Boat Etiquette – Proper Etiquette on a Charter Boat
No two charter boats are alike so gaining experience with one operation doesn’t fully prepare you for diving with another. Here are a few pointers from experienced charter captains to make your trip more enjoyable.
Before booking your charter you should have an understanding of what you expect. A bluewater trip is vastly different than a reef trip so discuss your expectations before booking but understand that weather and conditions can change and, rather than cancel, the destination and goals may change.
Dive Charter Flexibility
Be flexible. Understand there may be different levels of skill and experience. Unless you book a trip specific to your skill level you may be diving sites shallower or deeper than you wish.
Don’t bring every piece of gear you own. You should only bring what you will reasonably need. They appreciate that you have six custom spearguns but you don’t need them all on a 6 hour trip. Be aware of the room you take up on the boat. Pick up after yourself. The captain and crew generally arrive hours before the charter and will be cleaning and maintaining the boat for an hour after you end you day. Don’t stuff your food wrappers and water bottles under the gunnels or throw them in the ice chest for the crew to have to sort.
Speaking of the ice chest, rule of thumb is if you put your water, beer, sodas (or Whiteclaw) in the cooler then it stays there at the end of the day. If you bring 32 beers and drink 3 then you’ve donated 29 beers to the cause. If you don’t like it then bring only what you need. Water is generally supplied but ASK before drinking anything else that doesn’t belong to you. Take your food home.
Take Directions From the Crew
LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS. The captain and crew have repeated the way they operate their boat a thousand times prior to giving todays briefing so expect to be told once nicely, after that it doesn’t have to be nice. They are responsible for your safety and that of the other clients, the crew, and the boat. It doesn’t matter if you have a boat, you do it a different way on another boat, or you don’t agree. Follow the boat rules. Even on small boats there is a hierarchy designed for the welfare of everyone onboard. The captain is responsible for everyone and everything on the boat so his word is the law. You’ve never seen a suggestion box on a charter boat, take that as a clue.
Tipping on a Charter Boat
Captaining and crewing a dive boat is a great job most of the time. We take the good with bad and try to provide a safe, fun, and productive trip. It’s a hard job all of the time. Consider that at the end of the day when it comes time to tip. Its difficult to gauge what an “appropriate” tip is but consider what you would give the guy at the air-conditioned steakhouse who told you what a good choice you made, carried your food to the table, and refilled your over-priced wine. Tip accordingly.