If you are planning an extended cruise or ocean passage, it is vital that should give thought to packing a grab bag for immediate emergency use – but what should you actually be packing? 

A grab bag should contain emergency items that, should the worst occur and you have to abandon your vessel, will assist in getting you rescued and help you to survive in your liferaft until you are rescued.

If you do not have a liferaft, then your chances of surviving may be significantly lower depending on the location, the weather conditions and the water temperature. Each manufacturer will include different equipment within a liferaft and this should be considered when you decide what to pack in your grab bag. Liferafts built and certified to ISO 9650 are packed with equipment according to the time likely to be spent on board before rescue. The list is comprehensive and certain items that have a shelf-life may be carried separately in a grab bag.

All grab bags should be stowed in an easily accessible location. The grab bag should be brightly coloured and able to float for 30 min in the water when fully packed. The grab bag should have a means of attaching it to an inflated raft.

It is worth preparing a list of the things you will need to put in a grab bag- assuming there is time – in priority order. The Royal Ocean Racing Club specifies a number of items in its Special Regulations for offshore racing which a useful place to start. The goal should be to ensure you are rescued having spent the shortest possible time in the liferaft. The order of priority is therefore:

  • Items that will indicate you are in distress and assist with your rescue, if you cannot do this then no one is going to look for you
  • Items for survival whilst waiting for rescue

Each liferaft, dependent on make and model, will have differing additional items included so it is important to check what may already be packed.

There are a variety of items you could pack which will indicate you are in distress and can attract attention: EPIRB/PLB, flares, EVDS, a waterproof handheld VHF, a powerful waterproof torch, spare batteries, a strobe light, a whistle and a satellite phone are all useful. A handheld GPS will help you to keep track of your movements in the liferaft.

You must also think about your needs for survival. The basic requirements are high energy food and water (a hand operated water maker may be useful). But you may need a spare pair of spectacles, warm and waterproof clothing, sun glasses, sun protection, lip salve, medication and antibiotics, seasickness tablets and a basic fishing kit. You should also collect together vital personal items that you will need once rescued, such as a passport, credit cards, keys, mobile phone, money, ship’s papers and insurance documents.

To find out more about how to keep yourself and everyone on-board safe whilst on the water, visit the Safe Boating hub.

Return to Boating Guidance – Scotland

Updated 3rd July 2020

General Guidance For Boating Activity

Update to Phase 2 –Phase 3

Key notes which apply to all boating activities:  

Participants should be aware that the easing of restrictions in the phase 2 update will come into effect on the 3rd of July. Outdoor Hospitality is proposed to come into effect on the 6th July this does not mean that all facilities offering outdoor hospitality will opeimmediately

 Owners and operators will require time to put plans in place to ensure the safety of participantsstaff and volunteers. Indoor facilities will remain closedYou shoulanticipate no changing and showering facilities available.   

Training Centres will require time to consider all the implications of opening facilities/venues and put plans in place to re-engage staff and to set up operations that ensure the safety of participants, staff and volunteers. Please be respectful of local challenges 

Cleaning information

We recommend you carry and use hand sanitiser which should be at least 60% alcohol based. Detergent wipes need to be appropriate for the surface they are being used on. Cleaning products should conform to EN14476 standard or any detergent will need to be followed by chlorine releasing agent. 

Be mindful of our fragile marine environment, do not release bleach products into the water and dispose of used wipes, gloves and masks responsibly. In addition, it may be worthwhile looking at best practice for general cleaning of equipment via  – The Green Blue.

Physical distancing requirements are still in place
People must stay a minimum distance of 2 metres apart when meeting others from outside their household. 

Travel distance limit relaxed, please note any local restrictions 

Meeting others is limited

You may meet outside with people from up to two other households (including an ‘extended household’) per day but the total number of people meeting must not be more than 8. 

For under 12s (0-11): Children under 12 are not required to maintain physical distancing with other children or adults outdoors. The number of overall households and individuals in a group is as above. 

For 12 and over (12-17): The number of overall households and individuals in a group is as above However, there is no limit to the number of these groups in a day providing that each contact aligns with the guidance. Physical distancing applies. 

Overnight stays at anchor are now permitted.

