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Yacht Etiquette: Tips How to Behave on a Sailing Vacation

Sailing vacation could be a vacation of a lifetime for you if you respect boat rules and yacht etiquette. For those who are first time sailing, yacht etiquette are unwritten sailing standards of polite behaviour in the world of yachting. You don’t need to have any sailing skills because you can always hire a skipper, but you must know how to behave.

Sailing yacht on anchorage in a bay on Adriatic

Here are top tips to follow on your sailing vacation:

Yacht etiquette on board

  • The captain is always right – if you are sailing with a skipper give him full respect. He is in charge of the yacht and his job is to ensure the care and safety of all the people on a yacht, so listen to what he has to say.
  • Discuss important info before the sailing – appropriate behaviour, safety and emergency procedures.
  • Research and learn before you come on a yacht – if you are a guest without sailing experience check basic things about the yacht you will be sailing with, and a few nautical terms.
  • Bring suitable luggage – the space you have on a yacht is limited, so make sure you bring suitable soft luggage. It can move around easily and it isn’t difficult to store. Check here what to pack for yachting holidays.
  • Treat the yacht as a home – don’t leave your stuff around, keep things tidy and out of the way.
  • Share duties – everybody on the yacht should have their tasks and obligations, and complete them, so everyone could have a perfect sailing vacation.
  • Don’t throw garbage in the sea – we all must do our part in keeping our seas clean for future generations.
  • Help other sailors – you are legally obligated to offer assistance to the boat in distress while still ensuring the safety of your boat and crew. The least you can do is to offer to contact authorities or a rescue agency.
  • Learn the rules of the road – if you are a skipper, you must know the accepted system of the right of way and follow it. It is not only about the social norms but it is also about safety and preventing boat accidents.
  • Be aware of others at a fuel dock – move out of the way so others get their turn.
  • Respect the others in the harbour – don’t make to much noise, give others enough distance and keep the area around you clean.
  • Don’t use the outboard engine if you are using dinghy at night – use oars instead so you won’t disturb others, and speak softly.

Children jumping in the sea from the yacht on a sailing vacation in Croatia


Anchoring yacht etiquette

  • Enter the anchorage or a mooring area at a slow speed – you don’t want to create a wake, and there could be people swimming or snorkelling.
  • Follow the other boats – in how you tie off, anchor and how much space you leave between you and other boats.
  • Respect your neighbours – it isn’t polite to talk too loud, to play loud music, or to run a generator very early in the morning or late at night.
  • Help others – if you are docking, catch the dock lines of an arriving boat.
  • Bring something if you are invited on another boat – drinks, something to eat and share.

Yachts on anchorage in a cove on Adriatic following the rules of the yacht etiquette


Sailing vacation is an amazing experience, but you must know what are the dos and the don’ts before you come on a yacht. Be considerate of others, be polite, respect others, their space and their needs. Most of the sailors are friendly and like to share information, so ask if you are not sure how to act. On the other hand, if someone is bothering you and breaking the rules of yacht etiquette, there is nothing wrong with letting them know that.

Yachting is a totally different social environment but the rules of yacht etiquette are quite simple. If you follow them, together with common sense, it will help you have a perfect sailing vacation.

Child on sailing yacht in sunset on a sailing vacation in Croatia

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