Follow us on Social Media

Ten Things That Annoy Boat Owners

If you ask me, boaters are some of the best people in the world.  I’m not sure why, but they are.  Maybe it is because they have more fun than most people or maybe it is because they don’t worry themselves with trivial issues such as getting their wills together before they die.  After all, the only thing that will be left is a well-used boat, a few life jackets, a pair of flip flops and some sunglasses.  Even the nicest people, however can get annoyed sometimes.  For the typical boater, the source of annoyance typically comes from those who do not understand the boating lifestyle.  It doesn’t mean the offender is a bad person.  They just need to learn a few things.

Here are 10 things that are sure to annoy the average boater:

1.        Showing Up Late – You invite some friends out for a day on the water.  Everyone is there, ready to go . . . except for one person.  Now you are all sitting there waiting for him/her to show up before the fun can start.  A day of fun on the water can’t start until you leave the dock and if you are still sitting there waiting on one of your crew, it can be irritating.  Remember, It’s not a back yard barbecue where you can show up when you want.  It’s also a good way to get left on land.  

Showing up late may get you left on land.

2.       Distracting the Captain at the Wrong Time – Generally, under normal conditions, operating a boat is not that difficult and it is pretty easy to carry on a conversation while at the helm as long as you are paying attention.  The most difficult part of handling a boat is backing into the slip at a dock or putting it onto a trailer at the end of the day.  This is not the time to try and carry on a conversation with your captain.  He/she is trying to concentrate on what they are doing.  The words can wait.  There is a common saying in the boating world. . . “I’m sorry for what I said while trying to dock the boat.”  This is the time when tensions can be high.  Take heed.  

Boating can be very relaxing . . . except when docking.

3.       Ignoring the Rules of the Head – In case you didn’t know it, when you are on a boat, the bathroom is called the head.  Most captains have rules concerning the head.  The biggest rule is that you should NEVER put feminine products in the head.  Typically, other stuff like paper towels and chewing gum do not do well either.  Doing so can result in someone (usually the boat owner) having to put on a pair of rubber gloves to go in and clear the offending object.  This can result in you getting banned for life!!! Most boat owners also restrict use of the head to  . . er . . um . .#1 only.  It is also a good rule to use the restroom on land before you even get on the boat.  You see, the more the head is used, the more often it has to be emptied.  I have not met anyone yet who likes that job.

4.       Leaving a Mess – It’s a given that boating and fun go hand in hand.  For me and my passengers, that also means there will be food and drink as part of our day on the water.  This inevitably leads to empty bottles and cans and other trash that needs to be disposed of.  A good way to not get invited back on my boat is to leave at the end of the day without cleaning up your mess. 

5.       Being in a Hurry to Disembark – Often times, I will back my boat into the slip and I already have passengers standing up and grabbing their gear to get off the boat.  I have to tell them to wait until I have gotten the lines tied and the boat is secure before it is safe for them to step onto the dock.  Having people standing up on deck makes it more difficult for the captain and crew to get the boat properly secured.  It’s best to stay out of the way until you are cleared to step onto the dock. 

6.       Bringing Extra Passengers – If a boater invites you out on the water for the day, that means YOU are invited.  It doesn’t mean you and your four other friends.  Every boat owner has a specific number of people that they are comfortable with having on their boat.  That number may have nothing to do with the capacity of the boat.  Just because a boat can safely carry 10 individuals, does not mean that an owner wants that many people aboard.  Realistically, my boat can carry many more people that I prefer to have because I personally just don’t like my passengers and crew to feel like a can of sardines while we are spending time on the water.  In addition, it is a safety issue.  A captain is required, among other things, to ensure that there is a proper life jacket on board for every passenger.  If you would like to bring some additional passengers, it’s simple.  Just ask.  

7.       Trying to Change the Vibe – A boater inviting you out for a day on the water is very much like a person inviting you into their home.  If you visit someone’s home, you don’t ask them to change the music they are playing, close the drapes or turn the lights on/off etc.  Don’t do those types of things when you step onto someone’s boat.  For us, our boat is our place of peace and happiness.  Everything from the music we are playing to the speed at which we cruise across the water sets a tone that we enjoy and we are trying to share that with our invited guests.  Sit back and enjoy our hospitality.  If we are comfortable with allowing you to modify the vibe, we will offer you the opportunity to do so.

