Be sure to enter an anchorage or mooring area at a slow speed. This is like moving into a new neighborhood. You want your neighbors to like you. Again, you don’t want to create a wake that would upset someone’s dinner or drink.
Remember that the first person in the anchorage has the right to determine the swing radius. Don’t get too close to other anchored boats. The wind can change and in a matter of minutes you can have fouled and tangled anchor lines, and hulls and dinghies banging against each other. I’ll never forget the commotion caused one night off the Bitter End in the BVI when a late-arriving boat anchored too close to another. The shifting wind at 0300 caused them to tangle with one another and soon there were two angry and burly boaters on deck, sans clothing, but armed with spotlights, shouting and cursing while blinding each other with the lights. Not a pretty sight! Speaking of spotlights, if you need to use one, make sure you don’t inadvertently blind your neighbor.
Before anchoring evaluate your intended behavior; the more music, people on board, children, pets and smoke from your barbecue that you intend to create, the further downwind you should be from your neighbors. Sound carries exceptionally well over water and many boaters retire early for an early departure. Respect their right to sleep in peace. Also, remember that any comment you make may be heard.
If you are using your dinghy at night to go to shore or visit others in the anchorage, do so using oars and not your outboard. How far could the shore be if you’re anchored in ten feet of water? Some boaters are friendly and like to socialize, while others are reflective and just want to be left alone. If you are rowing around the anchorage and see people on deck, you should be friendly but not intrusive unless, of course, encouraged. Tradition dictates that if you approach another vessel you should do so on the starboard side six to ten feet away. If you strike up a conversation and you recognize by the tenor of the strangers that they really aren’t interested, just move on out of their space.
Make sure you get permission before picking up a guest mooring. It may be reserved for another boater arriving later on or it may be unsuitable for your vessel.