On Board Guest Etiquette

Whenever you invite guests aboard for the day, a weekend or an extended cruise, you should explain to them in advance what is expected of them, especially if they are not experienced boaters. If they are expected to perform duties onboard make sure they know this (and how to do it) before you give the order to swab the deck or handle lines. If you have special “rules” regarding behavior on your boat (smoking, drinking, etc.), let them know before they arrive.

Instruct your guests to bring a minimum of clothing appropriate for the climate in which you will be operating as well as your final destination. Make sure each guest has a good pair of non-skid deck shoes. If your plans are to go ashore for activities other than lying on the beach, make sure they bring something more appropriate than a swimsuit and thongs. Explain the problem of limited space on your boat and ask them to pack their gear in a duffel bag or other soft-sided and collapsible luggage.

If you are planning to visit foreign ports, be sure to let your guests know in advance what documents and ID they need to bring and make them aware of any local customs they should know about.

When quests arrive, assign a locker to each where they may stow their gear and make clear that everything should be kept in its assigned place. It could be dangerous or impair the operation of your boat to have clothing and other gear floating around loose.

Make sure your guests know that your times of departure are based on tide, current, weather conditions and time to make the next destination. You should explain that they should be onboard, have gear stowed and be ready to leave well before the departure time you have set.

Explain also that the time to rise and shine is based on the convenience of everyone aboard and the cruising plans for the day. You, as skipper, should be the first to rise and the others should follow shortly after. Make guests aware of the limited washing and toilet facilities on the boat and instruct them to be time considerate to others. Also instruct them thoroughly on the use of the marine head and the importance of water conservation when cruising between destinations. Make clear, also, when you announce in the evenings that it is time to retire everyone should do so.

Familiarize your guests with safety and emergency procedures before leaving the dock. Explain fueling procedures, docking and undocking plans, etc. Make sure someone onboard is able to take over for you and operate the VHF radio to ask for help should you become disabled.

By being up front, honest and direct with your guests everyone onboard will have a safe and more pleasurable trip.

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating Safety

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