8.       Wear the Right Shoes – I have a boat, not a superyacht.  Ladies, please don’t show up wearing 4 inch heels.  Boat shoes, sneakers, even flip flops are good but leave the heels at home.  Also, be aware that some captains prefer that you remove your shoes before stepping aboard their boat.  Be observant.  If you see shoes sitting on the dock next to the boat, that is a good indicator that you need to take yours off too.  If you are not sure, ask. 

9.       Follow Directions – If a boat owner gives you instructions, you should follow them.  Unless they are a new boater, they have probably already spent many days on the water and are aware of the potential challenges of spending the day on their boat.  Recently, I had some passengers aboard that wanted to lay on the bow of the boat and get some sun.  I told them that was fine and as they headed forward, I suggested that they not take their cell phones because the bow of my boat is sloped and there is a risk of them falling in the water.  They assured me that they would hold on to them and it would be okay.  Several minutes later, a commotion erupted up front and I looked up just in time to see two phones slide off the starboard side into the water.  I managed to avoid saying “I told you so”.  Even more importantly, if you get into a precarious situation such as a storm while out on the water, be sure to follow the captain’s instructions as they may be for your own safety. 

10.  Not Keeping Your Hands Off – To a non-boater, the helm of a boat, especially a larger boat, can look pretty interesting.  There are gauges and switches and levers that you do not find in a car.  It’s natural to be curious about what they all are for and how they work but please don’t touch them without asking.  At best, you could just change a setting that is just a captain’s preference.  At worst, you might do something like cut the anchor loose!  Usually, if someone shows an interest or asks questions about how things work on my boat, I will let them take the helm for a bit on the way back in.  

Unless you are authorized, its best to keep your hands off.

Well, there you have it.  Ten ways you can avoid annoying the captain so you can be invited out on the water again.  If you are a boat owner, maybe you should send this article to your passengers before they come out to your boat.  Of course, an easier way to handle this would be to give what I call “the captain’s talk” before leaving the dock.  Whenever you have new guests aboard, consider giving them a short talk to let them know the basics for your boat (especially the location of life jackets) before you leave the dock.  This will make life better for both captain and crew and set you up for a happy voyage. 

Happy Boating

Captain Frank.

Don't forget to subscribe so you will be notified everytime a new article is published.


  1. TRUE WORDS! Regarding the head - if you’re body didn’t create it, don’t put it in the hole!

    I’ve also learned in the 2.5 years i’ve been a nervous first mate - you cannot be thin-skinned when cappy is docking. First two times, I stormed off cursing & vowing to never get back on that god forsaken vessel LOL. Now I just wait until we’re back on land and give “constructive communication feedback” ;)

    1. I have often wondered what the best words are for explaining the use of the head. I think I will borrow yours from now on. Well said!

    2. Best way to say it is "If you didnt eat it, or drink i t, it doesnt go in the toilet

    3. I'm a guy, and I pee like most guys - standing up. But on a boat in a seaway, that's a technique that is almost a guarantee that someone will have to wipe pee up off the floor the walls, the toilet seat, and the lid. And it's never the person who did it who ends up having to clean it. In spite of asking guests to please sit for all toilet activities if the boat is in motion and the sea is up, no one pays any attention to that request!

  2. What gives me the grunts is ,big displacement power boats creating tidal waves of wash while they power past your yacht as close as they can causing sail flogging and huge hobby horsing in their wake , have a bit of common sense power down in close quarters and In vast water areas you have plenty of room not cruise by at arms length

    1. There is nothing that shows your lack of experience as a boater more than to put out a wake that rocks other boaters. By law you are liable for any injury or damage you cause to other boaters from your wake.

  3. Much appreciated such a great amount for this data. I need to tell you I agree on a few of the focuses you make here and others might require some further survey, however I can see your perspective.

  4. A few boats are not intended to adapt to the solid UV and the pungent water on the ocean. Sunseeker Manhattan 66

  5. Love this article! Useful and informative. looking forward to see more like this. Also check this out Register Boat Under Polish Flag. Thank you.

  6. The spotless, secure, and dry units are great for your boats.
    Midland RV & Boat Storage

  7. North Tahoe Boat Rentals made our lake day unforgettable! The process of renting was smooth, and the staff was friendly and helpful. We opted for a pontoon boat, and it was clean, well-maintained, and spacious. The breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe combined with a reliable rental service from North Tahoe Boat Rentals made our experience truly exceptional. Can't wait to book with them again!"


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hydrolock - What is it and How to Prevent it. (Written by Captain Frank Taylor)

Do It Yourself - Fixing a Shower Sump on Your Boat

Boating Maintenance Items That are Commonly Ignored