how much to tip boat captain

Tips on Tipping! Here’s How Much You Should Be Tipping Your Boat Captain

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 16, 2021

Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Renting a boat is a great way to enjoy some quality outdoor time, no matter if you’re trying to make a trophy catch or looking to get a nice tan during your cruise. But there are always some tricks, hidden coves, or familiarities with the area that allow you to maximize your boat trip— That’s where captains come in handy.  So let us dive into the responsibilities, the proper tipping etiquette, and the value of having a boat captain at the helm:

Post summary:

  • What are duties of a captain
  • Hiring local captains
  • Why you should tip your captain
  • Recognizing good service with a good tip
  • Captain tipping explained
  • Boating like a local: The value of captained boat rentals

Discover boat rentals with captains near you—Only at Boatsetter  

Quick disclaimer

Everyone can benefit from even the smallest crew, and of course, the more passengers there are, the more work there is to be done. We encourage you to seek a professional captain and crew on certain occasions like hosting a boat party.

For the record, in this post, we’re talking about USCG-certified captains. That distinction is important. The boat owner could take up captaining duties without carrying an actual license. Who is eligible for a captain’s licenses depends on the laws of the state and country where you’re boating and whether it’s legal to drive a boat without a special captain license or not.

Pro tip: If you’re considering getting a boating licenses, we recommend reading: 7 Things to Consider Before Getting a Captain’s License. 

What are the duties of a captain

In simplest terms, the job of a captain is to make sure everything goes smoothly. Boat charter captains are aware of all the safety precautions and communication with coastal guards to get the weather and safety reports to make any trip worry-free. They assign and monitor duties performed by the crew, keep a well-documented log of the journey.

In the case of international travel, the captain must meet the requirements of local and international customs and inspections. Combine that with their knowledge of how to deal with all kinds of mechanical problems and operate all of the machinery onboard along with first aid training and much more, to get the idea that having a captain on board is definitely something you should think about.

Hiring local captains

But there is more. When you hire a charter boat captain, his expertise also includes knowing the best places for sandbar partying, snorkeling or fishing, and dockside dining. Also, most can share a thrilling story or two when the sailing goes smoothly. As a general rule of thumb, captains tend to be locals and as such are more familiar with the best spots and even some hidden places of beauty and interest.

In summary, your hired captain should make sure the sailing goes as smooth as possible through the combination of safety protocols, understanding of the local weather, knowledge of the area and of their crew. Captains also supervise passengers and crew as they embark and disembark from the boat. While booking a boat rental with a captain is not required, it can surely be of great help. Especially if you want to kick back and relax or try out watersports.

Why you should tip your boat captain

First, let’s clear up a couple of things. A tip is not mandatory and there are no hard outlined rules. A tip is a customer-driven act that usually shows appreciation of the level of service. The “rates” for how much to tip a boat captain vary from 5-20%. However, there is a certain etiquette.The tip is always given to the captain, in cash, who then distributes the tip among the crew equally. If there is a crew, of course, the thing to consider here is that charters aren’t like restaurants. The people who work charters would compare it more with a lifestyle because their shifts are usually longer.

In some countries, seasons are only good for 12-16 weeks. Even when the captain owns the boat, most of the money goes to maintenance of the boat and the expenses of owning a business.

Secondly, as mentioned, the tip is a way to show appreciation of the quality of service. Even inexperienced people can tell a rushed service from a really good one, and it is said that no good deed should go unnoticed. People in this industry are usually devoted to ensuring their customers get the best possible service. Here’s what boat crew members say about tipping.

You can always feel when someone is genuinely giving their best, so you can enjoy your boating summer vacation the most.

Recognizing good service with a good tip

These extra things can be small, like giving you an honest drink recommendation or a tip on where to go for a nice meal among boat up bars. They can be bigger things like taking extra care of all the allergies, likes, and dislikes in food preparation and personalized service on a more individual level.

You can tell that the captain is giving his all when he changes the routes to give you a little something extra or to show you some natural wonders like potential whale watching, a secluded location, or “the best” fishing or diving locations. This is in no way an expansive list, but it is a good indicator to give you a feel of what constitutes as a better service.

Captain tipping explained

It is good to look into tipping customs in the specific country where you rent a boat with a captain. Also, while asking the crew members on tipping etiquette may create awkward situations, discussing it with the captain is perfectly fine.

In fact, it is always a good idea to double-check the plan and expenses with the captain before the trip. And yes, it is a good opportunity to discuss the proper tipping etiquette. Usually, if the service was fine, people leave 5-10% of the whole price as a tip, but the more effort they put in and the better quality of service, the appropriate tip can go as high as 20%.

Boating like a local: The value of captained boat trips

Did you know: Not only are Boastetter captains USCG-certified, they’re also local experts!  Yes, indeed. When you rent a boat with a captain, you have a professional who knows the lay of the waterways. So make sure to your captain things like ‘Where is the best sandbar party?’ ‘Can we go somewhere secluded? I want to have some me-time.’ And, they’ll gladly help. The money you’re paying for a captain comes back to you as added comfort, leisure, and that which you can not put a price on, knowledge!

About us 

Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone—whether you own a boat or you’re just renting—the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.

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