Some may underestimate the importance of proper yachting etiquette, but following simple rules can be a matter of safety as well as respect. When chartering a yacht, you may feel luxuriously spoiled, as the crew’s number one goal is to please you. Even though they are there to “serve” you, remember, they are not your “servants.” …
1. Ask permission to come aboard
Stepping on board a yacht is much like entering someone’s home. You would never enter without first ringing the bell or knocking and waiting for someone to invite you in. The same courtesy applies when boarding your chartered yacht. It is considered proper etiquette to ask the captain for permission to board.
2. Remove shoes when boarding
The yacht you have chartered is owned and maintained by someone who probably takes great pride in their investment. The deck surface is generally highly polished with varnish, and can be easily marred and damaged by the bottom of your Manolo heels or Testoni shoes. When you return to the boat from a sightseeing excursion or a trip to the beach, it is important to be aware that your feet or shoes do not have oil, grease, tar, or sand that can be tracked back onto the yacht. Canvas shoes or deck shoes are a great option.
3. Bring soft luggage
Unlike The Plaza or The Ritz-Carlton, most yachts do not have lavish, full-size closets to store your clothes. As a result, it would not be realistic to bring three large steamer trunks. As a courtesy to the other guests, the crew, and the lack of space, pack lightly in soft luggage that can be easily stowed aboard the yacht.
4. Don’t overindulge during Happy Hour
One of the perks of a charter vacation is that you may enjoy “Happy Hour” aboard the vessel or on the shores of an exotic island with the locals. You may meet someone from another chartered vessel or from the village where you have anchored whom you wish to invite on board. Whether it is for one cocktail or to show off the yacht you’ve chartered, etiquette and protocol dictate that you first ask the captain’s permission.
5. Keep the noise level down
There is nothing as soothing as the sound of waves gently hitting the side of a boat as you relax on deck or drift off to sleep. To have that calm rudely interrupted by the sounds of loud voices and blasting music can cause anyone to lose their cool. As sound can clearly travel from one end of the yacht to the other, there is a chance that your comments may reach the ears of others… this is a fatal faux pas that could cause tension for the rest of the voyage.
6. Don’t enter the galley unless specifically invited
It is exciting to inspect the yacht on which you are sailing. Don’t barge in and expect to be greeted with open arms, especially when meals are being prepared. Just as we would not like to be disturbed when preparing a meal for an elaborate dinner party, the same holds true of those in the galley. Ask for permission and find out when would be a good time for you to take a tour.
7. Don’t waste fresh water
There is nothing like a cold, refreshing glass of ice water when you’ve been in the sun all day. On a yacht, there are a certain number of gallons of fresh water aboard. Running out of fresh water can be quite serious, not to mention potentially fatal. It is important that each guest aboard respect the regulations regarding the use of fresh water. Many charters have rules about washing your hair with fresh water and permission is sometimes granted only from your captain. Of course, there is no limit to the amount of salt water that may be used.
8. Follow the head instructions
Believe it or not, there is an etiquette regarding the marine toilet…also known as “the head.” Clogging the head will not only cause you much embarrassment, but will inconvenience the crew and fellow guests as well. If you are unfamiliar with how to operate the head, take a minute and ask a crew member. If you do indeed clog the head, it may be necessary for a crew member to disassemble and unclog it. It has been said that you may put anything into a marine toilet as long as it has been ingested first; except for a miniscule amount of toilet paper.
9. Obey the captain
The captain of your chartered yacht is responsible for the well-being and safety of each person aboard. Just like a scout leader or teacher, the captain has final say over almost everything on the boat. There is nothing you can do about it, but respect the rules.
10. Tip the crew
It is considered proper etiquette to tip your crew from 10?15% of the charter fee based upon services rendered. It is customary for the charter party to leave the gratuity with the captain, with suggestions on how it should be distributed. Remember, during your stay aboard the yacht, the crew has been your navigation team, wait staff, bartender, gourmet chef, and housekeeper. Not to mention, dinghy driver, tour guide, diving instructor, backgammon opponent, etc. Take all of the above into account when determining your tip.