Generosity is contagious. This is a saying that sometimes loses its meaning on everyday encounter with different people but somehow finds its essence on waters. If you have done some hours boating out in the sea, you know what I mean. If you are new to boating, you will be surprised how boaters treat other boaters as compared to drivers on freeway or even around your neighborhood.
Boaters are more polite, giving, courteous and even helpful to other boaters. Proper etiquette is always practiced. And even if many boaters did not take any boating safety course, they are aware of the things to do and the ways to act on every situation.
Common sense – the unwritten rule on boating and a must have if you want to survive on waters. Should there be a question of right-of-way, common sense will always tell you to give it to the other guy regardless of who is privileged and who is burdened. In boating, everyone seems to know this and for some good reasons, everyone seems to consciously employ common sense and give way to others.
I can relate this to a story I have heard not so long ago. Two guys were casually boating holding their way at 4 miles per hour. A large cruiser was coming behind them. Logically, the large cruiser, since it was the burdened, had to yield while the casual boaters can hold their line because they were privileged. However, common sense prevailed to the privileged ones, realizing that they can get into trouble and yielded for the large boat.
This is not an isolated incident. Most boaters are more inclined on using their common sense than enforcing the principle of who is the privileged and who is the burdened. And this is something you always want to bring when going out on the waters. This is not the rule but it is always advisable to give way and let the other guys pass, regardless of who has the right-of-way.
Every time I set to the waters, I always observe this type of behavior is a collective manner. Everyone seems to give way to others – not because they know the rules but more because they tend to treat boaters as neighbors on the same water. Moreover, there is always that help-your neighbor policy that rules everyone. Actually, this is a legal rule but boaters who are unaware that this is a rule tend to apply it every time or at least when they are on the waters.
This makes sense because if you require assistance, you need someone to stop and render you some help. But boaters do this not because they treat others as a means (helping others just because they expect others to help them) but as an ends (simply helping because it is the right thing to do).
To be honest, seeing boaters helping another boater to tow his boat to the shore or fix a boat, sometimes for several hours, can drive me crazy in a good way. If I anchored several hundred yards away from the main pack, it will only be just a matter of time when someone will approach me to ask if everything is okay or yell from the distance “Out of gas?” or “Need some help?”
General rules are good but they are more useful when legal disputes are needed. On waters, always play defensive to avoid collisions, create harmony with other boaters, and always be ready to give others help.