The 13 Tenets of Boat Club Etiquette You Should Know

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Boat clubs can be excellent places to meet new people, learn new things, and become more connected to your local boating community. But if you want to make the best impression with your new friends, there are some important rules boat club etiquette you should know.

Learning Boat Club Etiquette

Once you have a boat club membership, these are some of the most important pieces of etiquette you'll need to follow:

  1. Understand all boat clubs are different. Before you start thinking too much about specific rules of etiquette, you should understand that all boat clubs are different. What's perfectly acceptable at one boat club may be practically forbidden at another. What one boat club member find hilarious may be offensive in another setting. Because of this, we don't have any iron rules of etiquette that are going to apply at all clubs or in all situations. You're going to be responsible for figuring out local etiquette and determining the tolerances of the people around you.
  2. Learn and respect the rules. Though this may not be qualified as etiquette, specifically, it's a good practice to learn and respect the rules that apply to your boat club. For example, when are you allowed to use the clubhouse? What kind of attire are you supposed to wear? Are you allowed to split memberships with other people? Can people outside your family use your membership? The second part of this point is that you need to respect the rules; just because you can get away with something doesn’t mean you should.
  3. Learn the traditions. It's also a good idea to learn and respect the traditions of your specific boat club. For example, is there a closing ceremony at the end of the day? Is there an opening ceremony that requires silence when new meetings begin? Are there specific flags that should be flown at specific times? The more you learn and respect these traditions, the more respect you'll receive in turn.
  4. Engage politely and respectfully. This should go without saying, but always engage politely and respectfully with other members, even if you're in the middle of a conflict or disagreement. Use your manners, remain calm, and avoid the use of loud or profane language. If you make a scene at your boat club, it doesn't matter if you're in the right or not; you're disrupting the environment.
  5. Respect seniority. To some extent, you should respect seniority. If a person has been a member of the club for many years, and you've only recently joined, you probably shouldn't be arguing with them about what the rules are or what the rules should be. That doesn't mean you need to cater to them, and it doesn't mean you're not allowed to disagree with them – you just have to respect the fact they've been here longer and have more authority in the group.
  6. Wear proper attire. We briefly mentioned this already, but always wear proper attire. There may be a dress code in place for the clubhouse or other common areas, but if there is no formal dress code, use common sense. Shirt and shoes are usually required in common areas, and if you're setting foot on someone else’s boat, be prepared to remove your shoes.
  7. Avoid inappropriate cell phone use. Using your cell phone in the clubhouse or in common areas may be seen as a breach of etiquette. If you need to take or make an important phone call, ask to be excused and separate yourself from others so you don’t run the risk of bothering them. At the very least, make sure your phone is on silent in public areas.
  8. Avoid excessive or inappropriate alcohol and tobacco use. Most boat clubs openly permit alcohol consumption and tobacco use, but these may be limited to specific areas; make sure you respect these limitations. Additionally, even if alcohol is allowed, keep your consumption in moderation. If you get too drunk, or if you start engaging in questionable behaviours after drinking, it could offend other people or make them uncomfortable.
  9. Keep the kids at home (or well-behaved). Boat clubs are usually meant for adults. If you have young children, it may be best to keep them at home. If you're allowed to bring them, and you're confident in doing so, make sure they behave themselves.
  10. Avoid bringing pets. Similarly, even if you're used to bringing your dog on your boat, it's best to keep your pets at home.
  11. Report issues promptly. If you do have issues with the club or with another member, report them promptly. Most boat clubs want to keep their members happy and want to make sure their rules are being followed at all times. Accordingly, it's partially your responsibility to uphold those rules and voice your concerns when they become apparent.
  12. Be respectful of others during busy times. You should be respectful of others at all times, but it's especially important during busy times. If there are many people waiting to launch their vessels, or if the boat club is especially crowded, consider deferring to others and staying out of the way.
  13. When in doubt, ask. Finally, if you're ever in doubt about anything, whether it's a formal rule or a local custom, ask about it. Chances are that another member or a leader within the group we'll be more than happy to address your confusion and provide you with direction on how to move forward.

Discovering Local Customs

Each individual local boat club is going to offer a unique environment, a unique assortment of members, and unique views on etiquette. Part of the fun of joining a new club is discovering how it works and why it's so unique, so take advantage of it. And if this club isn’t a good fit, you can always look for another option.

If you want to make a great impression with your new fellow boaters, or if you’re just ready to make an upgrade for yourself, you’ve come to the right place. At TheYachtMarket, we have hundreds of new and used boats for sale, from all over the United States and Europe. Browse our selection of boats for sale today, and find your next nautical inspiration!

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