Boat Etiquette When You Are Invited on a Boat

Wouldn’t you love to go out on a boat, but maybe you don’t own one yet, but you have a friend with a boat! Or, maybe you own the boat but you're tired of your friends not knowing proper “boat etiquette” when they’re invited. Whatever the case may be, as a guest, it’s your job to be as helpful and grateful as possible. If you do that, your friend - the boat owner, usually feels obliged to invite you back! Following is a list of some things you should do (or do not) when you get invited, if you want to be invited next time!




1. Be on time.


This one should maybe go without saying. There is nothing more frustrating than having to make several trips back to the dock because people can’t be on time. If you’re invited to come out on somebody’s boat, make it a priority and don’t try to negotiate a pick up time to fit around your schedule. You either fit your schedule around the boating opportunity, or forget it, at least until next time. That also goes for drop offs. Don't be that person who asks to be dropped off early.

2. Take your shoes off before stepping on board.


Would you walk all over someone’s new or clean floor or carpet with your shoes on? Certainly hope not! Just remember the same rules apply to the upholstery on your friend’s boat. The polite thing when stepping onto a boat regardless of the type of boat, is to take off your shoes. You’re on the water anyway.

3. Pay attention and if necessary stay out of the way.


Everyone has a first time on a boat. Maybe this is yours. Or maybe you only get the opportunity once or twice every couple of years? Not a problem, no reason to get freaked out! As all boaters know, there is an excitement to being out on the water and feeling the freedom of just cruising along on the lake or ocean.

But, it’s important not to get lost in the excitement of it all. The captain has an awful lot to pay attention to, especially on busy holiday weekends. Do not be one of those people walking around, blasting music and singing at the top of your lungs while you take Instagram selfie videos. If you do you’re causing a problem. There’s a time and a place for all of the celebration, don’t worry, but be sure you’re paying close attention to your surroundings. Usually, if the captain looks kind of intense or extra focused, it’s time to sit down and hush.

4. Occasionally ask if there’s anything you can do to help.


It really is as simple as paying attention and being aware of your surroundings. Yes, you can take pictures and videos and show the world what a great time you’re having on the boat! But, you’re missing out if you’re just sitting there scrolling through Instagram the whole time. Put your phone away and enjoy the present moment out on the water. You’ll be glad you did!

Also a really nice gesture is to occasionally ask the captain if there’s anything you can do to help. If you’re not sure how you can help, just ask! Trust me, it will be appreciated.

5. Don’t invite other people without asking the owner of the boat first.


Probably should have made this “rule” first! Remember many boats have a limited capacity with the number of people legally allowed on board, but the boat owner usually has in mind how many life jackets they’ll need on board, amongst other things. The last thing they need is you bringing other unannounced guests. Just ask in advance if it’s okay to bring along a friend or two!

6. Ask before using any gear.


It’s just common courtesy, never assume that it’s ok to borrow any gear you see on the boat. This type of gear can be expensive, so be sure to ask “what you can use.” Most of the time, people are happy to share, but on the off chance they are worried about it it’s better to ask first.

7. Always offer and be prepared to contribute to paying for the gas.


The reality of it is that boats run on gas, not on “Thank you, I had a great time.” Depending on the person and situation, you may get lucky and have a day on the water at no expense to you, which is awesome! Always offer to help contribute for gas. If the driver doesn’t give a specific amount, prepare to give at least $25 for your portion of an afternoon/day on the water.



8. Always offer to help wipe down and clean the boat when you get back to shore.


Most people who own a boat take the time to really take care of it, and if you’re someone who was lucky enough to benefit from their ownership, be sure to offer to help with the work that goes into it. Offering to help clean it and cover it after it’s used can go a long way, even if every time you’re told “don’t worry I’ve got it” the offer itself will be remembered.

9. Say "THANK YOU!"


This should go without saying, its common sense, but always remember to say Thank You! Saying thank you and letting them know how much you appreciate all the effort they put in and making sure they know how much fun you had will go a long way in getting you re-invited.