Before you set out on any trip, it is important that you plan your journey properly.
You must have an understanding of meteorology and navigation, ensure that you have sufficient equipment onboard your craft, and brief your crew on safety matters.
You must always take into account the experience and physical ability of your crew.
Being the skipper of a vessel means taking responsibility for your actions. Your safety and the safety of your crew are in your hands. You must match your knowledge to the conditions and never put either the crew or the vessel at risk.
You should ensure that you brief your crew on the following:
- man overboard drills
- how to operate flares
- sending a distress message
- launching the life raft
- leaving / returning to a mooring / berth
- how to anchor
- safety procedures
Engines, VHF and GPS
- operating and disabling the engine
- isolating the boats batteries and gas supply
- operating the VHF
- using the GPS system
- location of the first aid kit
- location of flares
- grab bag location
- fire extinguishers
- how to wear lifejackets and harnesses
- where to locate extra clothing
Limitations of vessel
You should consider whether your boat is capable of undertaking the proposed trip and be aware of the limitations of your craft. Do not overestimate its speed or ability to handle difficult conditions. Remember that the sea and weather can change rapidly.
You should also make sure that there is sufficient safety equipment and stores on board.
Weather and tidal observations
You should always check the weather forecast before you set off, and get regular updates if you are planning to be out for any length of time. Be prepared to change your plans or cancel the trip if the forecast is unfavourable.
Check the tidal predictions for your trip and ensure that they fit with what you are planning to do and the route you are planning to take. If the tide turns to a wind-against-tide direction, the sea may become much rougher. An ebbing tide may create dangerous areas of shallow water.
All vessels in local waters should:
- not exceed 5 knots at any time within the harbour, closer than 200 metres of the water's edge in any bay or within 50m of any beach lifeguard-flagged areas or around Les Ecrehous, Les Dirouilles and Minquiers
- not tow anyone without having an experienced person accompanying the driver, to supervise the person being towed
- not use the craft for anything other than what it was designed for by the manufacturer
Further information on this can be found through the following link:
Download General Direction 1: Harbours (Inshore Safety) (Jersey) Regulations 2012 (size 273kb)
Make sure you are familiar with any navigational dangers you may encounter during your boating trip. Check up-to-date charts and a current pilotage book or almanac.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, seek advice before you set sail.
It is vital that you know, and remain familiar with, the meanings of different navigational marks.
A precautionary area for all vessels exists off St Helier.
St Helier approaches
All vessels should approach St Helier using the approved routes.
You should ensure that you carry the correct equipment during any voyage. Pleasure vessels in excess of 7 metres long are legally required to carry the following:
- a properly adjusted standard magnetic compass
- a hand bearing or other compass
- charts and navigational publications
- radar reflectors
Contingency plans and information ashore
Always have a contingency plan. Before you go, you should consider the places where you can take refuge if conditions deteriorate or you suffer an incident or injury.
It is sensible and good practice to make sure you are not over-reliant on your GPS unit and can navigate yourself to safety if it should fail to work.
You should also make sure that someone ashore knows your plans and understands what to do if they become concerned for your wellbeing.
Jersey Coastguard will receive, log and when requested amend traffic reports (TRs) received from pleasure vessels on VHF 82 or by telephone on +44 (0) 1534 447705.