Master the Art of Onboard Entertaining

Sharing good times on your boat with family and friends is likely one of the reasons you bought a boat. After all, gatherings on the water are always more enjoyable and memorable than those on land. But entertaining on a boat does present certain challenges. There’s less room, a smaller kitchen area to work with (if there’s a kitchen at all), and you are more vulnerable to the weather. Here are a few tips to make sure your onboard party experiences smooth sailing.

Stick to a strict guest list. A crowded party at home might spill out onto your yard. On a boat, you don’t have that luxury. Onboard space and seats are limited (as are lifejackets). There are also capacity laws. Figure out how many people you can comfortably have on your boat, and then stick to that number of guests. 

Have a theme for your party. Are you celebrating a holiday like July 4th? If so, make sure to have red, white and blue decorations. If it isn’t a holiday, pick a theme – like a pirate party or 80s cruise – and decorate and accessorize like crazy. A boat party with a purpose is always more fun. 

Create a detailed list. Once your boat leaves the dock, there’s no turning back if you forgot something. So make sure you have everything onboard that you need by creating a detailed list and then checking it multiple times (and, perhaps, have someone else check it, too). 

Prepare for the weather. Summertime weather on the water can change in a hurry. Squalls can sneak up on you, winds can turn strong, and the shining sun can burn you. Make sure guests are prepared with rain gear, windbreakers and plenty of sunscreen. 

Keep the food simple. Meals on a boat don’t need to be extravagant. After all, the boat and setting are the stars of the party; the food should just complement that. Also, tight space and small appliances can make creating impressive meals for partygoers difficult. Plus, you don’t want to spend the whole party cooking in the galley. Instead, keep food options simple. Prepare what you can ahead of time and offer food that is light and easy-to-assemble.

Prepare transportation. Sometimes, parking availability at a marina can be hard to come by. And if you have a lot of guests coming, they could have trouble finding places to park. Consider that you may need to meet somewhere nearby and then carpool to the marina.