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boat training documents

21 June 2023

Navigating Waters Safely: Your Guide to Boat Safety and Support

Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a newcomer to the world of boating, ensuring safety on the water should always be your top priority. In this article, we’ll dive into some crucial boat safety and support advice to help you enjoy boating with peace of mind.

Do I Need Boat Training?

A recognised training course is increasingly a requirement for insurance and we strongly recommend anyone new to boating takes an appropriate training course.

You wouldn’t sit in a car for the first time and expect to know how to drive.

Our Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor provides a wide range of courses from basic boat handling up to VHF operators course, ICC and coastal powerboat training.

We strongly recommend that new and more experienced boaters take the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course. This is a hands-on course with minimal theory which equips skippers with all the skills required to make their boating safer and more enjoyable.

On completion, this course also enables skippers to take the written test for the RYA International Certificate of Competence (ICC) which is a legal requirement in many parts of Europe.

What Safety Equipment Will I Need?

It is essential that you properly equip your boat prior to taking to the water.

Some safety equipment is mandatory for pleasure vessels of 13.7m in length and over as they are classified as Class XII vessels under the Merchant Shipping Regulations.

Whether or not the equipment is mandatory, at the very least you should carry:

  • A lifejacket for every person on board
  • Fire extinguishers and fire blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Distress flares
  • Radar reflector
  • Navigation lights and sound signaling equipment
  • Life ring
  • Bucket
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (if going to sea)
  • Safety lines
  • Kill cord
  • A powerful torch
  • Life raft and grab bag
  • Tools and spares
  • Spare fuel – stored safely
  • Boarding ladder
  • Knife

Some of this equipment will come with new or second-hand boats, but if you are in any doubt our staff can help you find everything you need.

Will I Need Navigation Equipment?

Most sea-going boats will come pre-equipped with navigation equipment, which are essential if you are planning on venturing offshore.

These can include chart plotting equipment, GPS satellite navigation, depth sounder, compass, radar, navigation lights, and a VHF radio.

On the Broads, the only requirement is that vessels carry navigation lights if for use after dark, though GPS satellite navigation will prove useful if you’re unfamiliar with the geography of the 120 miles of navigable waterways.

Once I’ve Bought a Boat, Is There Ongoing Support?

After your purchase, you’ll have all the support you need on an ongoing basis, from professional training to advice on equipment, moorings, and the servicing of your boat once you’re enjoying life on the water.

Many of our customers pop in to the office for a chat and a coffee. You’ll always find a warm welcome and an expert on hand to help you with any queries you may have.

Our Cruising Club also provides an opportunity to go out to sea with a full professional support team to give newcomers all the reassurance they need while they learn the ropes.

What’s The Hardest Part of Boating?

If any aspect of boating is making you nervous, it’s probably mooring and manoeuvring in confined spaces.

The absence of a brake pedal, the flow of the tide and effect of the wind does take a little getting used to. The type of boat you buy will also change things, for example whether you have a single or twin engine.

Although, practice makes perfect and there are plenty of places on the Broads where you can hone your skills.

NYA instructor Chris Billson says that while mooring is probably the hardest part of boating to master, it doesn’t have to be.

“Providing you understand some of the very basics, it happens for you,” he says. “It’s when you ignore those basics, when you don’t understand what the tide or wind is doing, it can all go wrong. Most importantly, know when you’ve gone wrong, come out and try again.”

Chris runs several different courses, using either your own boat or his training vessel, and we strongly recommend all newcomers to boating to undertake a two-day training course.

Learn more about the training courses we provide here.

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