Vol. 9, No. 23
June 7-13, 2001
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Manners on Board:
Why Your Bay Rule Needs to Be Golden

Returning to port on Sunday, the narrow passage turned suddenly to gridlock when a sailboat inexplicably decided to anchor about three feet outside the channel.

When the wind blew the boat's stern into the narrow passage, jaws dropped and curses erupted. We were forced into evasive action in shallow water after noticing a charterboat coming fast on our rear and clearly unwilling to abide any nonsense after a day of hard work on the water.

We relate this experience not to take jabs at our sailing friends. (Well, maybe just a slight jab considering the pokes that Scott Dine takes at powerboaters in "From There to Here," his wonderful tale elsewhere in this issue about relocating on the Bay after years of sailing in landlocked Southern Illinois.)

Our intention is not to fire another shot in the time-honored war between blowboaters and stinkpotters. Rather, as many of us take to the water in earnest once more, we think it's time to pause for a moment on the topic of courtesy on the Chesapeake Bay.

Least we forget, in large measure our purpose for heading out on the water is escaping what harasses us on land.

When we cast off those lines, we say adios to the congestion and the stop-and-go tension we feel around people hustling to get somewhere, too often with cell phones affixed to their heads.

Out on the Bay, we have space all around us and room to breathe. The air is fresh and there's always a breeze, even on the steamiest summer day. Hemmed in only by the horizon, freedom is ours.

From the books we've read, we can tell you that the Chesapeake Bay has been here for a long time. It's not going anywhere soon, so we wonder why, once people are underway, they need to charge out of the channel.

We get more confused when pondering why boaters get in such a hellfire hurry to return to civilization after a restoring day on the Bay.

There's not much to say about judgment lapses like anchoring along a channel except to remind people that, as the freshly wreathed cross on the nearby jetty suggests, water is a dangerous element. But we do think that all of us, powerboaters and sailors alike, might better enjoy our outings if we acted with more consideration.

For powerboaters, that means slowing down in channels and keeping a distance from sailing vessels, especially when the crew is handling sails and is vulnerable to waves. For sailboaters, that means speeding up on occasion so as not to clog channels and breed gridlock.

There's pure joy in boating on the Chesapeake Bay, and being kind to one another can help each of us find it.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly