Prep | Check | Know

Prepare your boat

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

Check the weather forecast and your gear

Checking the weather before you head out on the water is essential to prepare for a safe trip.


Use the QR code to download the app or visit:

Use the QR code to download the app from


VHF channels 19, 20, 79.
Download the Coastguard NZ app.

Coastguard App QR code.

Maritime radio

VHF channels 67, 68, 71.
Forecast times: 0533, 0733, 1033, 1333, 1733, 2133 hrs.

Live wind and wave data buoys

Whangārei Harbour:

Bay of Islands (off the Ninepin):

If in doubt, don't go out!

Equipment checklist

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.

Make sure all passengers know what safety gear is on board, where it's stored, and how to use it.

Know the rules

The skipper is responsible for the safety of the vessel and passengers.

You must be aged over 15 to operate a vessel capable of going 10 knots or more.

Plan your safe route before departure and make sure someone on shore knows your plans.

Use your VHF radio to file a trip report with your local Coastguard, stating:

  • Name of vessel.
  • Where you are going.
  • How many people are on board.
  • When you expect to return
  • Close your trip report once you have returned safely.

Failing to close a trip report with Maritime Radio is unlikely to spark a rescue. Telling someone where you are going and when they should call Police on 111 if you don’t return is key.

Keep to the speed limit - all boats must go 5 knots (9.25 km/h) or less:

  • Within 50m of people in the water and other vessels or structures.
  • Within 200m of shore or within 200m of a boat flying a dive flag.

Keep a good look out and have an additional person observing when towing.

Don’t overload your vessel.

Don’t drink alcohol and go boating.


To learn the 'road' rules, including how to correctly display lights and when to give way, we thoroughly recommend that all skippers and boat owners complete a recognised boating education course relevant to their vessel. 

Coastguard Boating Education offers a variety of courses, including Day Skipper, Boatmaster, and Marine VHF Radio. For more information, visit: or phone 0800 40 80 90.