Appropriate Waving Boat Etiquette

Mike and I took a few of the girls to the Marina to get a broken part for the tube, and we quickly realized that there seemed to be a part of boating culture of which we had been previously unaware.  To get to the Marina we had to cross our lake, go through one channel, cross another lake, and arrive in the middle of an additional channel.  During this trip we learned a few things.
Rule # 1: If you look you have to wave.  If you’re going fast on a lake you don’t seem to need to wave at anyone.  People seem to assume that you are to busy having fun to pay attention to them and wave.  They are okay with this because they are hoping to do the same shortly.  On the other hand, if you are going more slowly, like you might do on a pontoon boat, you must wave if you happen to look at them.  For some reason it seems like a wave must accompany a look.  So rule number 1 is “no looking without waving.”
Rule # 2: We wave because we’re better than everyone else.  There was some confusion with these rules because they only seem to apply on boats and motorcycles.  I’ve noticed that two complete strangers feel compelled to wave to each other as they drive past on motorcycles, yet this apparent etiquette is no longer applied in a car.  I can still see the people in the car, we share a common bond of “car driving.”  Why don’t we wave at cars that go by?  I suppose the logical answer is that we would be constantly waving and that is probably dangerous and a little absurd – so then do motorcyclists wave because they share the commonality of being on a motorcycle – like it’s some kind of special club – and since there aren’t a lot of them they can chance the occasional wave?  I suppose so.  That seems to be the same etiquette shared in the boating community.  As you drive by someone in a channel on the lake, you are part of a special boat community.  It’s not so much that you know each other or even really want to know each other – you’re just better than everyone else without a boat so you have to acknowledge them.  This leads to boat waving rule # 2 – “Waving from a boat is a display of internal elitism.”
Rule # 3: Your wave says a lot about you.  At first we were throwing out just normal waves – kind of like – hey, nice to see you!  Yet, we quickly realized that we were naive in this venture.  We received a couple full body waves – you know the kind – both arms in the air, full body moving to the joy of the wave.  Interestingly enough, these were people standing on the shore line watching us go by.  They probably wanted to be part of the boating community, but were too poor and unworthy to participate.  Once we began to assess the waves of boating folk, we too quickly came across the equivalent to the full body wave – but on a boat.  You can’t really do a full body wave on a boat without potentially capsizing or really annoying all the people you are with, but a full arm wave is the closest equivalent.  The full arm wave consists of the arm being fully extended and fully waving to the longest diameter possible or vigorously waving the arm in one spot – this could be vigorous in that the arm is moving quickly or both the arm and the upper arm under flab are working together to form the intense wave.
Most people were more modest in their wave – everything from a raise of the palm with no movement on the part of the arm to a point with an appropriate finger, maybe even two fingers.  We started waving with different waves to see different responses.  Sometimes I didn’t lift my arm from the steering wheel but raised my hand to at least acknowledge them which has been termed the “palm acknowledge.” This told them that I had done this for years, and I still wanted to be polite but didn’t really care about them at all.  In fact, I was kind of annoyed that I had to abide by these silly boating customs. I have a few friends but only because I have a boat, and I don’t want anymore friends.  Another time we attempted the “full lift with full single wave” which said that we like people and don’t hate boating etiquette.  In fact we probably want more friends and are a little disappointed that our new potential friends are driving away.  We as well experimented with the “half lift and point.” This is bordering on the bikers “low down hand lift.”  These people want friends as well, but they don’t want to look as needy or inexperienced as the “full lift with full single wave” people.  They are crying out for affirmation but are desperately insecure and want to appear to be cool at the same time.
Then you have the “no wavers.”  They tend to be really secure people – or at least want to appear to be really secure.  All their friends are on their boat at that time – and if there are no people on the boat – well, you can draw the inference. They don’t like people and they probably don’t even really care for boating.  This is just what they do.  Now you may ask, “doesn’t rule # 1 allow for the possibility that they just didn’t see you?”  Yes and no – really how wouldn’t you see a boat going by you?  The fact that they didn’t look at me means that they actually saw me out of the corner of their eye and purposefully didn’t turn and look because they didn’t want to have to acknowledge my presence – which goes to an even more intense application of rule # 2.
Rule # 4: A nod doesn’t count.  I never once saw anyone just nod – you know the nod – it’s more an eye lift than a movement of the head.  That works in cars and across a room, but not on a boat.  Seeing that everyone is bobbing up and down on a boat throughout the entirety of their trip, the head nod could get a little confusing if it was counted as a greeting.  It’s possible that the occupants of any given boat are that kind and friendly, but it is more likely that they are simply forced bobble heads.  Therefore, a nod doesn’t count.
And in conclusion . . . you may not be able to see me, but to all my friends out there – here’s a full body wave.

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