Boating Tips: Communication, Captaincy and Camaraderie

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Being able to communicate with your crew effectively is essential for safety and promoting good seamanship.

The difference between a poorly delivered order and an effectively delivered order could mean the difference between a textbook manoeuvre such as docking safely or a dangerous manoeuvre such as hitting the dock hard and damaging your boat or injuring a crew member.

This is the reason that all good seamanship requires the captain to communicate effectively with every crew member while keeping them happy and contented.


When boating, it is imperative to convey the correct meaning and intent when delivering an order. There are various instances when the captain needs to deliver precise commands to the crew and these might include docking, anchoring, running in high seas, travelling through fog and negotiating busy waterways– among other scenarios.

Often the wind will dampen the voice commands of the captain making it necessary for hand signals.

There are four main elements to improved boating and effective captaincy. These are leadership, communication, repetition and training.


As the captain of the boat your job is to know your craft and understand how it works and behaves in various sea and inland water conditions. Understanding how the boat reacts, you will understand what orders to issue to the crew at any given time.

As the captain, you need to remain calm at all times and convey your communication clearly. A flustered captain has a flustered crew.


Communication can be verbal but usually, an effective captain should be able to communicate with a combination of hand signals and verbal commands to impart the necessary orders effectively.


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