Weird Things About Boating Culture

There’s a joke in boating circles that it’s not really a boat but rather a hole in the ocean into which you throw money. But actually it’s not a joke maybe we’ll get into that in another post all the hidden costs of owning a boat and there are a lot but… that’s not what we’re here about today. There are some weird, weird things that happen in boating circles and it might not be the dream it’s cracked up to be. Then again there are other weird aspects to the culture that you might not suspect. Whether it’s you’re dream, you’re going out on a fancy boat or your dating a boat person here are some things you might want to know about. If you want to avoid a lot of the costs, worry and crappy stuff get a boat and store it on a trailer!


boating culture
This is actually my RC sailboat the Honey Fritz


High tide, low tide and mid tide are legit times

Let’s start with what is a tide because unless you spend some time on the ocean you might not know. Every day there are two high tides and two low tides in the worlds oceans, it has to do with the gravitational pull of the moon on the water but we don’t need to get into that. Basically that means that the water level rises and falls through out the day, changing the shoreline and making hazards like rocks more and less dangerous. Certain boats can’t even go certain places at low tide. In boating circles people are or at least should be (read on) aware of this. As such you might say to people, “I stopped by you’re place at low tide but you weren’t home.” Or “We’ll head out at mid-tide and have a picnic on the island.”

You probably need to own a second boat to get to your first boat

Boats can be at two places at you’re house or I guess wherever else. One is on the dock (or float) which is the part that touches the water at the end of your ramp at the end of your wharf. You can keep it there as long as there is no bad weather and you have enough water at low tide off your float. If you don’t or the forecast is calling for bad weather you have to put your boat on the mooring which is a floaty ball attached to a chain attached to a wight at the bottom, usually concrete further away in the ocean. Since you have to move your boat back and forth you’ll actually need to have a second boat to go back and forth to your first boat. It can be fancy like a Boston Whaler or simple. One of our customers with a legit yacht uses a paddleboat from Costco to get back and forth.

Some people call boats yachts others call yachts boats

A yacht is a pleasure boat over 33 or 39 feet depending on who you ask or over 80 ft because at that point you have to hire crew. The thing is while a 33 foot boat is pretty big chances are you’re not going to look at it and automatically call it a yacht, you’re more apt to call it a big boat. I’m going to try to find a picture of honey’s old 40 ft work Cape. It had four bilge pumps that pretty much ran continuously, it sunk twice and even though it met both minimum definitions it was decidedly not a yacht. Now there are two types of big boat owners, those that call their boats yachts and people who legit own a yacht and call it a boat anyway. I would suggest you look for the latter and avoid the former unless you like to hangout with douche bags in your spare time. Thankfully they are pretty rare in the community.

I found it! It’s a picture of a picture of the second time it sunk. I got on it after that too. It might be 40′ but it’s no yacht!

People who don’t clean their own house, office, car or fingernails spend hours cleaning their boats

Boats need constant maintenance and cleaning and while you can hire someone to do it generally working on a boat is considered a specialty so it’s expensive. Also there is a lot of liability involved so most owners do all of the cleaning themselves pretty much no matter how rich or how big their boat is. Most of these people pay $100 to get their house cleaned, $150 to get their car detailed, would never have to clean their own office and might even get man manicures but they spend hours every weekend rubbing scuff marks, scrapping barnacles in their shorts and pumping out the head (that’s boat speak for bathroom). So owning a boat can be very humbling!

You might not be able to wear your shoes

Most boats are very, very white and gel coated. Most shoes have black soles and heels damage the gel coat. No matter how big, small, simple or fancy a boat is don’t assume you can wear your shoes on it. If you’re going to be hanging around boat people a lot get yourself a pair of boat shoes with light coloured, very flat, non-marking soles one great and therefore popular brand is topsiders if you want to fit in.

Sailors and motorboat people are different and they don’t really mix

Rich or poor, fancy or not, big or small sailboat owners are different people and they don’t really mix. It’s not to say they don’t get along but … Most communities will have a yacht club and a sailing club but anything goes at a marina. Generally sailors are tougher, more knowledgeable saltier folk. Even if a sailor doesn’t have time to undertake longer journeys on their boat they generally want too and know how to do it. On one of those journeys they might have to lower the mast while underway, beach the boat at low tide to fix it, or take the night watch plus pirates they know about pirates too. Motorboat people while often they’re in it for the prestige a bit more. They might not go beyond their home bay ever or want to and they’re way more likely to call the coast guard if they do. Sorry guys but it’s true. Oh and sailors can only drive Boston Whalers if they drive a motorboat at all. Not really but… It kinda seems that way!

