Tips for Safely Managing Dock Lines

Tips for Safely Managing Dock Lines

Managing a marina entails considerable risks, some of which can cause significant damage or losses. In some cases, they may even endanger people’s lives. Hopefully, your marina clients have the appropriate marina insurance to protect them against the common risk exposures inherent in the business. This type of insurance covers them for potential legal liabilities arising from damage and personal injury claims.

But even with marina insurance, your clients need to implement safe practices and policies that help ensure the safety of everyone working and using the facilities. In particular, it is vital to know how to prevent collisions and other accidents in a marina when there are other boats and people around.

The situation can be especially risky when there is a major boating event taking place. Regattas and parades often attract scores of people, which always increases the risk of accidents and collisions. Add alcohol to the mix, and such events are the perfect setting for a major disaster.

Let’s face it. In any festive event, there are always people jostling for the best positions to get a good view of the proceedings. Ask any of your clients that have hosted such events before and they will likely have many stories to tell about boaters and even swimmers wanting to get up close to see race or parade participants.

Unfortunately, this is when accidents are most likely to happen. Viewers overcome by the event’s festive atmosphere often venture dangerously close to the boat lanes, putting themselves or others at risk. More than just endangering boats and marina property, these careless actions can cause serious injury and even result in the loss of lives.

Safety practices during marina boating events

Your clients may want to implement the following policies for all guests and visitors. They should also consider posting these guidelines in a prominent spot on the marina and, if possible, cover them in detail during visitor orientation.

Maintain distance from racing and parade boats. Non-participating vessels should always maintain a distance of at least 100 feet away from the closest lane. Exceptions only apply to support or rescue ships.

Even then, support and rescue personnel should maintain a reasonably safe distance from the course. They should be close enough to provide assistance quickly if someone falls overboard, but not too close that they put themselves or the participants at risk.

Wake-jumping should be discouraged. Your clients should implement a “no wake-jumping” policy in general, but particularly during racing events or parades. These activities can be especially risky, as wake jumpers often come dangerously close to large vessels.

Avoid going too close to swim zones. Boaters should avoid getting too close to swim zones. Most authorities advise maintaining a distance of 100 to 200 feet away from the closest point of the nearest swim zone, but staying further away is always better.

Exercise caution around ski zones. Having boats on ski zones can’t be avoided, of course. But boaters should be extra cautious in these areas and be on a constant lookout for fallen skiers. In the frenzy of a large or busy event, it’s easy to miss downed skiers in the water.

Stay below the legal speed limit. Novice boaters may be unaware, but there are speed limits for water vessels in most jurisdictions. In California, for example, motorboats running within a hundred feet of a swimmer and 200 feet of a swimming beach should maintain a top speed of 5 miles per hour. This applies to boats near swimming floats, diving platforms, and lifelines as well. Your client should inform marina users of the legal speed limit in their locality.

Avoid weaving between boats. Boaters should avoid weaving between other vessels unless it is absolutely necessary. This goes along with maintaining the proper distance and showing common courtesy to other marina users.


As the weather becomes warmer and winter fades into memory, more and more people will want to take out their boats for a spin. Your clients will probably experience a gradual increase in the number of boaters using their facilities, which is always a good thing.

But along with the increased activity comes more risks of damage and injury. To avoid any untoward incident and potential liability, make sure your clients keep the above tips in mind during the upcoming boating season.

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.