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Sea Safety

Coastguard & Navigation

On this page you will find comprehensive information, to help you ensure that your boat, yourself and any passengers are safe before and during any trip.

Safety equipment

While it is certainly possible that you may never be in need of safety equipment, you will be thankful that you do in an emergency situation.

Essentials

Other important equipment

It is also advisable to have the following safety equipment stored on board. They will almost certainly be useful in aiding a quick and safe resolution to any dangerous situations.

Alcohol and drugs

Guernsey Coastguard strongly urge all mariners in charge of vessels to be aware of their responsibility for the safety of their vessel and its crew, and the adverse effect that even a small amount of alcohol and some prescription or recreational drugs will have on their judgement. We strongly recommend that mariners should not consume such substances whilst in charge of a vessel for the duration of the entire journey. 

Fire safety on boats

Take the time to read through the following information:

pdf icon Fire Safety on Boats Leaflet [923kb]

Water skiing permits

Permits are issued by the States of Guernsey's Agriculture, Countryside, and Land Management Services.

Water skiing permit form

Speed limits and restricted zones

Live Round Firing

Keep clear of the Fort Le Marchant firing range when the red flags are flying. On the day of firing, navigational warnings are broadcast by Guernsey Coastguard on VHF Channel 20.

The Humps and Brehon Tower

Boat owners and vessel operators are requested not to land on the Humps and to avoid the immediate vicinity between the 1st January and 31st July inclusive. These restrictions are necessary to protect the important breeding seabird colonies on these islets, which lie to the north-west of Herm. Boat owners, including kayaks etc, are also asked not to land at Brehon Tower at any time of the year. The interior of the tower is in an extremely dangerous condition and for safety reasons the public are advised to stay away.

Boat maintenance

A thorough maintenance routine can prevent many rescue situations by ensuring that your boat and its equipment can perform to the best of their ability.

The two most important items that can go wrong on a boat are the engine and the bilge pump. Both quite likely rely on the electrical system, which as a result of salt and damp is very susceptible to corrosion. This makes the electrical system a priority of boat maintenance.

All electrical lines and fixings should be installed with the aim of keeping them as dry as possible. Any connections should be kept clean and protected with water-repellent, non-conductive grease or a corrosion inhibitor.

As mentioned, a dual-charging system or a spare battery kept charged up is also important.

After the electrical system, the motor is the most important as for many boats it's the only means of power. You don't have to be a mechanic to ensure reliable operation. Regularly check the condition of hoses for both fuel and cooling systems as they are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperature changes throughout the year and can degrade and crack. A quick visual check of all the hoses can ensure that they haven't begun to leak, or are likely to in the future. As long as an engine has a consistent supply of air, fuel through its hoses, a strong electrical supply and suitable cooling it will continue to run.

Fuel & oil

Ensuring oil levels are correct will keep the engine working well. Topping off your fuel tanks before leaving the harbour is best, however if you can't do that, ensure you have enough fuel for the distance you intend to cover with enough extra to allow for any changes.

Pre season checklist

Do:

  1. Standing rigging: If it's more than 10 years old, your insurance company might not cover it and it might need to be replaced. Have it surveyed and be secure in the knowledge that it won't let you down.
  2. Running rigging: Check for wear and chafe, particularly around wire-to-rope joints and Talurit splices.

Don't:

 

Gift ideas with a lifesaving twist   

If you have a coastal-lover in your life, from paddleboarder, kayaker to coastal walker, here's some gift ideas with lifesaving potential to help with your Christmas shopping.

Gifts you can't put a price on - for all budgets 

Some of the items are free while others cost from just a few pounds. Whatever your budget, give a gift that will help keep your loved ones safe out on the water and around our coastlines all year - a gift not just for Christmas.

It's a great idea to take a fully charged phone to the coast so you can call Guernsey Coastguard and ask us for help if you need it.  

If you're heading out on the water, we recommend taking a phone in a waterproof pouch and keeping it within reach. They're widely available at outdoor/watersport retailers and online.

Lifejackets can improve survival rates in cold water by four times and should be worn by those on sailing yachts and motor cruisers as well as people fishing off rocks and piers. Some have locator beacons which signal your location to the emergency services and a light that helps your chance of being spotted after dark. Get the right size with a light and whistle, ensuring it is appropriate for your activity.  

Buoyancy aids are suitable when there's a chance you might get wet - for example, kayakers, canoeists, rowers and dinghy sailors. Find out more lifejackets and buoyancy aids

A Personal Locator Beacon, or PLB, will alert the emergency services that you need help and where you are if you get into difficulty on land, sea or anywhere in the world. Make sure it is registered and your information is up to date

A lifesaving gift that doesn't cost a thing. Download the RYA SafeTrx safety app onto your loved one's Apple or Android phone. For all sea and coastal users, the app monitors your activity and alerts emergency contacts should you fail to return home on time. There's also a registration only option available online. Find out more.

If you know someone who enjoys a cold water dip or open water swim, why not get them a bright swimming cap to increase their visibility in the water or even a tow float. Get them a changing robe, woolly hats, big towels - all things to help keep them warm after a chilly swim.  

It's important to be able to call for help and have the means to keep as comfortable as possible while waiting for help to arrive. A spare mobile phone battery pack is always useful, an LED torch can be used to signal for help in poor light or darkness while a vacuum flask or travel mug containing a warm drink will keep your spirits up. Costing from just a few pounds, a survival blanket or bag is compact and lightweight and will help provide cover against chilly winds and rain.