The Most Important Rules of Etiquette for Attending Boat Shows

Rules to Follow at a Local Boat Show

Attending a boat show can be a great way to discover the latest boat models and figure out what you're looking for in your next vessel purchase. You may even be able to find steep discounts, enabling you to get a boat you otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.

But if you want to make the most of this event, it's important to follow the basic rules of etiquette that tacitly underline it.

Let’s review some of the most important aspects.

Be as Prepared as Possible

Don't go into a boat show completely blind. If you're just there for amusement, or if you're accompanying someone else in their boat buying journey, this might be permissible. But if you're trying to buy a boat, or even simply gather information about potential boats to purchase, it pays to be as prepared as possible. Most people at the boat show are going to be warm and friendly, regardless of your intentions or existing level of knowledge, but if you're more prepared, you'll be in a better position to make a deal – and you'll make a better impression.

Spend some time thinking about your boat-related goals, your budget, and the types of boats you're most interested in. You don't have to know all the answers to all the questions, but you should have at least some consideration and research to bring to the table.

Be Ready to Learn

Whether you’re still figuring out what, exactly, a yacht is, or you’re a seasoned boating enthusiast with decades of experience under your belt, there’s something you can learn at a boat show. If you adopt a mindset of learning, you'll be in a much better position to get value from other attendees, salespeople, and various other authorities. If you're closed off, or if you're unwilling to learn new things, you may end up sabotaging yourself or making a poor impression.

Always Ask Permission Before Boarding a Boat

Boat shows are usually filled with interesting vessels for you to explore, and the people showing them are typically more than willing to have you board them and tour them. However, it's a measure of good etiquette to always ask permission before boarding any boat. It's a gesture of respect and it gives the shower an opportunity to disclose any specific rules or preferences that apply to the vessel.

Wear Easily Removable Shoes (and Remove Them)

It's a general best practice to remove your shoes before boarding any boat, under any circumstances, as certain types of shoes may scuff or damage the deck. It's even more important to follow this rule at a boat show, where salespeople are trying to sell these vessels and many people are boarding them throughout the day.

It's a good idea to wear shoes that are easily removable, since you'll probably be taking them off and putting them on throughout the day. There's no need to ask first; just assume that everyone is going to prefer your shoes off when boarding the vessel.

Don’t Use the Onboard Bathrooms

Many of the boats you tour are going to have onboard bathrooms, and some of them are going to look quite comfortable. However, you shouldn't use these bathrooms or even ask permission to use them. There are going to be publicly accessible bathrooms ashore, so use those instead.

Don’t Eat Onboard

It's also a good idea to avoid eating or drinking onboard a vessel you're trying to tour. You may be a very clean, polite eater, but most salespeople are going to prefer that you keep these messy materials away from the ship. Finish your snacks before boarding.

Mind the Kids

Typically, kids are welcome at boat shows. In fact, many boat shows enthusiastically encourage people to bring their kids, since a big draw for boating is participating in a shared family activity. However, it's important to be mindful of your kids and prevent them from violating other rules of etiquette.

Additionally, you need to keep your children's safety in mind. If the boat show is being held on or near floating docks, be aware that strollers are generally not allowed. And make sure all of your kids are equipped with properly fitted lifejackets if they're going to be on or around the water.

Be Prepared for Sun in the Outdoors

If the boat show is being hosted outdoors, pay attention to the weather and be prepared for intense sunlight.

  • Wear light clothes. It's a good idea to wear lightly coloured clothes, rather than dark clothes, since these clothes are more reflective and better capable of keeping you cool.
  • Use sunscreen. Wear sunscreen on any exposed portions of your body, and verify the SPF is high enough to grant you full UV protection.
  • Bring sunglasses and a hat. You should also bring sunglasses and a hat for both UV protection and personal comfort.

Other Keys to Getting More Value Out of Boat Shows

If you're looking for other ways to get more value out of the boat shows you attend, consider the following:

  • Don’t be pressured to buy. You can come to a boat show prepared to buy, but don't let anyone pressure you into buying something, especially if you're early in the research stage.
  • Take notes. Bring a notepad or take lots of pictures and voice notes; this is an incredible place for information gathering if you know how to properly harness it.
  • Negotiate if you are buying. If you do want to buy a vessel here, be prepared to negotiate. Strong negotiation can help you get a much better deal.
  • Consider booking an appointment. Boat shows can be busy events and the salespeople might not be able to provide tours to everyone who wants one. They may need to prioritise serious buyers over casual viewers. To avoid disappointment, consider contacting the brokers/dealers of the boats you’d like to view to get an appointment in advance.

Boat shows are excellent places to see a wide variety of vessels up close and in person. But boat shows are inherently limited; you can often find an even wider selection of vessels to buy online.

Case in point, TheYachtMarket has thousands of new and used vessels for sale that you can explore. Take a look and find your next boat today!

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