How to Behave on Yachts

As sailors all know there is an etiquette on board a vessel, this is mainly for safety reasons but has been gathered over centuries of naval traditions. Part of the difficulty that the non-sailing fraternity have with learning this etiquette is the terminology used on board a boat.

If you do receive an invitation to go yachting, perhaps on holiday it can be the highlight of your vacation. For our purposes we are defining yachting as a vessel with at least one crew member and a boat at least sixty feet long. This means that you will not be required to use any sailing skills, but you will need to know how to behave on board. Also, you must know the differences between a sail boat and a motor yacht.

Research Before You Sail

Try to find out some information about the type of yacht you will be stepping on board. Perhaps the manufacturer, size, or any interesting information. This way you can impress the owner when you meet him. Owners take great pride in their crafts, and if you can talk to the owner about the finer points of their boat then they will be greatly impressed.

Other Research You Need to Know

Not just to impress the owner but also for your safety on-board it is a good idea to research the following:

  • Learn some nautical terms – on-board a boat there are many nautical terms that you must know. As mentioned before this is as much to do about safety than just stopping you looking like an idiot. For instance the head is the toilet, the right hand side of the yacht is called starboard, whilst the left is called port.
  • Find out who designed the boat – if you happen to be invited on-board a specially designed boat say from Sparkman and Stephens, or Hargrave, then you should be aware of its features.
  • Praise the condition of the vessel – owners and captains are immensely proud of the condition that they keep their boats in, so praise the craft. Comment on the gleaming chrome handrails, or the marvelously varnished woodwork.
  • Comment on the itinerary of the yacht – always refer to the yacht in female terms, and ask where she is birthed, how does the owner normally use the boat.
  • Never discuss fuel economy – yachts are not like motor cars where people are interested in miles per gallon. This is quite an embarrassing question for a captain as motor yachts are notoriously uneconomical and are not the best type of transport for the planet.
  • Finally, never discuss cost – treat your invitation to go sailing as a great opportunity to get out on the water and never discuss the costs of anything on-board. 

Don’t be a Pest

Remember you are just a guest on-board the yacht and you must treat the crew with great respect and not bother them with petty requests. The crew are working, and trying to make your trip as exciting and pleasurable as possible, never abuse this. Finally, never point out any larger vessels that you may see, as you may never be invited back again.

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