Sailing Etiquette 101 - How To Avoid Looking Like A Rookie

Sailing is one of the oldest human activities, and one of the most enjoyable on a hot summer day. As makers of non-slip boat shoes (great for those wet sailboat decks!) Froats is dedicated to making this experience as enjoyable as possible.

For sailing newbies, there can undoubtedly be some uncertainty about stepping on a dock for the first time. Sailors have their own etiquette, customs, and terminology. No need to worry though - Froats is happy to provide this quick sailing etiquette 101 - so grab your most comfortable boat shoes, and get ready to set sail.

Boat Shoes

Obviously, the most important thing on any boat is to not offend the captain - it’s by their grace that you’re on board.  The first thing the captain will be looking at when you climb aboard is your shoes.  Flip-flops are a recipe for injury, they have poor grip and don’t protect your toes from cleats and winches.  If you wear sneakers with a dark sole, the captain will likely ask you to take them off before getting on the boat to avoid marking the deck.  Non-marking sneakers are acceptable but know that you’re likely to have soggy feet all day once they get wet.  Boat shoes exist for a reason, get a pair. 

Sailing language

On deck, you need to listen to your captain. This means you need to understand what your captain is saying in the first place! 

Some common terms you might hear include:

Jibing and Tacking: This means your Captain is either turning away from the wind (Jibing) or into it (Tacking). If they tell you the “Boom is coming across” - make sure to keep your head down! This means the sail is going across the boat. Even the best non-slip boat shoes won’t save you from getting knocked into the water.

Direction: If your captain wants to point something out, it’s important to know the directions on a boat. The Bow is the front of the boat, Stern the back. Port is to the left, and Starboard is right. Going to the front on a boat means you are going “forward” - but going to the back means you are going “aft”. 

Places: A cabin is an enclosed area on a boat, and a berth is a place to sleep. If you’re heading out of the cabin onto the deck, you’re going “topside”. If you need the bathroom, you’re looking for the “head”. The captain will probably be at the “helm”, where the boat is steered from.

Boating Etiquette

Hopefully, a good captain will give you the rundown on what is the proper behavior onboard. However, if you’re going boating for the first time, there are a few things that you should know. First and foremost, always listen to your captain (or skipper). They’ll know sailing and boating best, and it’s very important to follow their instructions for your safety.

Secondly - keep things clean. Having clear boat decks is very important to avoid tripping or other hazards. Ask your captain if you need advice on where or how to store things. Always go over the safety protocols and make sure you know where important safety items are, such as life jackets or medical supplies.

Always make sure to pack your essentials for the day, but don’t go overboard on clutter! 

What to Bring

Always ask your captain what you are expected to bring before the boat trip actually begins. In general, they should have everything that is needed, but they may want you to bring some snacks, sunscreen, or drinks.  Maintaining any boat is expensive, so if you want to be invited back, bring a good bottle of rum as a gift for the captain.  Mount Gay is always acceptable, but you won’t be remembered after it’s been mixed into the sunset cocktails.  Spring for something rare from your local bottle shop and your captain will save it below and remember you when the guests are gone.

And of course, it's important to dress appropriately - for summer boating, you want shorts or swimsuits, and you should expect to get a little wet. When getting shoes, remember that the best boat shoes for men and women are generally the most comfortable and suitable leather boat shoes - you want something you can easily throw on or off. Making sure you have non-slip boat shoes is also important, to avoid embarrassing spills.

Boat with Froats 

When it comes to the best boat shoes for men and women going sailing, you can’t get much better than Froats. With super-soft, handcrafted, and cured leather, non-slip soles, and fun patterns, our shop certainly has a variety of stylish and durable boat shoes perfect for your sailing adventures. 

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