Took this at a customer’s wharf where we’re parking out boat this week. Like I said it’s not a rule but…

Owning a boat is the dream once you arrive but some people shouldn’t

I’m going to change some details here but this all happened, I swear. In fact most of these stories come from only two people. Owning a boat to park at your ocean front home is the dream right? I say ocean front because lake fronts don’t quite have the same level of work or danger. One customer was all excited to get their brand new boat in the water since they just completed the boat operators licence and bought the ocean front home, the first question she asked was “where does the water go everyday.” She had no idea what the tide was! Another wanted to be called when it was time to put his motorboat on the mooring they didn’t and their $500 000 boat broke their float, ramps (which had two stability moorings attached) and chains loose during a post tropical storm and started drifting out to sea and slowly sinking as the two 1000 lb moorings on the float dragged it down . We had to go out and tow the whole rig back in and free it during the hurricane.

Another didn’t secure his anchor in it’s pod during a hurricane on the mooring. It swung against two lead lines and eventually cut them and the boat ended up on shore. Another time someone attached 2 boats worth over $700 000 to the SAME mooring and as they spun and started to drag the bows of both down into the ocean. Honey had to dive them to free them but he also got a case of his favourite drink as a thank you, from both of them! Another calls the coast guard pretty much every time they leave the bay. One couldn’t understand that you had to run the boat motor all the time to keep the battery charged so it starts when you want to drive it and on and on and on. Ps these aren’t all about motor boats and one guy is now a super skilled boater now the rest not so much.

A decent amount of boats are just floating bars that don’t really move

I’m not going to expand on this but a lot of boats, both sailboats but especially motor boats never leave the dock or rarely do. Instead their owners walk down nightly or every second night let the engine idle and get well and thoroughly ripped on their boats. Sometimes they have friends over and all drink on the dock together perhaps after a 10 minute cruise. In some cases it’s laziness, busyness or just the cost of gas.

It’s a bit like being a parent… of a kid that’s sexually attracted to fire

The idea of having a boat its all freedom and the open ocean, having arrived and been able to go anywhere at a moments notice. The reality of it is that when the boat is in the water you can’t really travel and you’re constantly worried about it. You have to check the weather constantly, keep checking the weather, move it back and forth to the mooring, clean it, drain it, put any covers back on, check systems, charge batteries, check pumps and generally protect your investment. Plus sometimes a wind kicks up thats not forecasted and all of a sudden you’re busy with the boat, plus sheer panic. Boats are a bit like teenagers they have away of getting themselves into trouble the very moment you turn your head! The reality is way more worry then open ocean. Plus it’s virtually impossible to get a comprehensive boat and forget about wharf policy anymore even if you can afford it!

Well that sucks! This is what you worry about when you own a boat!


You can in fact own a boat you’re not allowed to drive and people do

This isn’t going to apply to a whole lot of folks out there but it does happen. If a boat is bigger than 70 (or 90) feet or weighs more than 200 tons it requires a licensed captain to drive it. That can take up to four years of full time schooling. There are three on our bay and they LITERALLY never leave the dock. The captain drives them in in July and out in September, that’s it.

Finder’s keepers, losers weepers is the LAW!

You know how old laws can stay on the books and end up really weird while the logistics of changing maritime law means there are a few odd ones out there. Perhaps the most unsettling is the fact that essentially finders keepers, losers weepers is the law when it comes to boats. Specifically its marine salvage law, while other boaters are obligated to prevent loss of life they are under no obligation to act to save a vessel. If they do so they are entitled to a reward. This carries from a minimum of 10% of the value of the vessel and cargo to 25% for things like towing and securing a loose vessel. But claims can be made for 100% of the value, and that’s the pre-damaged value. In cases where the rescuer endangers their life, the vessel was a navigational or environmental hazard or the owner was not attempting a rescue generally the ship is awarded to the rescuer in a maritime court. By the way even if someone else tows your vessel that counts for at least 10%! Nice huh? Thats why one time we tied a beached yacht to a pine tree in a hurricane! The time honey was rescuing the two tangled boats on the same mooring a $750 000 – 50 foot sailboat drifted by on it’s way out of the bay and presumably to England and he chased it down with a 16 foot Carolina Skiff and returned it to it’s busted mooring which he fixed with stuff on the boat. He was sort of expecting a case of something aged but the lawyer didn’t even manage a real thank you. I bet he calls it a Yacht!

I should put it out there that most of the we’s in this storey actually mean honey did that, sometimes I was there, usually on land. But the one time I was sure this was it for me (honey actually, at least I could have swam to shore) it was looking at wharf damage at the tail end of a hurricane in that previously sunken workboat. Since it was such a sketchy ride we towed the second boat with us. Life tip: Never go with someone who is generally fearless if THEY decide it’s the kinda day to bring a spare boat. Also never go for a ride in someone’s spare plane but I digress. If you do decide the boating life is for you the very next thing you should do is find someone like Richard, just in case!

Now we have a 14 foot, hard bottomed inflatable with a centre console for a work boat and you know what? It goes on a trailer in the yard when we don’t need it! Also we’re in the enviable position to have a choice of wharfs to park it at since we built all of them. We can decide just what hurricane hole is best for a north vs south wind and most people don’t have that luxury. What weird things have you noticed about boaters in your travels?

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