Boat Etiquette

After being around boats & liveaboards for about 4 years I’ve picked up a few “lessons” while being a guest on other boats and hosting on my own. Lessons that I found were helpful to me or small gestures that were received as a tremendous thanksgiving. So let’s start this list:

Marine Toilets : Ask first.

Let’s get it out of the way, the head. A tiny child sized toilet, just enough elbow room to turn around, and a lever and various switches to flush, there is nothing about this picture that screams elegance and comfort while doing your business.  So Number 1. When onboard someones boat ask if you may use the head or if the head is working…. Don’t assume everything works perfectly. The captain might have a trick to using the toilet and by asking about the bathroom first, it might remind them to tell you of any issues before number two 

Water: Water is more valuable than fuel for a sailor.

2. Use low water pressure and as little as possible. The second most cringeworthy thing I see when on Gaia is someone washing their hands and they fling on the water and keep it running at full pressure while sudsing up. So small, I know, but please keep in mind, I pay for water, I put a bucket in the shower, I reuse water, and I don’t always know the next time I’ll be able to get water (and even if I do, I am not a fan of filling up the tanks).

Power: It’s not always there 

We have batteries to retain power, and solar panels, wind generator, and a diesel engine to fill it up. I mention diesel engine because most boats run their engines at neutral for hot water or energy…. ‘most boats’ is not Gaia. Running a diesel engine for extended periods of time isn’t the best for the system so we follow Mike’s lead and don’t do it (generally). That means if its cloudy for a few days straight with low wind…. we don’t recharge the computers on the boat, we don’t use the lights as much, we conserve conserve conserve. So, 3. if you want to recharge your phone on someone elses boat… ask first. (depending on the boat you’ll probably have to ask first regardless so as to turn on the AC inverter…)

Visiting Other Boats: Being a good little ambassador

This goes for everywhere but worth mentioning. Bonus points in being a good guest, if you bring something to share. It takes stress off the hosting boat and who doesn’t love finding a new favorite beverage or snack. Lugging groceries on the boat and trash off the boat isn’t easy, one less item to cary on is thoughtful. Also be mindful, some people are anti-clutter in small spaces.

Shoes on Deck: Watch Yo Threads Sir

Quirks. We all have them. Some people are finicky about their deck. Asking if you should remove your shoes is a nice gesture. You should take a quick look to see if you have nonskid shoes, if not… try not to pivot and skid around the deck (….?) I guess….. Just a side note, Gaia is not yachty enough to warrant this kind of gesture but it doesn’t go unnoticed. In the off chance we did just wash down the deck…. we may just tell you to remove shoes but still… it’s thoughtful.

Stress on the Boat: Easy Does It Tiger

Speaking of the deck, our starboard deck is a little soft, so tread softly. The first most cringeworthy thing I see on Gaia is when someone puts more stress than necessary on part of the boat I know is weak. As a guest, you can’t know where all the weak points of a boat is, so in general, tread lightly. Don’t throw your weight against the lifelines because they should be able to catch you. And just because the binnacle is front and center don’t go leaning all your weight against it because you don’t feel like standing anymore. Gaia, for one, is an old tired boat… be nice.