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Whether you call it “Boat-gating,” “Sail-gating” or just “tailgating by boat,” it all means the same thing: A great way to have a blast with friends and family while supporting your team. All you need is a Go-All-Out crew, your Axis, and a stadium on the water. There are dozens of groups around the country that tailgate by boat, with a couple of standouts being the Vol Navy supporting the Volunteers on the Tennessee River, and the University of Washington in Seattle supporting the Huskies. These crews draw in hundreds of vessels every home game with a veritable armada of boats. If you’re within trailering distance, these events are not to be missed. Here’s the ultimate guide to tailgating by boat.
While it can be much more convenient to boat to the game and beat the auto traffic, you still need to find a place to dock. Plenty of slips are first come first serve, so it’s a good idea to talk to locals or call ahead to get a feel for how early you should arrive. As always, it’s best to reserve a slip if possible.
However, at some boat-gating sites, there may not be actual dock space. The experience is all about being as close to the stadium as possible, which means you may want to hang out at anchor. Make sure you have plenty of rope for your depth (at least a 5:1 ratio of anchor rope to depth) and lots of room around you in case your boat swings.
Regardless of whether it’s your first time at a sail-gate, bring extra dock lines and fenders. You may be in a tie-up situation with larger or smaller boats, or you may be at a dock with an abnormal height.
This is probably a no-brainer, but get your playlists together. Use your phone’s Bluetooth to connect to your head unit and you’re off to the races. If you’re going through areas without cell reception on your way to the stadium, most apps allow you to download playlists so you can still hear your favorites while you’re offline.
If the weather allows, there’s no better way to tailgate with friends than while floating beside your Axis. You might even be able to wakeboard or surf on the way to the stadium. Just make sure you pay mind to no wake zones & are respectful of other boats on the water.
You’re likely going to be on the water for quite some time, so snacks, beverages, a good cooler, and even a portable grill can be great additions. As always — remember to hydrate. Something about being on the water tends to dry you out, so water and electrolytes are a must if you plan to go the distance.
Bring all the sunscreen. You’ll never get more burnt than on a boat with the sun reflecting off the water. Don’t be a lobster by the half, just wear sunscreen or a sun shirt with a brimmed hat and you’ll be good to go. Extra points if they’re branded Axis or your local team. Better yet, pull out your Bimini sunshade so the whole crew stays cool and shaded.
Safety on the water is always the number one priority. Appropriately sized USGC-approved life jackets for all crew members, a fire extinguisher, a throwable cushion, a first aid kit, and a working horn are the basics. Check your local laws and regulations to make sure you have everything you need.
If you’re heading into unfamiliar waters or boating in the dark, take it slow. Use a navigation system, but don’t rely on it too much. GPS and charting aren’t always accurate. Keep your eyes open and check your depth often to make sure you have plenty of water underneath you for the entire trip.
If you’re having a bit of boat envy because you don’t have a Bimini sun shade, or your Axis isn’t white and bright orange (go Vols!), then it’s time to check out our 3D Boat Builder to design your custom Axis, complete with everything you need for a great sail-gating experience. After all, it doesn’t matter if your team is winning if you’re winning, right?
Contact your local dealer to schedule your on-the-water demo & join the Axis Wake Movement. You’ll be glad you did.