Word on the docks: How dockmasters and captains can work better together

Dec 2, 2022 by Kevin Maher

Dockmasters say a few slight changes in a captain’s docking routine could improve the experience for all involved.

Dockmasters and captains work together frequently, but not always in the most efficient way. Dockmasters who spoke with the Triton said slight changes in a captain’s docking routine could make all the difference for both parties. Here are their suggestions.

Transparency about what your boat needs before reaching the dock is key for vital preparation, according to Jennifer Cognet, dockmaster at Pier Sixty-Six. “If there is anything they require beforehand, whether it is shore power or boarding requests, we can try and accommodate all those needs before they come,” Cognet said. 

Glenda Ramos, marina manager at Sunrise Harbor and longtime dockmaster, agrees that transparency is essential to an enjoyable docking experience. “It can make or break a reservation,” she said. “Power requirements and correct information about the vessel is the most important thing.”

Making sure you give the exact length of your boat is also necessary, but using the waterline length is a mistake, according to Terry Durante, dockmaster at Boca Resort Marina. “If they tell me they’re 65 feet and it’s their waterline depth, and let’s say they’re really like 80 feet, we might be putting them on a sea wall,” Durante said. 

While transparency with dockmasters can help them prepare for a yacht’s arrival, there are also simple tasks that captains and crew can complete to ready their boat.

“Setting up fenders and lines can easily take over five minutes of just idling in the slip,” Durante said. Five minutes might not seem like much, but Durante says those minutes can cause collisions between neighboring boats if the captain isn’t careful. 

Slip location is also a topic of concern, with captains wanting to know where they’ll be docking beforehand. Unfortunately, this isn’t something dockmasters usually know until the day of arrival. “We always guarantee your spot, but it can’t necessarily be the one we told you three weeks in advance,” Cognet said. 

Also, captains should avoid scheduling stays at multiple docks with the idea of docking at the closest one at the end of the day and canceling the other reservations. “We charge them a night stay if they don’t cancel within 48 hours,” said Andy Shell, dockmaster at Bahia Mar Marina.

Despite their suggestions for improvement, all four dockmasters agreed that the working relationship between captains and dockmasters is usually great. 

“I’ve never got into any arguments or anything like that during my career,” Shell said.