Boat Charter Etiquette 101
Whether this is your first charter, or your 132nd charter, there's always room for improvement. Many of these are true for a day charter, but this is written more for a multi-day charter. A lot of this is common sense, but we were all taught differently, so it won't hurt to hear it again.
1. Be prepared. Check the packing list. If you weren't provided with one, ask for one. If there isn't one available, ask to talk with someone that's been on the charter before. They can offer you a list of things they recommend that you bring. Also, ask if there are requir
ed items - like a safety sausage. Once you've got a list, get your stuff ready early, just in case you can't find something or it doesn't work.
2. Check your gear. Is your gear due to be serviced? The last thing you want to do is get to your destination and have some kind of gear malfunction. If you're using your own tank, is it up to date on the Visual Inspection? How bout the Hydro date? This will be an embarrassing moment if you show up without checking and end up in line at the rental counter. And what if the last minute means theres no more rentals available?
3. Batteries. How long has it been since you put a new battery in your dive computer? Most charters require you to have a dive computer. If you aren't changing your dive computer battery on a regular basis, why not? If you can't remember the last time that you changed it, today is the day. Bring a spare battery, it is very minimal cost to have one on hand in case something happens versus the alternative... dead battery... no bubble time.
4. Gear Storage. Bring a bag that you can fit your gear into, not an oversized bag. Find out how your gear is to be stowed on this charter. Each crew has their own rules. Learn them. Follow them. Don't leave things laying around on the benches, floor or other areas. Keep your stuff stowed wherever it should be when not in use. If you're not using it, put it away. Please respect other peoples space. Try to take up as little space as possible.
5. Respect other's belongings. If someone has left their stuff laying about, don't pick it up and move it. Find out who it belongs to and ask them nicely to put it away. Many people don't like their gear touched by others. Don't ever move someone else's gear to a different location. If it isn't yours, don't mess with it.
6. Dive Briefing. It doesn't matter how good of a diver you are, listen to the dive briefing. Respect the people in charge and listen to what they are saying. Usually, these people have been to the spot many times and are telling you the things that you need to know. Don't disrespect them and talk through their briefing.
7. Enter and exit. Once you're all geared up and you and your buddy are ready to enter the water, proceed with caution. If this is the first time diving off a boat, ask for help. Don't be embarrassed. It will be more embarrassing when you do something wrong and everyone sees it then it is to be safe and ask. Don't approach the area to enter the water unless you are ready. It's not nice to hold up the flow of diver's entering the water. Make sure there's no one below you when you giant stride. Make sure you're inflated. Make sure your mask is on. Once in the water, don't linger in front of the entrance, move to the side so other's can enter as well. You will be informed of the exit procedures prior to the first dive. Pay attention.
8. Enjoy your dive. We will assume that you all have perfect diving etiquette in the water. Don't molest the creatures, don't touch the coral. Don't kick up the bottom. Stay with your buddy. Many dive sites are protected so they are a "no take" zone. If you're not supposed to take things, then don't.
9. Things to keep in mind. Keep your space clear. Don't leave your stuff everywhere. No one will invite you back if you're hard to have around. A boat is a small place and its important to be aware of others and get along. Clean up after yourself, no one wants to be your mom.
10. Tip the crew. Tips for the captain and crew are definitely customary and should be considered ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. If you feel like the crew did a good job for you, then tip them well. A day charter is generally figured at $10 - $15 per tank when tipping. On a multi-day charter 10 - 15 % is the rule of thumb for tipping. If you need a little extra help or have a big camera that will take more crew help, throw in some more tip, they will appreciate the acknowledgement!