Manners & Misdemeanors
Etiquette Rules For Guests on a Yacht
For starters, don't act like a buffoon at a frat party. And respect the captain, will ya?

So, you’ve been invited to go boating with your friends. Folks with boats know that people will start coming out of the woodwork the moment they buy a boat, and are usually more than happy to have some others along. But there are a few rules you need to follow in order to get invited back. Keep in mind, boats aren’t cheap to buy or maintain. Your host is spending his or her time and money to take you out, so don’t act like some buffoon at a frat party.

Here are a couple of rules to ensure you’ll receive future invites.


Don’t be the guy that brings one bag of pretzel rods for a full day of boating. Eventually, you will get hungry (especially after a few beverages) and when you do, you will have to depend on the kindness of others to be fed properly. Consider bringing sandwiches, chopped fruit, veggies, chips, or perhaps even a cheese platter. Be gracious when someone does offer you their food, and don’t take for granted that the host/hostess is supposed to feed you unless this was specifically implied.


Always bring twice what you can drink. Boating is a communal affair and you may have to share some of your rosé with others because there will inevitably be one person who comes empty-handed. Also, don’t just show up with drinks and assume there will be room in someone else's cooler. Unless you’re bringing Veuve—we’ll make room in our cooler for that. And drink a water every now and again. Proper hydration will ensure that you don’t get too intoxicated and become “That Guy.”


Did you tell the captain you were bringing a friend/dog/child on their boat? Inviting tag-alongs without notice is a big no-no. Maybe that extra body will overcrowd the boat, or pee on the carpet (I mean the dog, not the friend) and some situations just aren’t kid-friendly. Besides, you have just become personally responsible for the care and feeding of your guest. You’re now going to have to share your beverages and pretzel rods between two people. Always check with your host/hostess before dragging along a sidekick.


Absolutely nothing goes into the water that is not seaweed. Orange rinds, peanut shells, and such are no big deal but be mindful of your trash. Litter is destructive and disgusting. In fact, if you find a piece of garbage in the water, pick it up and put it in a trash bin. Don’t be lazy.



Always ask before lighting up on someone’s boat. Once again, these are expensive machines, and just because they’re open air, doesn’t mean it’s ok. Owners always fear that some drunk may put a burn hole in the seat. Be considerate, ask first, and NEVER throw your butts in the water.


Be sure you’ve brought all you need for fun in the sun. This includes sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick, and a towel along with your food and drinks. Trust your friends when they say you need sunscreen or a water.


OK here’s the deal: The captain is in charge of the boat. (The captain may not always be the one in the driver's seat). If he/she says it’s time to go, it’s time to go. If they ask you to move, sit down, or shut up, do it. As fun and relaxing as boating is, it is the captain's job to ensure the safety of all the people on their boat and they are liable for you. Also, the captain chooses the music or appoints a DJ—end of discussion.


If you feel a “Hold my beer and watch this” moment coming up, just say no. Do not push anyone out of a moving boat or jump out of a moving boat. Do not hang out by the motor of a running boat. Don’t try a double back flip off the platform. Don’t sit on the rails at high speeds. In other words, don’t be dumb.


Respect the boat! Don’t step on seats—only hard surfaces if possible. Don’t play with any buttons or switches. Don’t try to start the boat while the captain is away. Don’t try to “help” unless the captain asks you to. Spray sunscreen before getting on the boat. Sunscreen spray makes seats sticky and hard to clean. (The lotion kind is better for your skin and the environment anyway.)


Nothing is more tiresome than sitting with a boat full of people waiting on that one person who didn’t plan ahead. We could be out having fun, but no—we’re still at the dock because you just texted “On My Way!” from inside the liquor store. Have some respect for your friends and get there when you are supposed to.



Don’t stand up until the boat is fully secure. Make sure you grab everything you brought with you. Ask the Captain if they need help wiping down the boat!

Oh, and if you get invited out regularly, offer to chip in for gas.

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Vikki Fraser
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