Owning a boat has plenty of rules and regulations that must be adhered to, covering various aspects of legislation and safety.
A boat must be registered for use on inland waterways such as rivers and canals and this is deemed as any vessel, with or without a motor.
This covers river boats, sailing boats, canal boats and house boats as well as canoes, rowing boats and dinghies.
In order to register a boat, insurance is required as is a boat safety scheme certificate – essentially the process is very similar to what is needed to run a car.
The schemes help to protect waterways from pollution, boat fires and other issues by improving the understanding of boat users.
A similar set of rules applies to boats intended for sea use and the requirements will depend on the specific class of the vessel concerned.
This defines their use, which certification is required and what inspections are needed in order to comply with the certificates.
All boat users have a responsibility to follow international safety regulations when out at sea and could face prosecution should it be deemed not to be the case.
Planning a voyage before travelling is essential and the vessel must carry a radar reflector and an illustrated table of the recognised life-saving signals.
Many of these aspects of sailing are taught on survival and first aid courses, ensuring that sailors are aware of what to do in an emergency situation.
In the event of an emergency situation, help must be given to other craft and any distress signals must be used properly.
This enhances the likelihood of help reaching those who require it and provides the emergency services with a clear idea of where the vessel is.
In a bid to prevent collisions, regulations insist that navigation lights, shapes and sound signalling devices must be present on a boat at sea.
Safe distances should be maintained at all times and sailors should remain alert to any other vessels around them – especially diving boats with a blue-and-white Alpha flag.
For any boat that is more than 13.7 metres long, it is essential that the vessel has lifejackets, life rafts, flares and fire extinguishers on board.
In terms of what is required, it will vary depending on the size of the boat concerned and on the distances that a boat will be from the coast.
A number of regulations apply to pleasure vessels, the details of which can be found here.
While having flares is an essential part of being out on the water in an emergency, there are also plenty of regulatory requirements detailing how to get rid of them if they are damaged or out-of-date.
Simply putting them in household bins, garden waste or public litter bins is an offence, as it is to dump them while out at sea.
It is also an offence to set them off if it is not in an emergency situation and to leave them anywhere that another member of the public might find them.
Many sales locations will offer take back schemes for old flares, while some marinas and life raft service stations may also take them.
Most boating related incidents involve someone doing something to cause it, or not taking action to avoid it, so being aware of all relevant safety issues is essential.
Many of the aspects will be covered when undertaking boating courses but there is always a need to take care when out on the water.