Latest News

Boating Etiquette at Anchorages

Boating Etiquette at Anchorages

The Gold Coast has some lovely anchorages and many people make excellent use of them all year round. However, finding a suitable spot to anchor may be difficult and can be the start of our troubles! Noise, dragging boats, unexpected wind shifts or unfriendly neighbours can turn a lovely weekend into something stressful and disagreeable. Sometimes the problem is simply that we are not all playing by the same ‘rules’. So what would be some simple common-sense principles that we could all abide by? Here are four basic principles to remember to be a kind and considerate boater around anchored vessels.



Ah, the gentle rocking of a boat – it is what so many of us love. But when someone whizzes past too close and too fast, sometimes it sends things flying. Isn’t that the last thing you want when at anchor? The simple rule of thumb is to keep to the prescribed and legal 30 metres away from anchored or moored vessels, and to never exceed the six-knot speed limit. Of course, the local rules actually say that you must keep wash to a minimum, which might mean going even slower. The goal is to travel at a safe speed around boats and people. It is also good to remember to pass anchored vessels at their STERN to avoid accidentally snagging an already set anchor.



How lovely it is, when at anchor, to wake to the sound of the waves gently kissing the shore, or to the almost joyful squawking of sea gulls, hungry for their breakfast. But not so pleasant is the sound of a jet ski roaring past your porthole or someone yelling loudly to the person in the dinghy next to them while alongside your vessel – and late at night, when it is pretty quiet elsewhere. It can be quite jarring to have a peaceful conversation interrupted by someone yelling way up in the anchorage.

The thing is, sound carries much further over the water than on the land. A good principle of anchoring is to be mindful of that and be considerate towards those around you. This relates to late-evening parties, music, incessantly barking dogs, and the use of gensets/engines either late at night or early in the morning. I am pretty sure we all forget at times – I know I have – sorry neighbours! But when people have come away for a lovely quiet weekend at anchor, it is nice to think about their needs.



Coming into anchor at night can be a real challenge, but shining bright lights into other boats can also be very unpleasant for those already anchored. So if you find yourself needing to arrive or move after dark think about how you are using your torch or spotlight, and consider those around you.




This is a biggie, isn’t it? Boats anchoring too close or not taking other vessels swing room into account, and ending up closer than they had expected when there is a change in the wind.

You hear many disputes about this when out on the water. The simplest and nicest way to deal with someone who has come closer than feels reasonable is simply to ask, ‘How much chain do you have out?’ This allows for a non-threatening start to a conversation. As a general rule, it is the last boat to anchor that needs to move.

Sometimes two boats anchored close to each other simply have differing amounts of chain or rode, and consequently will be behaving differently in the water. Add to that, a lack of awareness about how much chain/rode a keel boat will need compared to a motor boat causes problems. Resolution will come much faster if respect and consideration are shown. It is fair to say that people who spend a lot of time at anchor will have good skills and knowledge, and are generally happy to share that knowledge.

Do what YOU need to do to feel safe, and do it because you choose to for your own wellbeing. And do it with a smile… After all, the waterways are a shared community space.


By Sue Parry-Jones



Photo: Robin of