Before embarking on your journey check local restrictions with mooring owners/associations/harbour masters.

 #Respect the destinationPlan ahead, be considerate on arrival and think of the locals.

For Inland waterway users follow the link for further useful informationScottish Canals

General RYA Principles applying to all boating activity:

We will always follow Government advice – Scottish Government  

  • The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and well being and to minimising pressure on front line services.  We have a collective and individual role to play by following the Scottish Government guidelines 

We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach 

  • Considerate of others: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and local communities.  Do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services 
  • Conservative of risk: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating


  • Individuals should sail singly or as a crew with members of their household group. If physical distancing can be maintained, you may sail with up to two other households on a boat and with no more than eight people.
  • Participants are encouraged to use their own personal equipment during this phase, or to have equipment allocated to them for exclusive use during a set period. This equipment should be cleaned appropriately before being allocated to another user.
  • Participants must only take to the water in conditions well within their ability and which assume a self-sufficient approach to their activity.
  • Competitions should only be undertaken locally and informally at your own club where household, physical distancing and hygiene measures are in place.
  • Check your equipment thoroughly, particularly engines and fuel, as they may not have been used for some time. Consider using a device to keep in touch such as RYA SafeTRX on a mobile or carry a VHF and notifying someone ashore of your intended activity, anticipated time afloat and calling them when you are back ashore safely.

Plan –Your Activity

Planning your boating activity is key to ensuring you protect yourself and others around you. 

  • Consider your activity type, destination and timescales.
  • Consider your options for changing pre and post activity.
  • Check the weather, sea state, location of launching and the location you may be visiting during your activity. 
  • Check your destination availability – Do you have car parking availability? Is your intended mooring available? Have you considered rural community impact? Have you taken enough supplies to not go ashore or utilise destination shops?
  • Do you have a contingency plan?

All these factors will help you support your decisions to whether you are able to participate in your activity. Planning to make your activity fun, safe and enjoyable is equally as important as planning to reduce the potential spread of COVID 19 

Prepare –Your Craft

  • Have you checked your craft is ready and appropriate for your activity?
  • Have you checked your personal life saving equipment?
  • Have you checked your communication systems?
  • Have you planned the journey?
  • Do you have a shore contact?

Deliver –Your Activity

  • Be considerate of others on and off the water.
  • Be conservative in your approach to your sport and do not take any unnecessary risk that may put you or otherin danger
  • Avoid busy areas where social distancing is not possible. 

Wwoulrecommend that you do not launch at locations where yocannomaintain physicadistancing for example crowded beaches or hot spots.

Review –Your Activity

  • How did it go? 
  • What impact have you had on your destination?
  • Would you change any elements of the trip/activity/sport?

Consider how you can ensure you play your part in reducing the spread of COVID 19. By considering these factors you will be able to ensure your next visit to the sporting location will be potentially easier, safer and more enjoyable. 

Finally we provide online sessions for members, clubs and training centres where we maybe able to answer your queries and hear from others around specific issues as we return to boating. Look at our Facebook events page for more details.


Face coverings can reduce the spread of Covid-19. The Scottish Government issued
guidance on 11 May 2020 about their use. This includes use in enclosed spaces
where it may be difficult to ensure physical distancing from other people and on
public transport from 22 June. As lockdown measures reduce in-line with the national
route-map, their use will be compulsory in shops from 10 July:
However, people should not wait till then to start wearing masks. Local feedback
suggests the use of face coverings is low throughout Argyll and Bute. Reasons for
this may be related to people not having access to face masks, not knowing how to
use them, or not understanding the benefits of wearing them.
The Caring for People Tactical Partnership which was set up in response to the
emergency in March is issuing a call to local community groups in Argyll and Bute to
help promote the use of face coverings. This help includes:
 Crafting groups to make face masks;
 Local community groups to be a point of contact for the delivery and
distribution of face masks; and
 Local community volunteers to be advocates and champions to promote the
benefits of wearing face coverings and role model this in their own
Face coverings in the community do not have to be set “hospital” standard and there
are lots of designs available online. Masks are more likely to be effective if they
consist of more than one layer of different fabrics. They can be made easily at home
from old clothes like t-shirts or bed linen. Have a look at these links for ideas:
Further information is available by emailing the NHS Highland Public
Health Department in Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care
Partnership at: High-UHB.ABHealthImprovement@nhs.net



The First Ministers announcement on Thursday brought a little good news in relation to boating but was unfortunately short of what we had hoped might be forthcoming.


