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boat on water while following boating etiquette

Everything You Need to Know About Boating Etiquette

on June 14, 2022

It’s only natural that the goal of every boating trip is to have as much fun as possible and relax. However, boating etiquette keeps the experience fun for everyone currently boating on any particular body of water. Without it, it is easy to imagine that the experience would quickly sour for a lot of people. Here’s everything you need to know about boating etiquette to keep things civil and pleasant.

Be conscious of your speed near shore and harbor

Now, even when you are out at sea, it is good etiquette not to drive your boat quickly past the vessels of others. The wake produced by doing so can rock someone else’s boat and cause all sorts of trouble. Including the potential for making someone fall overboard, in which case you might actually be endangering a person’s life. However, it’s doubly important to slow your boat down and avoid producing a wake when you are near the shore. And especially the docks. There are lots of boats moored in these locations. A strong wake can make them tumble in place and can severely damage them if it knocks them against the dock or runs them ashore. If you end up doing something like that, it’s unlikely that you would be able to avoid paying for damages. Or even get into more serious trouble.


Caption: Creating a wake further out on the water can still be fun and doesn’t go against boating etiquette!

Always be on the lookout for surrounding boats

It is basic boating etiquette to be familiar with the navigation rules and the waterway markers of whatever body of water you are planning to boat on well in advance. This will not just help you avoid losing your bearings out on the water; it will also help prevent collisions. Of course, it is your duty to vigilantly be on the lookout for other boats. Especially if you are driving quickly. If you are careless, it’s possible to cause a collision in spite of the other party’s attempts to avoid one. Which, of course, would mean your own boat would take severe damage too!

Driving a boat quickly

Caption: Be careful with how quickly you are going so you can actually react in an emergency.

Do not allow your parties to get out of hand

If you are planning a weekend getaway on your boat or just a short party, then you definitely need to understand one thing—sound carries oddly over water. The water surface amplifies it many times. This means that what you might think is a reasonable volume to play music and party at can actually be deafening to people boating near you. If you are out at sea with no one in sight for miles, this is not a big problem. However, if you have chosen to organize a party while boating out on a lake, especially if it is a smaller lake, then you are likely breaking the basic boating etiquette. And being quite a nuisance to everyone too.

Be familiar with the local and state boating laws

The best way to know if you are actually doing something wrong is to be familiar with the state boating laws. As well as the local laws relating to the body of water you are planning to sail. The experts associated with the database warn that you can get into a lot of trouble if you assume driving laws, be it on land or on water, are the same everywhere. This is particularly the case if you have just moved from a different state! The behavior you may be used to and see as normal may not even be legal in these new waters. Of course, knowing all the required safety rules and regulations, as well as the required safety equipment in the area, is also essential. Breaking these rules can reflect very poorly on you and may even ruin the boating experience for other people.

Be efficient when resupplying

If you are planning to refuel, you need to do that quickly and efficiently. Taking forever to get done with the process can seriously hold up lines and upset everyone. Similarly, if you are trying to gain access to a loading area so you can transfer the necessary marine supplies onto your boat, and you know other people are waiting to use the area too, try and be efficient with your work. Dragging your feet is upsetting and goes against boating etiquette.

Do not clog up the dock

It is very important for a dock to work like clockwork. So, when planning to set out, it is always necessary to do all your prep work before going into the launch position. Even if, for example, you have hired a moving company, gone through an interstate move, and managed to reach Delaware with ease, before hurrying out in excitement to try your boat out in new waters, make sure you actually plan a route beforehand! Or at least do it once you are out on the water and not bothering anyone. It is a terrible practice to sit halfway out the dock while studying potential cruise routes.

Never throw trash overboard

Do you want to go boating to admire the beautiful nature, only to see bottles and pieces of trash floating on the water? Probably not, we assume. So, do not force such an unpleasant experience on others either! Boating is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing thing for everyone. Not to mention the fact that by littering, you are also ruining the local ecosystem and putting the underwater wildlife at risk. Once introduced into the ocean or a lake, plastic would take far too long to be weathered down. This means that it would practically never decompose unless someone fished it out. In addition, one of the useful tips for boating with pets is to keep an eye on the mess your pets are producing, too. If seeing a bit of litter in the water is unpleasant, then you can just imagine people’s reaction to feces or vomit.

A beautiful beach

Caption: Let us protect the beauty of beaches together!

What to keep in mind when following boating etiquette

In the end, everything you need to know about boating etiquette can be summarized in one sentence: Do not do anything you wouldn’t want someone else doing on the water or at the docks. If you just try and stick to those words, you should do fine no matter where you are.


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