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

via Hamble Lifeboat

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!

Please do not take unnecessary  risks whilst on and around the Water

Plan your trip, Check your equipment 

and enjoy


Before You Depart

  • 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?


If Something Goes Wrong

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.


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


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 Seven Five.

During The Journey

  • 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.

  • 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.