If you’re heading out on the water this winter you need a plan of action-no matter how experienced you are. Knowing the local conditions before you head out will help keep you and others safe while being free to enjoy your experience.
Make the right safety choice by following the Boating Safety Code - wear your life jacket (and make sure it’s the right size), take two waterproof ways to call for help, check the marine weather forecast, avoid alcohol, and know the rules to be a responsible skipper.
prep
your craft and equipment; whether that’s your boat, paddle board, canoe, kayak, waka or any other vessel, making sure it’s safe and water-ready before leaving home.
check
your gear to make sure it’s safe and fit for purpose, and ensure you have two ways to call for help if you need it. Pack the right safety equipment you need to operate your craft.
know
your responsibilities for keeping yourself and others safe by making plans to suit your confidence on the water. Stay up-to-date with the marine forecast and local bylaws.
Powerboats
Paddle craft
MAINTAIN YOUR BOAT AND GIVE IT AN ANNUAL CHECK.
  • Ensure the bung is in good condition.
  • Check the hull for damage.
  • Ensure bilges are clean and dry.
  • Test steering for stiffness.
  • Clean the fuel filter and check fuel lines for leaks.
  • Charge your batteries.
  • Test your electrical equipment and lights are working.
  • Check for fuel smells and ventilate your boat before starting your engine.
  • Check the outboard, pull cord, kill switch, throttle and gear shift are all working.
  • Start the engine and ensure cooling water is flowing .
ESSENTIAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST.
  • Lifejackets: One suitable fitted lifejacket for everyone on board. ƒ
  • Communication equipment: Two ways to call for help – VHF radio, distress beacons (EPIRB or PLB), cell phone in a waterproof bag and flares.
  • Navigation: Charts, plotter, GPS, depth sounder and navigation lights.
  • Alternative power: A spare outboard motor or oars.
  • Bailing system: A bucket, bailer or bilge pump.
  • Anchor: Suitable anchor with 3-6m chain. Attach to a non-floating rope and secure to the boat.
  • Fire extinguishers: Store within reach of the deck or cockpit.
  • First aid kit: Basic kit for minor accidents or injuries.
  • Torch: Spare bulb and batteries.
  • Throwline: For person overboard.
  • Fuel: Take 1/3 to get there, 1/3 to return, 1/3 in reserve.
KNOW THE RULES OF THE WATER.
  • Skippers are responsible for the safety of their boat and passengers. You can be prosecuted, so learn how to boat safely.
  • Take an online Day Skipper course with Coastguard Boating Education.
  • Drivers must be 15 years and over to operate a power boat.
  • Know the give way rules as they apply to your vessel.
  • Keep a good lookout at all times, especially at speed.
  • Go less than 5 knots 200m within the shore or near a dive boat and within 50m of swimmers and other boats. Observe the 5 knot rule.
  • If towing you need an observer - that’s three people when water skiing or wake boarding.
  • Display the correct lights at night so you can be seen.
  • If you can hear and see a large ship get out of its way fast.
  • Check MarineMate for your local bylaws (search ‘Marine Mate’ in your app store).
MAINTAIN YOUR PADDLE CRAFT AND GIVE IT AN ANNUAL CHECK.
  • Check your craft for leaks, damage or dodgy cables/fasteners and anything else that could invite trouble.
  • Tether your paddle so you don’t lose it if you capsize. Know how to get back on and right your paddle craft.
ESSENTIAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST.
  • LIFEJACKETS: Check your lifejacket, especially an inflatable, is undamaged and fits. Know how to adjust the fit.
  • COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT: Take two – a hand held VHF radio, a personal locator beacon (PLB) or a cell phone in a waterproof lanyard bag. Carry them on you or stash them in your lifejacket pocket.
  • WETSUIT: Dress for the water temp, not air temp. Cold water shocks and hypothermia can kill.
  • WATERPROOF TORCH: Show a bright light from (and during) sunset to sunrise. Check your battery.
KNOW THE RULES OF THE WATER.
  • LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Talk to locals about the specific tides, currents and hazards. Check MarineMate for your local bylaws (search ‘Marine Mate’ in your app store).
  • PLENTY OF FOOD, DRINK AND SUNSCREEN: Don’t get caught short.