Sunday, October 20, 2019

Safety on the docks

There are some boaters who only stay at Marinas. Others prefer to anchor out. The pros and cons are well known. Marina people can easily access land and all it’s amenities. Those who anchor out need some sort of dingy to get to shore. Marina boats can tie directly into grid power. Anchored boats must rely on their own systems, be they solar, wind, generator or a mix of sources.

Another big concern is safety. There are two kinds of safety I’m going to address here. One is security. How easy is it for thieves and bad people to get on your boat? The other is general boating safety. How safe is your boat from collisions, fire, and other boating hazards?

One would think that a very high end marina would be very secure. They have security guards and access to the docks generally requires a key code. My lovely wife and I stayed at a pretty high end marina while outfitting a boat. The sailboat was based in the marina when we bought it and they cut us a deal to stay there.

While they had full time security, the guard was a jack of all trades. Security was an incidental responsibility to his many other duties. There were gates with a keypad, but it would not take a lot of agility to get around them. That wasn’t really necessary though. Just follow someone going onto the docks and have them hold the gate open for you. After going past the security gate day in day out, you tend to think of it as more of an annoyance than anything else. You could just say you forgot the code and someone will probably shout it out to you.

Anchored out you are protected from casual thieves who don’t have a boat. If someone shady comes by, help is often just a shout away on the radio. However, that might be a problem in more remote anchorages. Personally, I feel pretty safe in a remote area. Most problems happen where there are a lot of people.

With your boat tied up at a dock you’d think it was safe. While we were at that fancy marina we saw a number of collisions. Often it was power boats going out of control. Alcohol is often a factor. Not only that, some people just aren’t very skillful at the helm. Real estate at a marina is expensive so boats are really packed in tight. Current and wind can really mess up docking maneuvers.

Anchored out, your main concern is the quality of your anchoring system and the bottom conditions. Even if you are secure, it’s common for other people to drag anchor and collide with other boats. During a storm it’s necessary to be concerned with everything going on around you.

So there are pros and cons to both staying at a dock and anchoring out. One of the big factors for me is that anchoring is free. Often that’s what tips the balance. It’s safer for my wallet.



  1. I am not much of party person, so would prefer to anchor out away from the party.

  2. I'm with Dizzy on this one. It has to be a lot quieter, right?