In­side An­gle

Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time: these dock hogs need to be stopped.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Bill Prince

They haunt the lo­cal ma­rina, ob­struct­ing the dock in their $19 fold­ing chairs. They’re dock block­ers!

Ithink we’ve all had this hap­pen to us be­fore at the most in­op­por­tune time. Let’s call it a Fri­day af­ter­noon. You’re strolling down the dock to­wards your boat, car­ry­ing two bags and ready for an­other fun week­end.

But sud­denly, about ten slips down the dock, you spot them. They’re not from around here; you can eas­ily tell even from this dis­tance. Vis­it­ing boaters are usu­ally fun to in­ter­act with, be they mo­tor boaters, good-na­tured fish­er­men or sailors from an­other sea. But this group is dif­fer­ent.

They’re fun and good-na­tured, don’t get me wrong. But they rarely ven­ture out alone, typ­i­cally trav­el­ing to­gether in a small fleet of two to four boats. (In my lo­cal cruis­ing waters, these boats are typ­i­cally newer ex­press cruis­ers around 45 feet or so, each worth as much as a de­cent home in a D.C. sub­urb.) But in­stead of en­joy­ing their boats, they’re all sit­ting around in cheap ny­lon fold­ing camp­ing chairs ON. THE. DOCK. They’re dock block­ers! I un­der­stand each ma­rina has its own so­cial mores and taboos. On my dock, Pier 4, we have a mix of about fifty power and sail­boats, cruis­ing yachts and sport­fish­ing bat­tlewag­ons from 35 to 65 feet— dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks. We chat over the cock­pit coam­ing, or we in­vite one an­other aboard our boats to talk, drink, lie about fish and make fun of our friends’ cruis­ing mishaps. But we don’t buy $19 chairs from Dick’s Sport­ing Goods and oc­cupy them for hours in the mid­dle of the damn dock! These in­ter­lop­ing dock block­ers op­er­ate un­der dif­fer­ent so­cial norms than we do here on Pier 4.

We all know what the pur­pose of the Mid­dle of the Damn Dock is. When you re­ally need to take care of busi­ness on your boat, you’ve gotta go back and forth over and over again un­til your task is com­pleted. Some guys have fur­ther to go each way, de­pend­ing on how long their dock is. It’s of­ten a tight fit in the Mid­dle of the Damn Dock, and it’s slippery when wet. We avoid hav­ing two guys in the Mid­dle of the Damn Dock at the same time un­der any cir­cum­stances.

The Mid­dle of the Damn Dock is also for perky co-ed ma­rina staff to use when wel­com­ing vis­it­ing cruis­ers, as I’m sure they did for a good half-hour when these ya­hoos showed up. Did it not oc­cur to these dock block­ers that other peo­ple might want to use the Mid­dle of the Damn Dock tonight? Af­ter a long night of dock block­ing, most of these guys have had so much to drink that they’re just wasted sea­men any­way.

These dock block­ers could save big bucks if they’d just buy the cheap chairs you un­fold from the lit­tle pouch and put them on the Mid­dle of their own Damn Dock with­out both­er­ing to buy a boat at all. Just one night of fun is all they’re re­ally af­ter, any­way. They wouldn’t even have to learn how to use that joy­stick, ei­ther.

It makes me won­der if these nice but some­what clue­less guys are not specif­i­cally dock block­ers, but just block­ers in gen­eral. They might be just as happy sit­ting in those same camp­ing chairs next to an RV in a Wal­mart park­ing lot, oc­cu­py­ing four per­fectly good spa­ces that other peo­ple might want to use. Maybe they stand up at their seat in the front row of the ter­race level along the third base line, block­ing the view for half the Cubs’ game for the peo­ple be­hind them.

Or maybe they like to block the nar­row aisle in the lo­cal wa­ter­ing hole, smoth­er­ing the best-look­ing woman in the place with inane small talk while the other guy who’s try­ing to buy her a drink can’t get a word in edge­wise. What­ever the case, one thing is cer­tain. No one likes a dock blocker.

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