Safety information

Man servicing boat engine.

Prepare your boat

  • Service your engine regularly
  • Check the hull for damage
  • Ensure the bilges are clean and dry
  • Charge your batteries
  • Test your steering
  • Check your electrical equipment and navigation lights work
  • Ensure the bung is in.

Check your gear

  • Life jackets – suitably sized for each person on board
    If you are on a vessel six metres and under, you must wear your life jacket when you’re underway and if there is heightened risk
  • Fuel – have a third to get there, a third to return and a third in reserve
  • Communication devices – take two ways to call for assistance: a waterproof cellphone, VHF EPIRB, PLB or flares
  • Navigation – chart, GPS, plotter, depth sounder and navigation lights
  • Anchor – suitable for vessel with chain and non-floating rope
  • Bailing system – bucket, bailer or bilge pump
  • Fire extinguisher – store in appropriate case
  • First aid kit – for minor accidents or injuries
  • Torch – with spare batteries
  • Throw line – in case of person overboard
  • Alternative means of propulsion – oars or spare engine.

Two men on a boat wearing life jackets.

Know the rules

  • Skipper responsibility – The skipper is responsible for the safety of the vessel and passengers
  • Take a day skippers’ course with Coastguard boating education
    You must be aged over 15 to operate a vessel capable of going 10 knots or more
  • Learn the ‘rules of the road’ at sea
  • Keep a good look out
  • Know the speed rules
  • When towing, you need an additional person to observe – look out for the access lanes
  • Check the marine weather forecast before you go out - if in doubt, don’t go out
  • Don’t overload your vessel
  • Don’t drink alcohol and go boating
  • Anchor carefully - so your boat doesn’t drag or swing around and damage other craft
  • Know what side of the buoys and beacons you should pass
  • Plan your safe route before departure.
Weather warning on phone.

Speed limits

All vessels must proceed at a safe speed. The safe speed must take into account vessel traffic, weather and visibility. Five knots (9.25 km/h or quick walking pace).

Keep to the speed limit

  • within 50 metres of a person in the water and another boat or structure All boats must keep to 5 knots:
  • within 200 metres of the shore and from a dive flag.

5 Knot sign.