May 13, 2020

Helping out is not optional. You have a responsibility when you boat.

Asking for Help

Offer to help catch the dock lines of a vessel coming to a dock; however, if the captain or crew wave you off, respect that they have a method and aren’t looking for assistance. If you’re on the ocean, stopping to assist a vessel in distress (or at least offering to relay messages to authorities or rescue agencies) is necessary—you’re legally obligated to render assistance so long as you don’t imperil yourself or your vessel.

VHF Radio Conduct

VHF channel 16 is for hailing and distress calls. Don’t use it for extended chats with other boaters. Once you’ve contacted another vessel ask them to switch to another frequency to continue the conversation. Making a false distress call is against the law. Keep kids off the radio because it’s not a toy.

Frequently Asked Questions on Boating Etiquette

What should I do if I’m a guest on a boat and I feel seasick?

First, tell someone, primarily the captain. Second, don’t go below because that will make it worse. Third, try to lie down or look at the horizon and breathe deeply. There’s no shame in getting seasick but it can be a dangerous condition that makes you weak and disoriented.

When should a Mayday call be made?

Mayday is a distress call that is a request for assistance. It should be made only if there is immediate danger to life, property or the environment. If you’ve run out of gas but are otherwise okay, don’t call a Mayday on the radio. Contact a vessel towing organization or the Coast Guard to relay a request for assistance.