When it comes to boating, it can be challenging for many to follow simple etiquette. Much like golf, simple rules can be followed to allow everyone to have a safe and enjoyable day. In the southern states like Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, boating is nearly year-round. Following simple procedures will help keep people and pets safe. What are the five easy steps for boating etiquette.

Why is boating etiquette important?

The most important reason that boating etiquette is important is safety. Nobody wants an injury due to poor decisions or reckless boating. Keep in mind that it is not always the cautious boater who causes harm. Other boats in the vicinity are often careless and don’t follow common sense and navigational rules. 

The boat ramp

One of the most prevalent places that boaters don’t follow etiquette is at the boat ramp. Boat ramps are typically crowded places with many moving vehicles and vessels. 

Some will take considerable amounts of time when launching and retrieving a boat. Be patient with people who are inexperienced and know that you were once in their shoes. 

Proper boat ramp etiquette 

Some boaters are not prepared before they come to the ramp, and fellow boaters lose patience. Test your boat before you back it down the ramp and have your gear on board, so you take minimal time in the launch lane. However, don’t rush it. 


You have seen before, someone goes cruising by another vessel that is either much smaller in size, has a mechanical issue, or at anchor and causes a massive and dangerous wake. More risk is involved than jolting the boat violently and possibly injuring someone. The more concerning situation is a swamped boat.

Wake control etiquette

Never do you want someone to be waked however some boaters chose to anchor in or along a channel and ask for it when they can go elsewhere in a more protected area. If someone is in an area that waking can be avoided, it should. Either steer clear or slow down. 


Lakes, rivers, and coastal waters have a significant amount of fishermen. The sport grows year after year. A considerable amount of boat traffic is of those who are engaged in fishing. They can be trolling along slowly, anchored, or drifting. 

Etiquette when operating a boat near fisherman

First, avoid waking them allow distance when passing. Secondly, don’t fly through an area of fishing boats because it can disturb the fish, particularly on lakes with a lot of boat traffic the fish will be extra finicky. Lastly, look out for lines dragging behind the boat, or you will have a propeller wrapped in fishing line. 


When we go to a new area with a boat, we want to take in the beauty of the water and surrounding shoreline. The experience can put the operator into a daze and lead to a potentially dangerous situation. 

Sightseeing etiquette

Keep your eyes on the water. Don’t be that person who isn’t following the rules of the road because you’re just not paying attention. Crossing situations and fellow boaters engaging in water activities like tubing can turn deadly. Keep a sharp lookout and switch on and off with another qualified driver to catch a glimpse of the scenery. 


It’s no easy feat when it comes to docking, particularly in coastal areas with strong tides. Even the most experienced boater can be challenged navigating a boat safely to the dock. This step isn’t so much about getting to the dock it’s once you’re at the dock. One common lack of courtesy is leaving your boat in a position that does not allow for other boaters to utilize the space. 

Etiquette for docking

Don’t secure the boat so that it is not pulled to one end or the other, leaving room for other vessels to use the dock. Also, avoid overstaying your welcome. Restaurant dockage can be limited. No need to sit tie up the spot any longer than what is necessary. 

So it’s time to put boating etiquette into action

Following these five steps will increase everyone’s safety and help avoid getting yelled at by a fellow boater. Drop the craft in the water and head out for the day with increased awareness to help steer clear of being labeled a weekend warrior because nobody wants that title.