Coming In For A Landing
By Bob Adriance
These days, everybody may have their eyes focused on the price when they're at the fuel pump, but even getting to the gas pump has its moment of drama, too. Here are a few suggestions about navigating the fuel dock, from those in the water and those at the dock.
From The Water:
I look to see who's ahead of me, and wait until after he/she goes in. If I can't fit, then I let a smaller boat go ahead of me. We "wait" by idling about 100 feet off the gas dock. When it's crowded, boaters should be ready to tie up. Do so quickly, fuel-up and then leave. The most frustrating thing is the boater who fuels up and then decides he/she needs ice, has to walk the dog, or fiddle around with the boat while still taking up space at the dock.
From The Dock:
We keep things very structured and typically use the VHF to communicate with boats who are waiting. In the thick of the season, we'l have up to a few hours wait for the fuel dock. My dock staff uses a dry-erase board to keep lists of who wants gas/diesel and in what order. If it's going to be a long wait, we'll offer a customer a mooring to hang out on, a harbor float or a piece of dock space if we have it. I've even given a handheld to somebody who didn't have one so we could bring them in when the time was right.
- Circle in front of the gas dock. This way other boats know you're next or, at least, in line.
- Speaking of line, have your lines ready at the bow and stern. Don't rely on the gas dock to have them. A fender or two may be necessary so have them ready as well.
- Gas up when you come in so you don't have to spend time waiting with a boat full of eager people waiting to get out on the water or, if possible, gas up on a Wednesday when you plan to go out on a weekend.