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Boating Etiquette: AKA how to look like you know what you’re doing ; )

Written by Boatsetter Team
November 27, 2017

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Every boat is unique and, just to keep it interesting, things work just a little differently on each one. As a guest, you have little to worry about other than enjoying yourself…but there are some basic boating etiquette rules unique to boating that experienced boaters practice.

  • It pays to pay attention – Unlike when your airplane is about take off and no one listens to the stewardess do her safety spiel; it’s pretty important to listen to your captain do his safety briefing before you sail off. You should know the location of the safety gear, life jackets, VHF radio, handheld VHF, flares, flashlights, First Aid Kits, etc. If the captain does not tell you, just ask! Better safe than sorry.
  • The “back where you found” it rule – We apologize for being obvious…but when you use something please note where and how it is stored and, we’re sure you would anyway but if you don’t mind, return it to the same location when you’re finished with it.
  • Put some grub in me gullet – Pirates (and the rest of us) love to eat! Plan ahead and use some best practices for your boat trip…every boat’s different, it may or may not have a stock of utensils or have reheating capabilities. It’s okay to ask in advance! Also, red wine and any kind of glass should be avoided. Finger foods tend to work the best for day trips.
  • Everyone has their vice – But be careful…most boats have a non-smoking policy and the US Coast Guard has a zero tolerance policy regarding illegal drug use of any kind.
  • Make a fashion statement, the right way – Boater- in-the-know dress as stylish (or not) as they want but pay special attention to a few key things. Their shoes will be non-marking with non-skid soles and they never wear high heels to go boating! Clothing should be light colored as dark colors can bleed on to the boat’s interior and not too fancy. Weather, ocean spray and spilled drinks – that’s part of the fun of going boating! Sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat that won’t blow away – check, now you’re ready to cruise.

Boating is a way of life and with it comes some best practices and boating etiquette expectations. None of them are really that different from the ones followed by landlubbers; but if followed, they can make you seem like a pro and allow you to do what you set out to do: Enjoy your time on the open waterways and live the salt life!

Don’t own a boat or know anything about boating? You can enjoy a boating lifestyle. Charter a privately-owned, captained-boat of any size or variety and enjoy a fishing trip, a sunset cruise or snorkel in undiscovered nooks and crannies. Learn more at


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