach, many of the same principles we use when driving vehicles on the road can be applied to boating.

But, there is rarely a trip to the lake where a boat isn’t coming “head-on,” and I must decelerate and/or turn sharply to avoid them. This issue is more situational than the previous boating etiquette issues I mentioned.

For example, if a person is on the lake on a Tuesday morning and there are very few boats, I am not nearly as concerned if a person is cruising the opposite side of the lake.

But, any time there are numerous boats on the water, we should treat it as if we are driving on the road. Traffic flows should follow those methods. This should apply even if that means you are not taking the most direct route to your destination.

You could call these “pet peeves” of mine, but I truly believe they all have an element of safety and most definitely common courtesy for others. Some of you reading my tips might think I’m just a nagging, complaining old fart, and you’d be mostly right.

Regardless, we all would have a little more fun on the water if we gave more thought to others. I need to continually work on my boating etiquette as well,

About the Author

This article was written by Cody Ryan Greaney, a Texas State University graduate. In college, he was the live personality for a local radio station giving local news and weather reports daily. After graduation, Cody Ryan went to fulfilling his passion by hitting the bass fishing circuits and guiding hunts. With knowledge in the marketing industry and a passion for the professional angling world, Cody Ryan has promoted sponsors through fishing tournaments, outreach programs, and large events.

Cody Ryan currently hosts the #1 Outdoor Radio Show in Texas with his father, TJ. When he is not on air, Cody Ryan is chasing bass in various tournaments across the lower US. Cody Ryan is one of two organizers of the Dell Children’s Medical Center Fishing Event, named the leading event the hospital has put on for young patients. In conjunction with the multiple youth events he participates in, Cody Ryan was awarded the Pass It on Award in 2013.

Cody Ryan has been guiding bass fishing trips and hunting trips across the state for more than 12 years. His passion for the outdoors is evident. He’s not afraid to thank the Lord each day for allowing him to live the life he leads.

Cody is married to the love of his life, Nicole, and together have a daughter, Saylor.

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