When I first met my husband, he was already a seasoned boater and loved being out on the water. Living in Washington State … being on the water is part of life around here. I grew up spending time on our families boats but spent little of my adult life. I knew a few of the basic courtesies when boating … but I learned SO MUCH during those first years dating my now husband.
We often invite friends to join us out on the water, and I am always amazed at how in tune they are with boating etiquette and how considerate they are of our space. I often think, “I wish I knew then … what I know now …” regarding how to be a guest on someone else’s boat. I figured I could share what little I know, and hopefully help a few others on their quest to be a perfect boating guest.
You know what they say, “The only thing better than owning a boat … is having a friend who owns a boat.” This is so true, and a sure fire way to ensure you receive another invite to join them out on the water is to start off on the right foot getting into the boat!!
- No shoes on a boat … ever. This definitely depends on the type of boat you are riding on, but I don’t know a boat captain anywhere that would oppose to any passenger taking off their shoes. Especially when you first step on the boat. We own a bowrider and to embark (throwing a little nautical terminology your way), you have to step on our sun pad. Nothing will make a boat owner cringe more than a shoe on their upholstery. Make sure you NEVER wear a high heel and try to wear shoes you can easily remove or kick off before stepping foot on a boat from a dock/pier.
- Ask about cooler/storage situations. We love it when our friends who are joining us on the boat for the day, bring snacks and drinks. However, be aware that boating space is limited. We try to accommodate friends by always having room in our onboard coolers for their drinks/food. I always try to communicate space availability before we go too. Friends are always SUPER generous, and while we would LOVE to have that 18 pack of bottles on the boat … our cooler may not have room and that case is taking up valuable leg room. Another option is to bring a small cooler with you. We have some friends who brought a great cooler recently, and it was perfect for our time out on the water. Small and compact, you didn’t even notice it. A good rule of thumb is to always ask if you can/should bring a cooler – or if there will be room for your items in the one already on the boat.
- No glass on a boat. Bare feet and glass do not mix. Boating can be rocky and while glass is always fun to hold … it can be dangerous. Keep this in mind when you bring things on the boat. Look for drinks in cans/plastic bottles and try to bring containers which are disposable or can collapse if possible.
- Be aware of dirt and crumbs. We recently purchased a 12v vacuum for our boat … because my level of OCD became too much for my husband to handle. People getting in and out of your boat on a beach or shore can mean dirt and sand being dragged into the boat. Be mindful and take that extra moment to dip your feet in the water, before you swing them into the boat. Your boat captain will notice and be thankful for your attempt at making it a little cleaner.
- Ask to help. My husband has a specific way he likes to tie our boat up and place our buoys. I have been around long enough, I know his methods now. But, any chance someone else on our boat is willing to help, I gladly pass the reigns over to them. When you see things need to be done, speak up and let others know you are willing to help tie … steer … even hold a baby … it makes the entire day so much more fun, for you and the boater.
Hopefully, these few tips might help the next time you are invited on a boat. We have been SO LUCKY to have amazing friends who are already aware of these little nuances, and I am lucky my husband had the patience to help me with them too!
If I see you on the water … I’m the one with the blonde ponytail, waving to everyone!