You know the one: the guy other boaters grumble about and don’t like because he carelessly speeds past, jolting other boats with his wake. Or he selfishly takes his time at the boat ramp while a line of other boaters are waiting to hit the water.

But there’s no reason to be “That Guy.” It’s easy for boaters to get along and share the water by understanding some basic boating etiquette.


  1. Limit your time on the boat ramp. Whether you’re launching your boat or loading it back on the trailer, be quick and efficient at the boat ramp. Other boaters will likely need to use the ramp, so be courteous and limit your time on it. Anything that can be done away from the ramp, such as loading your boat, should be done away from the ramp. The same rules apply at the fuel dock.
  2. Be mindful of your wake. When you’re navigating a small or crowded area like a channel, anchorage or mooring field, it’s your responsibility to keep your wake under control. If you throw up a sizeable wake, not only can it rudely disturb other boaters, it can sometimes cause damage to other boats – damage that you’re responsible for.
  3. Be courteous when overtaking or being overtaken. When you are overtaking another boat, provide as much room as possible between you and the slower boat so as to avoid having your wake rock and disturb it. Also, if you’re being overtaken by another boat, be willing to slow down if necessary to make it easier. It’s not a race.
  4. Respect others in an anchorage. Always enter an anchorage slowly, so as not to disturb other boaters. The first boat in the anchorage gets to determine swing radius. Follow the lead of the boats that are already there when tying off, anchoring and determining how much line to use. Try to keep noise down so as not to disturb other boaters. If you think your crew will be on the louder side, give yourself plenty of room between your boat and others.
  5. Don’t make a mess of the dock. When you tie up at a dock, remember that other people need to walk along that dock. Make sure your lines are not strewn across the dock, creating a tripping hazard. Also, be sure not to leave your gear all over the dock.