For decades, boating has been a favorite pastime worldwide that continues to grow in popularity. Over the years, certain customs or unwritten rules have come about, similar to a code of conduct. These abstract behaviors have evolved to keep boaters safe, out of trouble, and courteous while enjoying a day out on the water. Let’s take a look at proper boating etiquette guidelines and some of the unwritten rules of the waterways.
The last thing you want to do while out on the water is to cause trouble for someone else trying to enjoy a boat day. Although you might not mean any harm, the wake of your boat can cause danger to others if you get too close. Depending on the size of the vessel, hull size, speed, and weight, your boat can create significant size waves that are not only a nuisance to others but can also cause damage to another vessel; or even worse, put a life in danger. Be courteous and safe while boating and slow down when near other boats and give a wide berth. These same guidelines also apply when near a shoreline.
While it may seem like the perfect time to maneuver items around or grab a quick bite to eat, avoid doing so when at the fuel docks. When fueling, it is courteous to fill up, pay and go so other boaters can fuel up and get on with their day. If supplies, food, or additional services are needed, relocate to a nearby spot.
Be courteous with your music levels when out on the boat; sound amplifies over a body of water. Not only is this the polite thing to do for others, but it is also in your best interest to keep levels down. If the music is too loud, the operator may not hear other vessels nearby or hear troubled guests onboard. Keep your safety as well as the safety of everyone onboard forefront of your mind.
When pulling up to a sandbar or entering an anchorage, do so at a slow speed to avoid creating wake for other boaters. Next, look at how the other boats are tied off and copy what they did. Observe how much line to use and the distance between you and the other vessels. For instance, if the other boats are swinging to one anchor, don’t set two anchors, or you will move in a different direction when the current or wind changes, which could cause a collision. In addition, respect your anchorage neighbors: don’t run a generator past 8:00 pm or before 7:00 am and never drive fast through an anchorage; there may be people swimming or snorkeling, and they may be hard to spot.
Taking care of the ocean and environment should be the number one priority for boaters. You can do your part and make sure no trash gets thrown overboard when out on the boat. Trash overboard is an inexcusable misstep in the boating community; for nature, it can damage ecosystems. If you find any trash while out boating or fishing, pick it up and dispose of it. Also, when refueling, keep a close eye not to spill any fuel into the water.
If you see a boat anchored in the middle of the ocean or near mangroves, chances are they are fishing. Keep your distance from them or slow down as much as possible. The sound of engines can scare away fish and create some very unhappy anglers.
Knowing the rules of the water is crucial when out boating. One navigational tip to help you stay in your lane is red, right, returning. This tip implies the red signage will aid to the right side of your vessel when returning inland.
As part of the boating community, if you see someone struggling to dock, anchor, or get their boat off the trailer, offer some guidance or help. Not everyone has the experience of an old salt, and guidance and tips go a long way for inexperienced boaters.
Boating In Bad Weather
National Safe Boating Week:
Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Yacht Owners:
Boating Safety Guideline for pre-departure & on the Water:
Filing a float plan before embarking on a boating excursion:
Top Tips for Pets Aboard: