Boat Passenger Etiquette: Top 7 Rules for Passengers

Whether you're taking a sailboat out for a day trip or going on a cabin cruiser for the weekend, it's crucial to follow some basic boat rules and etiquette as a boat passenger. Following these guidelines will help keep everyone safe, give a more enjoyable experience, and ensure you'll be invited back again!

7 Essential Rules Every Boat Passenger Should Follow

Ready to head out on the water as a first-time boat passenger? These seven quick tips will prepare you for an enjoyable and safe boat trip.


1. Always Listen to Your Boat Captain

The vessel's captain is in charge and has the final say on all decisions regarding safety and navigation. As a boat passenger, you must listen to the captain's instructions and heed their advice. By complying with their instructions, you'll make their job easier, which is to keep passengers safe!

2. Respect the Boat

As a boat passenger, it is important to treat the boat (and the water) respectfully. Never litter in the water or throw loose items around the boat; dispose of trash properly in bins where available. 

3. Know the "Right" Way To Be Sick

Unfortunately, some boat passengers are prone to sea sickness. Let your boat captain and other passengers know if you're feeling queasy. Seasickness symptoms can worsen if left untreated, so be sure to communicate any discomfort immediately. Your boat captain may have sea sickness medicine on board, which can help alleviate symptoms. 

If you feel seasick, sit down, and stay up on deck near fresh air as much as possible– especially away from areas prone to high wave activity. Focus on looking at the horizon instead of your feet, which may worsen symptoms. 

Read Next: Five Ways to Prevent Seasickness

4. Wear Your Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket

This goes without saying – life jackets save lives! Even if you are an experienced swimmer, always wear a Cost Guard Approved life jacket, especially if you plan to be exposed to the water. 

5. Know Where and When to Sit

Sitting in the appropriate spot is an important aspect of being a responsible boat passenger. This means occupying your designated seat on the boat and refraining from sitting anywhere the captain prohibits.  


It is particularly imperative to avoid sitting on the bow of the boat; bow riding can be hazardous, particularly on pontoon boats. 

In addition, regulations may require passengers to remain seated while the boat is in motion, depending on the body of water. So, be sure to ask your captain before moving around the boat.

6. Play Safe

Boating is meant to be fun! Make sure you enjoy boating responsibly. Don't stand on boat seats, play around with boat controls, or pretend to push someone overboard. These activities are dangerous, and you could hurt yourself or someone else.

7. Be Aware When Swimming

Never swim when the boat is in motion! This protects you from hazards such as rocking boats, spinning propellers, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Read Next: The Top 4 Reasons to Take a Boating Safety Course

Final Thoughts

These boat passenger safety tips will help keep you safe and confident while on the water. It's important to remember that safety should be everyone's priority when boating, so be sure to follow all instructions given by your captain or crew. Have fun, and stay safe!

This article and video are sponsored by Progressive Insurance®

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