5 rules of responsible dinghy driving

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Sailor's Stuff, Life Aboard

The dinghy is a sweetheart. It’s your ticket to adventure, it’s a family car, it’s a taxi, it’s an ambulance. And it deserves the care and attention you’d give to any of these vehicles if you were driving one.

5 rules of responsible dinghy driving

1 Always wear the kill switch

The kill switch is the most important safety precaution for the dinghy. Also known as the key for the outboard, the kill switch makes the engine stop immediately if the driver falls off. This way, the dinghy doesn’t escape and no one gets hurt by the spinning propeller. So simple and effective. But only if the driver is wearing the lanyard! The lanyard is designed to be worn on the wrist but if you find it somewhat uncomfortable, you can always wear it on your belt or ankle. No matter where you attach it, it’s going to function as the life saver that it is.

2 Stay down

Whether you’re driving or just waiting to be delivered to the shore, standing up in a dinghy is never a good idea. It’s hard to keep balance while in motion and the best thing to do in most situations is sit down and wait until the engine stops. Staying down is also good etiquette when you go visit other boats. If you stand up and look around before you call hello and wait to be seen, you might be invading privacy.

3 Tie responsibly

We all know the scary stories on escaping dinghies if we haven’t actually witnessed one. And we all know what went wrong. A dinghy not properly tied can ruin a boat vacation, if not more. The rule of tying responsibly covers other dinghies as well. For example, when you’re in a busy dinghy dock and you need to move or untie other lines as you try to leave, always make sure that you tie them back safely.

4 Mind your dock manners

In the Mediterranean, some dinghy docks can be busy. The cleats may be all occupied and even getting close enough can be difficult. When this is the case, the driver can drop off everyone further up the wharf, then come back to tie at the available spot. Sometimes you can’t avoid to crawl over other dinghies to reach the shore. Taking your shoes off and maybe washing your feet could make this ‘frowned upon’ situation a bit better. And when you tie, you must always keep the propeller down so that you eliminate the possibility of damaging or puncturing another dinghy.

5 Don’t drink and drive

Although there are no straight lines to follow on the sea, dinghies are actual motor vehicles and the first rule of vehicles applies to dinghies as well. Never drink and drive and don’t let anyone else make the awful mistake.

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