Any social setting has some unspoken rules to follow; the same is true for boating. When you’re out on the water, you may come across other boaters, and to respect others in the same space, you should know the proper boating etiquette.
Though these rules aren’t taught in any official course – social rules rarely are! – you should remember them when you head out onto the water.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Just as you’d stay aware of your position on the road while driving, you must keep an eye on your environment while boating. Watch out for other boats around you and any potential hazards. Avoid creating a wake that could disturb others, and keep a safe distance from the people around you.
Mind Your Speed
It goes without saying that you should control the speed at which your boat is moving. In no-wake zones, be very careful to slow down, but even outside of these areas, don’t go so fast that your wake disturbs others.
Be sensible about your speed in crowded areas and different water conditions.
Control Noise Levels
Noise can be disturbing for other boaters in the area, as well as the wildlife. Though playing music loudly as you enjoy your time on the water may be tempting, this can be bothersome for others around you. Keep your noise levels low and maintain peace so everyone can have an enjoyable experience.
Respect The Environment
Remember that the water is not your domain. It is home to many different types of wildlife and diverse ecosystems, and you should respect them as a ‘visitor’ to their space. Don’t litter or toss your trash into the water, and avoid approaching any of the wildlife. Not only could you possibly harm them, they could also harm you. Different areas have different guidelines around acceptable behavior. These are often curated based on the kind of living organisms found there and how to protect them, so make sure to follow these rules.
Communicate With Others
Of course, be respectful and polite when you communicate with others around you. Boating etiquette usually includes using hand signals and non-verbal communication to talk to other boaters. Because there will usually be some distance between you and others, using these signals lets you avoid shouting and disturbing the wildlife.
Make sure you communicate your boating intentions clearly before making sudden moves. When others are surprised, they may not be able to steer away in time, and you may collide.
Stay On Course
Of course, when you’re on a boat, always stay on course. You don’t want to make sudden turns or maneuvers that could endanger others around you.
If you notice someone around you in any trouble, extend a hand! Even if they don’t ask for help, offering it will let them know someone has their back. The water can quickly become dangerous for even the most experienced boaters, so it’s always good to be in a space where people are willing to help each other.
Following these simple rules ensures you and everyone else on the water have an enjoyable experience.