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Boat Etiquette

These thoughts are from a long time boat owner/Coxswain. They are offered for guidance.


When you are invited on a boat, remember you are invited only as a guest, even though you are part of a crew.


  • When under orders, you must wear the uniform as prescribed by the skipper and or the controlling station.


  • At all times, you should wear non-marring boat shoes on a boat.


  • Make sure you are on time, or show up 10 to 15 minutes before. There is always something else to do.


  • Remember USCG policy is that all crew regardless of gender are to be treated equally.  There are no tasks on board that are to be treated as traditionally male or female roles.  Tasks are shared equally.  Should there be a woman member on board, she is not automatically the cook, and bottle washer. She is on board in the same capacity as you.  This is a 2 way street.


  • Before you come on board for a lengthy patrol, ask about the meals, should you bring your own, or share in the expenses.


  • Same goes for refreshments, ask! If you like to have a favorite beverage, bring it with you, and bring enough so you can share. This goes for training during the warmer month also.  Remember, alcohol may not be consumed while on patrol, or 12 hours prior to the patrol.


  • Whatever food or drink you bring aboard, tradition has it, it stays aboard.


  • Be careful and treat a boat as it where your own. Don’t leave ½ full cups or glasses standing around, the first wake you hit will stain a carpet and you have a very unhappy skipper on your hands.


  • A crew is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.  If you don’t know something, then ask how to do it.  If you need a second opinion, then ask again. Remember there are no dumb questions, just dumb people that don’t ask them.


  • Be prepared to stay out longer than first thought, an emergency could always develop, we have means to notify yours at home.


  • When you come back to the dock, help to tidy up the boat. Break out the water hose and give the boat a wash down. Or use the vacuum to leave the boat as you found it.


  • Help with stowing the gear, the skipper is just as tired as you.


  • It never hurts to have a critique at the end of the patrol, speak up and give your input we all may learn from your thoughts.


  • When you use a boat ladder, face the ladder going up, but definitely face the ladder coming down, or you will fall and ruin your day and the boat.


These items are not written in any of our training manuals, and most are not written into USCG policy, but you should take them to heart.




JKN 2000 revised 2007 (15)