The death of boat etiquette
  |  First Published: June 2009

Is there such a thing as boat etiquette, and how do you learn about it if you are a novice at being a passenger on a boat?

I found this an interesting question because I took Old Mate out on my boat recently for a night fish. I’d never met him before; someone’s best friend’s mother’s dog had arranged for Old Mate to come out onto the water with me because: “He loves his fishing and you go fishing so you can take him.”

Well he might love his fishing, but he likes having dry feet more. Sorry...doesn’t that make sense to you? Let me explain.

It started with a late night launch at boat ramp; me bringing the boat down to meet Old Mate at the ramp. Old Mate gets his gear, chucks it in the boat, but doesn’t seem to want to push the boat in off the trailer. Fair enough, I think, might be more complicated than it looks.

Old Mate does hang on to the rope though as the boat goes down the trailer and into the water. Despite weighing more than a small car, he gets dragged off the ramp. Sandals get wet.

Rest of the trip goes okay. Only occasional problems when anchor has to come up. I have to leave the skipper’s seat to be anchor bitch while Old Mate watches. I gave Old Mate the best livies - the 4” herring and the 5” banana prawn. The herring gets smashed and Old Mate loses the fish by tightening up his drag too much too soon. Drops something quite nice. Prawn gets picked off. Never mind. No word of thanks for baits.

Get back to the ramp on the way home. Boat heading for ramp in idle. Sheik unable to get out of front of boat to stop prow of boat whacking into ramp (again) as Sheik busy trimming motor to stop prop and motor leg belting into ramp (again). Old Mate watches with no more than casual interest as boat steadily gets closer and closer to ramp until bang! Boat hits ramp. Then Old Mate watches as Sheik gets out of boat, runs up and gets trailer, reverses trailer down ramp, takes off shoes and socks, rolls up jeans, gets into water and hooks winch to boat then winds boat onto trailer. Old Mate waits until boat is on trailer then steps out onto dry land, gets gear and goes home.

Well, I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it with me. Say what you like about the Dudds, if one of us is an anchor bitch, then he’s an anchor bitch, and everything possible is done to help make the trip easier. Almost everything. Giving up the last cold one for the skipper does not compute. Nor does not dropping a lure or bait into the spot where your boat mate has just seconds ago been busted off. Or giving in on the Billy Slater vs Matty Bowen argument for Qld Origin fullback. But everything else.

So how does that happen? Do you need to be an experienced boat goer to be a successful anchor bitch, or is it just a matter of politeness? Do some people have it and some people don’t? It’s an interesting thing to think about.

Not that I’ll be wasting too much time in the future thinking about it. Strangers aren’t getting in my boat any more. Only experienced anchor bitches need apply. Boobs, Doughers, Pommers, Stuffer, Skipper... where are you?

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