Tipping is a personal thing. Most dock hands and marina staff are not highly compensated. They rely on tips for a large portion of their compensation. We did go to a few marinas where tipping is not allowed, and in Canada, Parks Canada staff at the locks and marinas are not allowed to accept tips. However, they do love getting cookies, candy, and other treats. We made up little zip-lock bags with treats in them that were easy to toss from the boat to the lock staff, and it was very appreciated!)

We consider ourselves generous tippers. A minimum tip for tie-up assistance by a dock hand in calm water is $10. If it’s rough or windy and they help us get in safely or take the time to roll up our docklines and hook up power and water, it’s $15. For extra help on rough or windy days or if we mess up our docking and they bail us out (it happened once or twice), it’s $20.

If we get fuel, it’s $10, even if we pump it. Same with a pump-out, it’s $10 at the dock, or $20 if they come to the boat and THEY do the dirty work. These, for us, are additive, so if we came into a marina on a windy day or with a strong current and they worked to get the boat tied up, fueled us up, and did a pump-out, we might tip $30 to $40.

In general, you are rewarding good service, and if you tip well, you will get extra benefits during your stay, like advice on where to go or watching your boat while you are away. Some boaters are not able to or just do not tip, so we try to make a point of tipping well to help make up for them. If we don’t get good service or there is no one to meet us on the dock when we come in, then I speak with my tip and don’t tip, but I’m polite about it and let them know I missed getting help.

If you leave your boat for an extended period (like for a trip home), get to know one of the dock-hands or the dockmaster, and give them a tip before you leave when you ask them to keep an eye on your boat. Then, tip them again when you return (if your boat is still floating).

The other folks that you might encounter are service people. Especially if you need to get your boat hauled out for work. I have friends who are mechanics, and a tip goes a long way! When I get hauled out, I always talk to the lift operator and hand him a tip (typically $50) before the boat gets hauled out. I use the approach with mechanics. I ALWAYS ask to meet the mechanics who will be working on my boat. (I’ve changed the repairs I am going to have done based on my initial impression of a mechanic, sometimes more, many times less!) I tip them in advance, usually $50 for a prop change or regular service. It’s incredible how much better a job they do and how much they clean up after themselves. When the work is done, I will typically tip about 15% of the final bill total to the mechanics and another $50 to the lift operator when they re-splash the boat.

I know many people will not be able to tip at this level, but please think about these folks. They are taking care of YOUR BOAT, your floating home. If a mechanic is crawling around in your hot engine room, offer them a bottle of water. If they work on your boat for multiple days, treat them to breakfast or lunch one day. Finding good mechanics is getting tougher and tougher, and a little consideration goes a long way.

Write A Comment