Know the Ropes: Essential Boating Safety Tips

Whether you’re a sailor seasoned by the seas or a pleasure-cruiser captaining your first craft, it’s always good practice to review boating safety rules before you leave the dock.

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On the Right Tack

You wouldn't get behind the wheel without driving lessons, so why drive a boat without proper instruction? Navigation rules, like the rules of the road, are number one as you prepare to set sail. Knowing what to do in a crossing situation, and understanding buoys and other navigation aids, are important for reducing the risk of collision with other seacrafts, rocks and wildlife.

Hit the books. Study Educational material on marine safety, boating and mooring regulations are available from the Boats and Mooring Section of the Department of Marine and Ports. Ensure you visit or give them a call on 295-6575 for more information.

Be mindful of other boaters and swimmers on the water by keeping a safe distance. Keep your wake low when near other boats, swimmers or the shoreline. Always be responsible and ensure you obey the restrictions and regulations. You can read The Marine Board Safety Regulations here.


Stay in Ship Shape

Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, so designate a sober skipper and first mate before leaving the dock. Ensure that there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and water to help you and your guests stay hydrated and provide ample shade for sun protection.


All Hands on Deck

It’s essential to have a pre-departure checklist. The Marine Board Safety regulations require most boats to have various safety equipment onboard, including but not limited to:

  • VHF Radio equipment
  • flares 
  • life jackets 
  • life buoys
  • an anchor and extra line
  • paddles
  • a bailer or bilge pump
  • fire extinguishers
  • a flashlight
  • a reflective mirror

It is also a great idea to make sure you have sufficient food, water, sun and weather protective clothing, sunscreen, medicines, sunglasses and of course a first aid kit.

Work as a team to make sure that your equipment is in good working order. Check the weather conditions to ensure that it is safe to go out and that you have enough fuel for a round trip. Make your float plan known, by making sure someone onshore knows where you are going and how long you will be gone for.


Above Board 

Before setting off, make sure your marine insurance policy is up to date. Marine insurance can cover not only damage to your or someone else’s boat, it also compensates for accidental boat-related death, injury or illness. Coverage is also extended for theft of listed contents and damage caused by windstorms. To enquire about Argus marine insurance, contact us at or call 298-0888.