While much of the restrictions of Phase 1 remain in place, allowing those who have been shielding to begin to participate in outdoor activity is a welcome position which will undoubtedly bring more individuals back to boating.  Being able to meet with up to two other households offers opportunities for a greater mix of crew aboard and it is increasingly feasible for training activity to be delivered.  Most notably there is a concession on local informal competition which will please our racing oriented contingency.


As you might expect RYA Scotland has been working hard on your behalf in the background with the intention of securing the reduction of restrictions most affecting boating.  Much of our efforts were rewarded in Phase 1 when it was RYA Scotland and the Scottish Canoe Association who successfully secured the inclusion of water sports in the allowable forms of exercise.  Phase 2 has not been quite what we had hoped and I wanted to let you know what we have tried to secure albeit unsuccessfully.


In conjunction with a number of other sports and industry bodies we had asked that the current travel restrictions be eased to allow people to get to their boats.  This has been returned with a very simple ‘no’.  We are told that unrestricted travel is the single greatest risk of enabling the virus to jump from one community to another and is simply not up for debate until the medical and scientific advice support this easing.


We were fully expecting that Phase 2 would allow for clubs to open ‘ancillary facilities’ specifically from our perspective, toilets.  We clarified this understanding and had prepared our guidance to reflect this.  However, yesterday, this simply disappeared from the revised Routemap and subsequent clarification has confirmed that all club indoor facilities must remain closed until Phase 3.  Again the medical and scientific advice remains that the transmission of the virus is much more likely indoors compared to outdoors and consequently club indoor facilities must remain closed.


We had also hoped that there would be scope for bar provision outdoors (beer gardens) and galley operations for takeaway, both being important sources of income for a number of clubs and centres but the announcement yesterday clarified that these are not available for now.  The Scottish Government are looking into these options further and we will keep abreast of any developments for clubs.


RYA Scotland had specifically asked for consideration to be given to allowing overnight on board at anchor or on a mooring (which is not your own mooring). Despite providing considerable evidence that this would be a safe and limited extension for boating activity, we have been advised that overnight aboard is not permitted in Phase 2.  Anchoring briefly for a break during the day continues to be acceptable.

We now expect that overnight aboard will only become available in Phase 3.

We have not been given an explanation but it was always a possibility that the perceived risk to remote communities and the different treatment of boating compared to other activities might affect this decision and we believe this may be the position.


I hope this gives you some insight to the work we undertake on your behalf.  While we may not always be successful we do continue to represent our members and the wider boating community and I would like to note my personal thanks to the staff team and the volunteers who have been exceptionally busy these last three months.  None of this is possible without your continued membership or affiliation and I am deeply grateful for your continued support through what are difficult and challenging times for us all.


The guidance from RYA Scotland is available on our website and distils the raft of guidance documents from the Scottish Government and sportscotland into information relevant to clubs, training centres and individuals across Scotland’s boating community.  They have been approved by sportscotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and I hope they prove helpful.


If you have any further queries I encourage you to get in touch and I do hope we will see you on the water soon.




James Allan

Chief Executive Officer

Royal Yachting Association Scotland

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LNTM NO 10/20
BA Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised that Loch Long Salmon Ltd has contracted Partrac Ltd. to deploy one seabed mooring frame containing an acoustic measuring device for period of 90 days, the position given below in Table 1 and Figure 3. This is to measure the water column tidal current profile throughout this period.

2.The seabed frame is 1.5 x 1.5m and will be 0.8m proud of the seabed (Figure1). The location will be marked by a 75cm diameter yellow riser buoy (Figure 2)

3. The measurement device is scheduled to be deployed week commencing 15th June 2020 and by the 22nd June. The works will be completed using the vessel Mary M (Figure 4) supplied and operated by GSS Marine Ltd.

