Boating and Sailgating: Tips for Tailgating on the Water

Tailgating is a popular pre-game tradition among avid sports fans, but why limit this fun social activity to land? Sailgating combines the excitement of tailgating with the enjoyment of spending a day on the water. That’s right, with a sailgate, you can celebrate your favorite sporting event from your boat! Here are some tips to help you plan the ultimate sailgating party.

Plan Ahead

Check the rules and regulations of your local marina or waterway before planning your sailgate party. Make sure you have the necessary permits and permissions in place. Some areas may have restrictions on noise levels or alcohol consumption, so make sure you understand the rules.

Choose the Right Vessel

Selecting the right boat for your sailgate is critical. Whether you own a boat or plan to rent one, you’ll want to make sure it can accommodate your guests and equipment comfortably. Consider options like a pontoon boat, a spacious powerboat or a sailboat with plenty of seating for your guests.

Plan the Route and Destination

Depending on the size and amenities of your boat, you may want to anchor near the stadium, park at a marina, or find a sandbar to host your sailgate. Remember to factor in your guests’ preferences, travel time and any local rules for anchoring or docking your boat.

Food and Beverages

The key to any successful tailgating event is delicious food and refreshing drinks. Plan a menu that is both tasty and easy to prepare on the water.

Simple Finger Foods

Opt for finger foods that don’t require a lot of preparation or clean up. Consider sandwiches, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and other snacks that can be easily eaten while onboard.

Onboard Grilling

If your boat has a grill, plan a menu of grilled favorites like burgers, hot dogs, and kabobs. Be sure to pack plenty of propane and all the necessary grilling tools.

Transporting and Storing Food

Invest in high-quality, airtight containers to transport and store your food. Soft-sided coolers are more space-efficient than hard coolers, and they can be easily stowed when not in use.

Beverages and Ice

Stock up on plenty of ice and a variety of beverages for your guests, including non-alcoholic options. Plan to either have a designated cooler for drinks or use a separate section of a larger cooler.

Entertainment and Fan Gear

Game Broadcast

Set up a portable TV, radio, or streaming device on your boat so you and your guests can listen to or watch the game. Choose a reliable audio, satellite or Wi-Fi source to ensure a strong signal throughout the event.


Create a playlist of upbeat, crowd-pleasing tunes to play during breaks and after the game. Be conscious of noise regulations, and consider investing in wireless speakers that can be distributed around the boat to provide balanced sound.

Fan Gear

Make sure you and your guests are decked out in your team’s colors and gear. Consider having themed decorations, cups, and plates for your sailgate.

Safety and Etiquette

Safety should always come first when planning a sailgate. Make sure your boat is outfitted with the necessary safety equipment like life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit. Designate a sober captain to ensure the boat is operated safely at all times.

Keep the environment in mind while sailgating. Properly dispose of trash and recyclables and avoid using single-use plastics when possible. Be considerate of other boaters by keeping noise levels respectable and maintaining a reasonable distance from other vessels.

Anchors Aweigh!

With proper planning and attention to detail, you can host a memorable sailgating event that combines the excitement of a tailgate with the pleasure of spending a day on the water. So, set sail and enjoy a unique, boat-based celebration of your favorite sport and team.

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