Boating Safety

We have listed some useful links and tips to help you stay safe on the water.

If you are new to boating, either hiring a boat for the first time or setting out with a boat of your own, some elements of the boating experience can be daunting… check this out for some tips and helpful advice. Boaters Handbook

10 Things to help protect your Boat in frosty weather

Marine Safety Advice

RNLI Life Jacket Maintenance

Avoiding Fire Afloat

Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats

Boat Safety Scheme 

The scheme sets standards for boats, including essential safety requirements and advice, as well as criteria for electrical installations, engines, appliances, ventilation and fuels. The programme is designed to minimise the risks of accidents including on-board fires or explosions

Rights of Passage and Sound Signals

The one key rule of the waterways that everybody should know is that when two boats meet head-on on the water the traditional method of avoiding collision is for both vessels to pass port to port by altering their course to starboard, the right of the driver.

There are of course numerous instances where greater means of communication are required to broadcast driving intentions to other vessels. For such occasions boats are expected to use their horn signals. Although the vast majority of recreational boaters unable to communicate anything other than displeasure with their horn, it is standard practice for boat users to know the basic sound signals and be able to use them whenever there is a danger that needs broadcasting.

The correct ways of signalling with a horn on inland and coastal waters are as follows:

  • One short blast – I am turning starboard side and will leave you to port side.
  • Two short blasts – I am turning port side and will leave you to starboard side.
  • Three short blasts – I am reversing my engines.
  • One long blast – I am now getting underway.
  • One long blast followed by one short blast – open the drawbridge please.
  • Five short blasts – danger, please move out of the way. Or, don’t do what your signal indicates you are about to do.

If the recipient vessel has understood the sound blast message then they should repeat it to confirm. If they do not then they either did not hear correctly or do not understand horn signalling. If the response is five short blasts then this means the original intended action is dangerous.

Concessions for Small and Large Vessels

Concessionary measures and alternative rules apply to non-motorised craft such as sailboats or kayaks. The main practice is that such vessels have the right of way over powerboats because they might have a much harder time changing course abruptly. It is also good manners to motorised vessels to slow down when passing small yachts and rowboats to avoid upsetting them with a strong wake.

When two sailboats come face to face with one another is standard practice for those on the port tack – those with the wind coming over the port side – to give way to sailboats on the starboard tack. If both vessels under sail have the wind on the same side then the sailboat to windward must give way to the one leeward.

At the other end of the scale are ships, which have the right of way over all other craft because of their slow manoeuvrability and the stringent course they must follow to avoid getting into difficulty.