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Don’t Rock the Boat Board Game: Rules and Instructions for How to Play

Don’t Rock the Boat Board Game: Rules and Instructions for How to Play

Don’t Rock the Boat How to Play Quick Links:  |  Objective  |  Setup  |  Playing the Game  |  Winning the Game  |  FAQ  |  Components  |

Objective of Don’t Rock the Boat

The objective of Don’t Rock the Boat is to place objects on the ship while keeping it balanced so no objects fall off the ship.


  • Take the Wave apart. Put the balancing rod into the top of one of the sides of the Wave. Then snap the two Wave pieces together. Note: Older versions of the game don’t have the balancing rod.
  • Insert the masts and crow nests into the corresponding spots on the ship. Slide the planks into the sides of the ship. Note: Older versions of the game don’t have the planks.
  • Balance the ship on the Wave until it is stable.
  • Place all of the objects into a pile where all of the players can reach them.
  • The youngest player starts the game.
Setting up the game

Playing Don’t Rock the Boat

You will begin your turn by choosing one of the objects that haven’t been added to the boat yet. You can choose any of the pieces. Older versions of the game only have penguins, while newer versions have other pieces in addition to the penguins.

Once you have chosen a piece, you will place it on the boat. There aren’t really any restrictions on where you can place your chosen piece. You can place it in the crow’s nest, on the deck, or you could even have it dangle off the edge of the boat. The piece just has to be placed somewhere on the boat.

Placing a penguin on the boat
The first player has chosen a penguin and has placed it on the boat. As nothing has tipped off the boat, the player successfully completed their turn.

While you are choosing where to place your piece you need to consider the balance of the boat. The boat will sway back and forth as you add pieces to it. You want to place your piece so the boat doesn’t sway too much and one of the pieces fall off the boat.

Balancing penguins on the Don't Rock the Boat ship
Five penguins have been placed on the ship. The ship is balanced and no penguins have fallen off. The next player in turn order has to add another penguin to the boat.

After you have placed your piece, play passes to the player on your left. They will choose a new piece and try to add it to the boat.

Winning the Game

Players will keep taking turns choosing a piece and placing it on the boat. The game ends when a player places a piece and it leads to one or more pieces falling off the boat. If a piece falls but stays on the boat, this does not trigger the end game. The end game is only triggered when one or more pieces fall off the boat.

The last player to successfully place a piece on the boat without tipping off any of the objects (the player that went before the player that tipped the boat), wins Don’t Rock the Boat.

Winning Don't Rock the Boat
The ship tipped and knocked all of the penguins off the boat. The last player to successfully add a penguin to the boat wins the game.

Don’t Rock the Boat FAQs

If you have any questions about how to play Don’t Rock the Boat, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.

Components for Don't Rock the Boat

Don’t Rock the Boat Components

Older Versions

  • Boat
  • 3 Masts
  • Water Wave
  • 16 Penguins
  • Instructions

Newer Versions

  • Boat
  • 3 Masts
  • 2 Planks
  • Water Wave
  • Balancing Rod
  • 10 Penguins
  • Octopus
  • Crab
  • Cannon
  • Treasure Chest
  • Anchor
  • Ship’s Wheel
  • Instructions

Year: 2012 | Publisher: Patch Products, PlayMonster

Genres: Children’s, Dexterity, Family

Ages: 5+ | Number of Players: 2-4 | Length of Game: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate

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For more board and card game how to plays/rules and reviews, check out our complete alphabetical list of board game posts.