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Guidelines and Rules For Getting on a Friend’s Boat to go Fishing

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Boating | Posted on 21-05-2013

After years of boating I thought I’d help save as many boating friendships as I could. Hopefully this list of guidelines will help those joining their friends on an offshore / inshore fishing adventure. Hopefully this list will help you stay in the good graces of the Captain and crew to allow you to enjoy many boating trips with friends.

Before we get into the guidelines below there is a code of conduct shared among boaters. While we don’t have time to get into all of the details just know that the Captain (the one that owns the boat or the one that is driving the boat) is the person in charge. They are legally liable for all passengers on the boat. It is important to understand there is an order to things on a boat and it starts with the Captain and goes down from there. What the Captain says goes and that’s all there is to it. Always remember that! Ok, onto the list:

  1. PART OF THE CREW – The very first thing one has to understand is THERE ARE NO PASSENGERS ON A BOAT. If you are not the Captain (the one who owns the boat) you are part of the CREW. That means you have things to do so expect to do your share of the work. This could be helping load the boat, unload the boat, cleaning out the boat, organizing items on the boat, getting fishing gear ready, rigging lines, or getting bait.
  2. PLAY BY THE RULES – Remember, you’re a guest on the boat. If the boat owner says don’t do X then don’t do X.
  3. ASK BEFORE DOING – Don’t assume ANYTHING. Like for example don’t untie a line unless the Captain asked you to untie it. There is probably a reason he wants it to stay tied. Before moving anything on the boat, or latching anything down, ask the Captain if he would like “insert item” to be moved, untied, etc. Any gear being brought on the boat let the Captain place it or direct where he wants it.
  4. DOCKING – Leaving the dock and approaching a dock or anchoring that’s the time for you to be on alert. There are lines that need to be tied or untied and these lines should be tied while in the boat. Do not attempt to jump off the boat with a roap onto the dock. More people have been harmed this way. Whatever you do, do not try to stop a multi-ton boat with your hands once it is in motion at the dock. Do not get your hands between the boat and the dock they can and will get crushed.
  5. BOATS ARE EXPENSIVE – Chip In. Don’t just offer to kick in for gas, insist on it. Also don’t forget all the other costs associated with running a boat (bait, tackle, tips at marina, ice, gear, insurance, storage fees, trailer costs, tires, etc). Whether you fish from a center console or a twin-screw diesel, boats burn a ton of fuel. A lot of boat owners are inviting more guys to fish with them for this reason alone, they want to offset some of the fuel cost. Keep in mind that a six-pack charter usually runs from $1500 to $2,500 or more for a full day (plus they still charge for fuel). For a long offshore trip offer at least $200 for gas, bait and other things. Maybe $75 to $100 for a near shore trip and around $50 if you stay inshore.
  6. MAKE THEM MISS YOU – Bring Lunch. You don’t need to get fancy, but if you can whip up a killer lunch and feed the crew, do it! Or, stop by a good deli and hook everyone up. You want everyone to miss you and your sandwiches when you’re not there.
  7. STAY BUSY – If you are fishing and the bite is slow, pick up a hose and rinse off the deck. When fishing something is always dirty. Ask the Captain if anything needs to be done. If you see lines that are broken off ask to learn how to rig a line, most Captains love passing on fishing knowledge so don’t feel bad about asking to learn.
  8. GEAR – Always ask what you need to bring before showing up at the dock. Most all boats have places for coolers, you don’t need to bring another one. Same thing with life vests. If you are fishing definitely ask what tackle you can or should bring. If you are going offshore fishing but you don’t fish offshore much, odds are the Captain and other members of the crew are going to have what you need, and probably way better than what you are going to bring. If you are more experienced, merely ask. Some Captains prefer to use their own rods and reels because they know their gear is rigged properly, but if you have tackle, offer to bring it along and always error on the side of less is more. Don’t just show up with a truck full of stuff.
  9. PACK LIGHT – When you do show up with your *stuff* be sure you only packed what you need. Boats are light on storage. Do not bring big bulky tackle boxes that will be in the way and large bags with clothes and an entire medicine cabinet of stuff. Remember every pound of stuff you place on the boat the more fuel it is going to burn. If the Captain says there isn’t room there isn’t room. Don’t argue and move on.
  10. KEEP IT CLEAN – Clean Up After Yourself. Treat someone else’s boat better than you would treat your own. If you make a mess (especially in the head), clean it up. If you spill something wash it out. If you get something on the boat wash it off THEN not LATER as later it is going to be 10 times harder to get off after baking in the sun.
  11. SHOES – Only wear non-marking boat shoes, boots or sandals. There is no bigger sin than leaving black marks all over someone’s boat.
  12. CLEAN THE FISH – Help clean the catch. Unless you don’t know how to fillet a fish, grab a knife and do your best work to give everyone a perfect fillet. Heck, even if you can’t clean a fish, you can still help with the bagging and icing. Just get involved.
  13. FIND YOUR ROLE –  Ask what the crew wants you to do. If they need a gaff man, go for it. If they’ve already got a guy for each job, get the camera and take lots of photos. Whatever it is, find your place within the crew.
  14. WASH THE BOAT – This is critical. Everything on the boat needs a good washing after a fishing trip or being in salt water. Grab a brush or sponge and help out. Don’t even think about leaving until every inch of that boat has been washed.
  15. DON’T BE THAT GUY – It is the Captain’s boat and he has probably run it many times. He’s probably not really interested in a bunch of unsolicited ideas about how things should be done.
  16. PLAN AHEAD – Check and make sure you have a valid fishing license. Don’t even think about it. Get a license. It isn’t the Captain’s responsibility to check your license. Be sure you know where you are fishing if you are close to state lines. You may need to get two licenses. Also, make sure you are ready to go on time and have everything you need for the trip.
  17. PAY ATTENTION – Pay attention when the Captain gives the safety briefing and explains how things work on the boat and where things are, the lives of everyone on board might depend on it.
  18. FISHING GEAR – If you didn’t bring fishing gear then throw some extra money for fishing gear / tackle. A single 8 oz. weight can cost $2-$3, a single lure can cost $40. Rod and reel combos can run $300-$1000 easily and just the line can be $100. It all adds up. A lot of Captains may choose to provide all the gear and take up a gear collection for the gear fund. Be sure you contribute.
  19. MARINA – If launching from a marina be polite to everyone there and NEVER ask anyone to do or get you anything unless you are personally prepared to tip them. If someone fetches ice for the boat, tip them. If someone helps you tie up, tip them. The Captain will appreciate you chipping in instead of him having to reach into his pocket every time.
  20. GLASS – Never ever bring anything glass on a boat. Ever. Never. Ever.
Following these simple words of wisdom will make you a great crew member and probably someone the Captain will never forget the next time he goes fishing. Tight lines.
  • Todd

    Excellent ! I have a few friends that need to read these.