Stay Safe!

Tips to help you enjoy the day on your boat, not ours.

Please don't take unnecessary risks on the water. Plan. Equip. Check. Enjoy.

Naturally a good day for us means no-one had cause to seek our help. The open sea is a fantastic place to explore and enjoy while expanding your knowledge and building on your experience. But do remember, it can quickly turn on you. Know your route and your danger points. Keep an eye on the tides and weather. Have an emergency action plan and make sure someone knows where your heading and when you expect to arrive. And if you think you might need to head for shelter, that’s the point to start heading in!​

  • Make sure your boat is in good condition, serviced and suitable for the passage you are intending to take.
  • Do you have sufficient fuel on board plus spare fuel for an emergency?
  • Do you have a selection of basic engine and electrical spares plus tools on board?
  • Is there a lifejacket and harness (if applicable) for everyone on board?
  • Do you have suitable, in-date safety and first aid equipment on board?
  • What races and events are taking place on the water today?
  • What are the tidal and weather predications for today? How will they affect your journey?
  • What clothing will you need? Remember, it is cooler off-shore than on land and changeable.
  • Do you have up-to-date charts with you? You can’t navigate with the ‘map’ on a tea-towel.
  • Do you need to take any additional equipment for the passage?
  • Are your hand-held radios and mobile phones fully charged?
  • Do you or someone onboard have a valid radio licence?
  • Do you have an alternative means of propulsion? Would it help to have a set of oars?
  • Do you have a strong tow-rope and strong towing point on the fore end of the boat?
  • Do you have basic seamanship and navigation skills?
  • Do you understand the rules of the road? Your lives depend on it!
  • Do you understand how to use the safety equipment on board?
  • Do you have an understanding of your boat and the areas most likely to breakdown?
  • Don’t risk the lives of others. Get yourself trained. Enquire with the RYA on 023 8060 4100
  • Check the forecast and tides. How will they affect your passage? Is there enough time?
  • What alternative ports are available along the route?
  • Who will keep watch during the voyage?
  • Who knows that you are taking the trip?
  • Do they have details of your vessel type, name, passage, timings, and who is onboard?
  • Have you completed a CG66 making it easier for the Coastguard to help you?
  • What food and drink will be required? Will you have enough if you breakdown off-shore?
  • Do you have frequencies and telephone numbers for your destination and emergency ports?
  • Does everyone aboard know how to operate the safety equipment? If you have people on board that do not know the vessel or are new to the sea, conduct a safety briefing.
  • Wear life jackets and use harnesses (where applicable) at all times.
  • Keep watch for other traffic and follow the rules of the road.
  • Maintain a listening watch on Ch.16. Listen to the Coastguard’s weather updates.
  • Remember, Ch.16 is for calling and distress only. Inter-ship conversation should undertaken on the correct channel. 
    Radio checks and routine Coastguard enquiries on Ch.67 in the Solent and Ch.73 in the Portland area please.
  • Keep an eye on the sea and the sky. Take shelter in good time.
  • React in good time and do nothing that will knowingly endanger your passengers and crew.
  • And remember. It’s better to seek help than to leave something you are unsure about which could become far more serious later.
  • Remain calm! Take charge of the situation. What sort of assistance is going to be needed? Is loss of life or the vessel probable?
  • If there is immediate danger to anyone’s life or the vessel itself, send a Mayday distress call on Channel 16. If there is no grave danger, you should send a Pan-pan.
  • The format of a Mayday message is as follows:
    MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, This is (name of vessel repeated three times)
    MAYDAY, MY POSITION IS (give your GPS latitude and longitude or compass bearing from a well known object)
    I AM (state problem such as on fire, sinking, etc.) WITH (number of) PERSONS ON BOARD, I REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE
  • The format of a Pan-pan message is similar but without the urgency element as follows:
    PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, This is (name of vessel repeated three times)
    PAN-PAN, MY POSITION IS (give your GPS latitude and longitude or compass bearing from a well known object)
    I AM (state problem such as non-threatening injury requiring ambulance, extinguished fire, etc.) WITH (number of) PERSONS ON BOARD
  • Once contact with the Coastguard is established, follow their instruction and continue to remain as calm as you can. Stay on Channel 16 and try to talk in a calm and clear manner. It will help.
  • If a helicopter evacuation is advised, have someone clear the decks of all loose items. Anything that is not fixed down should be taken below decks. The pilot will offer further advice once communication has been established. In the Solent, the usual call sign for the Coastguard helicopter in a rescue situation is Rescue One Zero Four.
  • Don’t forget to inform your onshore guardian of your arrival.
Useful Information
Useful VHF Radio Channels​
  • 06 Sally Water Taxi (IOW)
  • 06 Poole Harbour Water Taxis
  • 10 Cowes Oil Pollution Control
  • 11 QMH Portsmouth
  • 12 Southampton VTS
  • 12 Southampton Harbour Patrol
  • 13 QMH Portsmouth (In Harbour Comms)
  • 14 Portsmouth Harbour Radio
  • 14 Chichester Harbour Radio
  • 14 Poole Harbour Control
  • 15 Yarmouth Harbour Master
  • 16 Ship to Ship Calling & Distress
  • 17 Sovereign Lock
  • 67 Solent Coastguard Routine
  • 68 Hamble Radio (Harbourmaster)
  • 68 Isle of Wight Harbour
  • 69 Cowes Harbour Radio
  • 69 Cowes Chain Ferry
  • 69 Folly Ferry
  • 73 Portland Coastguard Routine
  • 77 Water Taxi (Hamble & Cowes)
  • 80 Marinas
  • This list is subject to change and should not be used in place of any official publication.