Guidance and advice from the RYA.

Be prepared; think ‘what if ?’ and don’t ruin a good day out on the water with insufficient planning. An element of planning is required for even the simplest and shortest of journeys.

Notices to Mariners

Notices to Mariners are issued from a number of different sources, such as the UK Hydrographic Office, Trinity House or Local Harbour Authorities.

Engine checks

Checking your engine before you set off could avoid breaking down when you are underway.

Lights shapes & sounds

Lights and shapes are used to indicate the status of a vessel at sea and the direction in which a vessel underway is moving, to allow the correct action to be taken by all the vessels when in sight of each other.

Counterfeit charts

Counterfeit charts and publications. Counterfeit products pose a danger to the safety of vessels and crews.

Night boating

Before setting sail on a passage which will involve sailing in the dark, thought should be given to how the dark will make the trip different to a voyage completed in daylight only.

Overhead wires

Always check for overhead lines before rigging or moving boats with masts. Don't assume wires on wooden poles are telephone wires.


Before you go check the weather forecast and get regular updates if you are planning to be out for any length of time.  Check the anticipated currents and tidal predictions for your trip and ensure that they fit with what you are planning to do.

For the safety and enjoyment of everyone on board remember you, your boat and your crew are one; your limits are the collective limits. There are many factors which may determine what you can enjoy safely on any given day but you can keep your skills up to date with one of our many courses.

Find a course

The gear you will require differs for day boats and boats with eating and sleeping facilities, and it will vary depending on where you are boating and when.

Equipment for UK Pleasure Vessels

Make sure you are properly equipped before going on the water.

Buoyancy aids & lifejackets

Personal floatation devices come in two main forms buoyancy aids and lifejackets. Worn correctly a personal flotation device could save your life.

Fishing gear entanglements

A concern to boaters for many years and it has been on the RYA’s agenda for just as long.

Kill cord

Always, always, always use a kill cord and ensure that it is attached to the driver of the boat.

Cold Water Shock

Cold Water Shock is a real danger in water below 15°C. If you do find yourself in the water a life jacket could literally save your life.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries. You cannot see, feel, smell or taste carbon monoxide.


Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is frequently used as fuel for stoves on board boats. LPG is however potentially hazardous if the gas is not stored suitably or if the cooker and/or pipe work are badly maintained or damaged.


Once a fire on board a boat really takes hold, it is unlikely that it will be successfully tackled. It is therefore essential to observe good fire safety practice to minimise the risk of a fire occurring. Prevention is far better than cure.

Safety lines

A safety line (also known as harness line, lanyard or tether) is intended to provide reasonable assurance that the wearer will remain attached to a craft (sailing yacht or motor cruiser) under normal loading.

Safety helmets

Are you wearing one and should you be?


Although sailing may not be regarded as a contact sport, we all know that a hit on the head is all too common.

HMPE rope

Consider carefully the type of rope used for specific tasks.


Riding a Personal Watercraft (PWC) is a great way of getting out on the water. Doing it safely and responsibly makes it much more fun for everyone afloat.

Keep a friend or relative ashore appraised of your plans and any changes and have suitable means of communication on board for routine messaging and emergency situations.

Onboard communications

A means of calling for help in the event of an onboard emergency is essential for all boaters.

Calling for help

Guidelines for skippers of pleasure craft under 13.7m in length on the types of emergency distress alerting and locating equipment they can choose to carry based on distance from the coast and GMDSS communications sea areas.

GMDSS Sea Areas

GMDSS VHF DSC Procedures for Small Boat Users, including best practice guidelines and a map depicting the GMDSS Sea Areas.


The RYA SafeTrx app monitors your boat journeys and can alert emergency contacts should you fail to arrive on time.  It is an app for both Android and Apple iOS smartphones that allows you to track your journey on your phone.

Safety Resources and Useful Links

A collection of resources and useful links.

Better Boating

Love boating? Stay safe and enjoy your time afloat with guidance and top tips from the RYA and RNLI.

Safety Advisories

Safety advisory notices and videos from the RYA.

Emily's Code

Launched by Emily Gardner’s family, this simply code highlights factors that are essential for safe boating.


Safety is vital for the enjoyment of recreational boating at every level that it takes place.

This flowchart confirms who to contact at the RYA in the event of an incident.

This document provides best practice guidance for small commercial high speed craft.

A voluntary Code of Practice for water sports in the super yacht industry.