An image of boats docked up side-by-side.

Each boater has their own unique way of doing things. Many of us have traditions passed down for generations, and we like doing things our way. But following basic boat etiquette helps make life better for those around you.

Boating Habits to Avoid at All Costs

Unspoken waterway rules create the peaceful environment we all look forward to enjoying. To maintain that feeling for yourself, your guests, and your neighbors, do your best to avoid these notoriously bad boating habits:

Ignoring slow zones.

You might feel cool revving your engine, but your water neighbors feel differently. Pay attention to the wake you’re creating and how it affects others. It’s your job to know the wake limitations and follow them.

Banging the dock with your boat.

Now, this is just common sense and common boat etiquette. Instead of ramming into the dock, try to glide in gently. If you’re watching someone struggling to dock, gently offer your support. They might be new to the world of boating and need some guidance.

This is a good time to remind you that, once docked, turn your motor off. This cuts down on unnecessary pollution (and unwanted gasoline smells).

Being an inconsiderate neighbor.

Sound travels faster on water, so be mindful of your noise levels. You can always position yourself downwind to help direct the sound of music and smells of cooking away from others!


This is a big one. We share the water, and when you litter, it’s a sign of disrespect. No one wants to see – or get tangled up – in your discarded trash. Keep a garbage bag on your boat and dispose of it properly in a trash can when you get back to shore.

“Studies have shown that more than 267 species of marine organisms are known to ingest or have become entangled in marine debris” [Environmental Protection Agency].

Letting your boat get excessively dirty.

Not only is it an eyesore, but lurking microorganisms and hidden aquatic hitchhikers can be harmful, especially if visiting a new body of water. Make sure you’re cleaning your boat regularly and rinsing cleaning products thoroughly before you take her out again.

Pro-tip: When you see a dirty boat out on the water, give it plenty of space. If it looks that way on the outside, imagine what the inside looks like. You don’t want to be too close if it suddenly malfunctions.

Skipping the rules.

If you have guests on your boat, tell them the rules before you head out. You should also have them posted somewhere visible. This can eliminate tensions or misunderstandings when you’re on the water and need to concentrate.

Ignoring other boaters.

Alright, so this one won’t affect boating safety, but when another boat passes you, give them a wave. It helps promote camaraderie and community on the water. Plus, you never know when you may need their help.

Waterways For All

Now you have boating etiquette tips to help you stay popular out on the water. Want more professional boating insights? At Smooth Moves Boat Seats, we’ve got plenty.

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