Boating 101: Dinghy Safety and Etiquette

By Heather Francis.

Is there anything better than relaxing in your favorite anchorage? That is until someone drives their dinghy through the mooring field, throwing up a huge wake and rocking every boat in their path. Although there are no white lines to stay between, there’s still standardized rules regarding safe-conduct and etiquette when driving your dinghy.

Whether you’re going on a snorkeling adventure, loading up with provisions at the dock or visiting another yacht in the anchorage here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe and trouble-free time away from the mothership.

Safety Equipment For Dinghy Sailing

Many boaters are not aware that the US Coast Guard requires boats under 16 feet to be registered and must display the registration numbers on the hull. The Coast Guard also requires small vessels to carry essential safety equipment including a USCG approved life jacket for each passenger, flares, a fire extinguisher and a sound-producing device such as a horn or a whistle.

When running between sunset and sunrise dinghies that can travel at speeds of 7kts or more are required to display an all-round white light and red-and-green sidelights. Essential equipment, such as a bailer and a pair of oars, is not considered compulsory. However, most sailors will probably agree that these two safety items get used the most in a typical cruising dinghy.