Know Your Limits

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. Your boating may be constrained for example by you and your knowledge, the suitability of the boat, the ability of your crew, available equipment or the weather.

The key is to identify your limits and work within them or take the appropriate action to overcome them before setting out. 

Your knowledge and ability: be honest with yourself and be safe. Going beyond your knowledge and ability can have disastrous consequences; many accidents happen as a result of trying to do too much before you are ready.

Stretch yourself: if your experience and ability restricts what you can safety tackle now, training is available to help you develop your skills and realise your ambitions.

RYA courses range from the absolute beginner to those looking to extend their knowledge for sailing boats, windsurfing, jet skis, powerboats and motor cruisers. Read more about RYA Courses.

Boat design and construction: if your boat is restricting what you can do, resist the urge to exceed its capabilities. Instead you might consider chartering a more suitable boat for a particular trip, upgrading the boat’s equipment or even changing the boat you own.  

Crew:  your crew’s knowledge and experience may also impact on your limits so you need to think about what they will be comfortable with – length of day, standing watch etc.

Equally, don’t let your crew pressurise you to do something you’re not comfortable with.

Alcohol, drugs, seasickness and illness:  the best piece of safety kit you have is you. Keep a clear head so you can react to any situation.

Alcohol will impair your coordination and your ability to think clearly, particularly in an emergency situation.  It influences your behaviour and affects your judgement.

The RYA urges all boaters not to mix alcohol and boating.

Care should also be taken when at anchor, transferring to and from a tender or when walking to and from a boat along a pontoon.

A person’s ability may similarly be impaired by drugs or when suffering from seasickness or other illnesses.

You cannot plan for all eventualities, but being mindful of the collective limits of the boat, skipper and crew, being honest with yourself and getting the necessary training will help you be safe and enjoy your boating more.