He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve washed the boat down good, so be good for goodness’ sake.

Yes, of course, those aren’t the real lyrics to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” but they’re just as fun as any for figuring out which boaters belong on Kris Kringle’s annual Naughty and Nice List. As the Christmas holiday approaches, here’s our take on what behavior might help land you (and your crew) on the right or wrong side of Ol’ St. Nick.

Have you been a good boater this year? Only Santa can say...

Have you been a good boater this year? Only Santa can say...

Slowing down in a no-wake zone. Welcome to the Nice List, baby! Thank you for easing back on the throttle and giving a break to the manatees, homeowners with waterfront docks and any of Santa’s elves who might be taking a break from the North Pole for a shoreside swim.

Hogging the boat ramp. Naughty, naughty, naughty! Everybody’s had one of those days when, for whatever reason, the boat and trailer just will not cooperate during a launch. But when that happens in front of a long line of other boaters waiting patiently to float their own rides, the courteous move is to back away and let them go first, not to jam up the ramp for an hour or longer on a bright, sunny day.

Using designated mooring balls. That new Jet Ski on your wish list is coming your way, nice boy! There’s nothing worse than a boater who drops anchor on top of delicate coral reefs, smashing them to smithereens. Using the designated mooring balls protects the underwater environment for all boaters (and fish) to enjoy.

Glomming onto another angler’s special spot. Your fish finder is broken, or you don’t know how it works, or you couldn’t be bothered to buy one in the first place, so you follow a commercial charter-fishing boat out of the inlet and wait for its captain to locate the fish. Then, you drop your own lines right into the same school. That’s mooching—and naughty to the max.

Sharing the water with your fellow boaters. An island has two coves to enjoy, one with another boat already anchored in it, and another farther up the way with no boats at all. You go the distance to leave the anchored boat in solitude, even though it means a bit of extra motoring on your part. Santa would be as proud of you as he is of Rudolph.

For more holiday fun, read...

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2017 and updated in December 2018.

Written by: Kim Kavin
Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine www.CharterWave.com.