Ever heard No Loitering regarding boating habits? We teach that important phrase when learning about close quarters maneuvering aboard your boat. NO LOITERING.
When waiting to enter a lock or a drawbridge NO LOITERING. If the bridge is open or tall enough for you to slide under it then you can drive right through. But if the bridge schedule requires you to wait even 15 minutes before the next opening then we suggest you do not loiter. We encourage you to advise the lock or drawbridge operator that you want the next opening. Then tell him that you will cruise in the other direction away from the bridge/lock for a few minutes and then plan to return for the scheduled opening. Then DO IT. NO LOITERING.
Why not LOITER?
Loitering can put your boat in a difficult situation. Imagine you are in Florida, Georgia or South Carolina waiting on a drawbridge to open. The wind is light from your beam. The channel is narrow. The tide is low and ebbing. Maybe you check your cell phone and texts or you have a conversation with your crew while waiting for the bridge to open….and then the boat STOPS.
What happened? You were not paying attention to the task at hand- being underway. As a result, the boat drifted out of the channel and grounded. Uh-oh. Happens more than you think.
Now you have to do some quick thinking. Is the bottom sand or mud? Are you stuck or just did you just kiss the bottom? How about the propeller and rudder? How much more will the tide and water level recede? Do you try to power out of the situation or call for a tow service?
Do you have TowBoatUS or SeaTow? Read your insurance policy now before you need it. Does the average boat policy cover towing a little bit or have a maximum cap? Always be aware of your surroundings, both above the water and below.
How About This Instead?
While you wait for the bridge opening try driving in a straight line. First drive away from and then towards the drawbridge or lock. Keep track of how much time you have before the bridge or lock will open. Then divide that time by two. So if you have 20 minutes until opening time just drive away from the bridge/lock for 10 minutes and turn around driving back to it for 10 more minutes. You use the same amount of fuel when traveling in a straight line at slow speed or maneuvering by constantly shifting or using your thrusters while waiting for the opening. At your next dock-tails, ask around for others’ stories.
Join us for our next classes in Vero Beach or ask us to help you learn about maneuvering your new boat. Ask Captain Chris!