Been invited on a boat? Follow our simple guide to ensure your first time is not your last

With a packed sailing schedule on the horizon and (hopefully) an invite or two out on the water to look forward to, now is the time to brush up on the dos and don’ts before you step onboard. Cement your status as the perfect guest by familiarising yourself with the eight golden rules of boat etiquette. You’re welcome.

Be grateful
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 a buffoon at a frat party. There’s a certain degree of gauche swagger that some people adopt when stepping onto an impressive boat. Be sure to remember that your hosts have gone to some sort of effort for you, so be appreciative and impressed, this is not the moment to be nonchalant.

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Leave the shoes behind 
Yes, they may well be called boat shoes, but they are not likely to see the light of day on board the boat. Be prepared that you will be asked politely to remove your shoes. Therefore, foot maintenance is a must prior to departure. And if your host requests that you wear your stilettos on board, ask to leave immediately.

The Captain is in charge
This point is non-negotiable. While he/she may not always be at the helm, they are most certainly the dictators of the day. If they ask you to move, shut up or turn the music down, do it. On that note, the Captain also chooses the music — end of story.

Regardless of whether the sun is shining or not, you will get burnt on the water. Show some respect to the boat’s owners by applying sunscreen before you embark. Sunscreen is notorious for damaging upholstery. On that note, under no circumstances, should one arrive on board with a fresh spray tan. If your tacky tan marks the upholstery, you can kiss your days on the water goodbye.

Don’t be late
There is nothing more disrespectful than arriving late, particularly when there is a race to watch. With speed limitations on Auckland’s Harbour at a 5 knot snail pace, any delays will guarantee your vessel is the last to the course, and therefore misses getting a good view of the on water action.

Bring something
While it’s most likely that the entire day will be catered for, including food and beverages, it is just polite common decency to turn up with a bottle of something decent to thank your host for the trouble and expense they have gone to having you on board.

Pack the right clothing
Some may be surprised to learn that sailing is a high wind stakes sport, not a day of sunbathing and swilling cocktails in a gentle breeze. Come prepared for cold blustery winds, rain and a decent amount of sunshine.

Dropping the kids off at the pool
A sensitive subject for all on board. The best approach here is to ensure you have made all practical efforts to disembark your own personal bodily issues prior to boarding the boat. If this is not the case, be sure to follow the instructions for the boat’s toilet use. While number ones are acceptable and inescapable after plenty of drinking, number twos have been known to cause catastrophic outcomes for all involved. You have been warned.


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