Dolphin Tales: Dolphins and dockmasters
The month of March in Pine Island Sound is the busiest month of the year. Dolphins are plentiful and so are the boats vying for the coveted 60 parking spots at Cabbage Key. The parade of boats entering the harbor can be very busy and confusing.
It’s important to remember that your dockmaster is your friend. He or she may be shouting instructions at you that you don’t understand but be patient and listen.
There are designated slips and parking spots for different widths and lengths of boats, so you can’t just pull up anywhere. Your dockmaster is going to guide you. When the slips and parking spots are full, you may have to wait outside the main channel. Other boats may be docked before you but remember there are only so many spots for each size of boat. Your turn will come.
According to Cabbage Key dockmaster Jonathan Brooks, it is most important that you have at least four lines on your boat. You need two lines for the bow and two lines for the stern. (On a boat they are not called ropes.) Make sure they are attached at the cleats, secure and ready when you approach the dock. If you have a rental vessel, make sure you check for the location of those lines before you leave the marina. Often, we see people approach the dock with no lines at all but plenty of bumpers on the boat. Those bumpers are not going to help you tie up to the dock!
Please remember that your dockmasters work for tips only. Show them that you appreciate them being there to assist. Even when you leave your vessel for your delicious lunch and to explore the island, they are watching over your boat. If they need to adjust your lines due to currents or tides, they will board your boat and secure it. You don’t have to worry.
Above all, Jonathan stresses to be patient, always looking forward and behind you as you wait for your turn to dock. Be observant and your voyage will be safe and fun.
Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.