Boating and Yachting Etiquette

Boating and Yachting Etiquette

While aboard a boat, there are some things one needs to remember. Besides left being called port and right being called starboard, one should keep in mind that there are also other people who are enjoying the water at the same time as you. Similar to traffic on the road, any form of traffic on the water is bound to certain conventions, rules and norms. Some of the most obvious examples of boating and yachting etiquette are, always to greet other boats, not to throw rubbish in the water and to be attentive at any other vessel that might cross your path.



Boating as leisure has been around for centuries, and as a means of transportation for as long as history remembers. Therefore, it is not surprising that humans have developed many traditions related to this activity. There are too many curios customs, odd terms and strange norms to list here, and most are not relevant for the chartering business. We will only deal with two main activities – overtaking and anchoring – because they are about the interaction with other boat users. Boating etiquette related to overtaking and anchoring should always be observed, to ensure reciprocal enjoyment by everybody on the water.

First, when overtaking another boat, one should always slow down so one does not create a horrendous wake. Overtaking at high speed can not only disturb other boat users, but also their dinner, drink or games. Even when being overtaken by another, bigger boat, you sometimes have to slow down yourself. Moreover, when overtaking a sail boat, be sure to block its wind as little as possible. As for anchoring, you should always approach the anchoring spot slowly not to disturb the people aboard other anchored boats, if they are present. Anchor Courteously. Unlike cars parked neatly side by side, anchored boats and yachts pivot around the anchor and occupy large circles centered around their anchors. Anywhere these circles overlap, there is a risk of collision. So make sure you know what you are doing. You should also think about the amount of noise, smoke, smell you are planning to produce, and lower the anchor at an appropriate distance from other boats.



An important part of boating etiquette, and something actually bound to legal norms, is flag protocol. Boats larger than the absolute minimum size always carry at least one flag. The national flag of the country were the boat is registered always has to be present when people are on board, except during the night, when the flag has to be taken in. The national flag has to be attached to a mast at the back, or aft, of the boat. The flag must be clean, with bright, unbleached colors and cannot hang in the water.

Besides the national flag, there are also club flags, which show allegiance to a certain organization, the so-called “jack” flags, which are a special kind of marine variant of the national flag and which are used mostly when boats are not underway, and the courtesy flag, which is used when visiting another country and is a small version of the national flag of the country you are visiting.