Figure 1. Example Seabed Frame Figure 2. Marker Buoy

4. Mariners are requested to keep a distance of 250m away from the surface marker buoy, through this period.

Figure 3: Deployment location of Current Meter Buoy Loch Long

Figure 4: Mary M (GSS)

5. Further notice will be given when the current meter has been recovered following the 90 day monitoring period.

6. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

7. Next CWM 11/20.

Tuesday 16 Jun 2020

David Lightfoot OBE MSM AFNI
Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde

Boating, swimming and other sea-based activities are now allowed once again in Scotland under the new guidelines, but, please remember to respect the coastline.

Whether you’re local or not, whatever your ability or experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does.

The majority of beaches will not be lifeguarded. If you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away and we all need to follow the rules.

Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.

Visit www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19 to check for the latest advice and guidance.

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LNTM No 09/20
                                                                                                                                                                                            BA Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised that the first of two phases to construct 4 Aids to Navigation (AtoN) Beacons in Loch Long will commence on the 1st June 2020 lasting for approximately 4 weeks. The AtoN Beacons are being installed to effectively guide vessels to and from the new Glen Mallan Jetty following its construction.

2.Volkerstevin have been contracted to undertake the works which will include piling, marine construction and diving. Vessels will include crane barges, jack-up barge, supply barges, multi-cat work boats and a safety boat. All vessels associated with the works will display appropriate signals as required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. The following vessels will be used to carry out the marine operations:


Marine Vessel Particulars – ConstructionWorks
Type Owner Name Size (m) RegistrationNumber
CraneBarges LandfallBV NP549 60 x22 N/A
Jack-up Barge Combi Float C-726 31 X 20 N/A
SupplyBarges LandfallBV Lastdrager 7 50 x14 N/A
Multicats GSS MarineServices MeganM 24 x8.54 IMO6515473
AileenM 25 x9.9 IMO9570888



Safety Boat/ CrewTransfer




Commercial RibCharter








11 x3.3m






3. Phase 1 of the works will be the installation of 4 piles for each AtoN Beacon to +4.0m above Chart Datum (CD), each pile being marked with a flashing yellow navigational light with the character Fl(2) 6s at +5.0m above CD. Following completion of phase 1 the piles will remain in this temporary condition until phase 2 in September 2020 at which point the top sections of the beacons and the sectored lights will be installed completing the works. A separate LNTM will be issued nearer the time giving details of the beacon commissioning process, and the change over of the Cnap Pt Lt headmark’

4. Please see below co-ordinate table and chart extracts of each AtoN Beacon in the order in which they will be installed:


 AtoN  Latitude  Longitude
 Mallan No 3  56 7.522635N 04 49.223771W
 Mallan No 1  56 6.800018N 04 51.098485W
(Approach headmark) ‘Cnap Point Lt’  56 7.375280N 04 50.193924W
 Mallan No 2  56 7.199451N 04 49.583375W

Extracts from BA Chart 3746 showing the AtoN positions


5. Whilst the vessels are operational in the associated areas, they will maintain a listening watch on VHF Channels 12,16 and 73.

6. Mariners are to navigate with caution when transiting in this area and reduce wash adjacent to the works. MOD Police will monitor activity in the area.

7. Further notice will be given when phase 1 is complete.

8. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

9. Next CWM 10/20.

See charts on this link:-

View notice online

Dear RYA member,


As we near Boris Johnson’s anticipated announcement this Sunday (10/05/2020) where we expect to hear the Government’s plans for the easing of lockdown restrictions (for England), we are working on a range of guidance and resources to help our members and the wider boating community prepare for a return to the water. These resources will ensure you can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible.


While the detail of Government plans for easing restrictions are not yet known, we are keen to share with you the following ‘guiding principles’ that will shape our detailed response:


1.  We will always follow Government guidance


The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and well-being and to minimising pressure on the frontline services. We all have a role to play by following the Government guidelines.


We will provide advice to show how the latest measures on social distancing, hygiene and travel can be applied to boating, showing examples of the level of activity that each phase will allow.


We are mindful that Home Country Governments may issue their own phased plans and measures. Additionally, as we have seen to date, local authorities, harbour authorities or marinas may also interpret guidance differently. We will carefully review any industry specific guidance that impacts on boating activities, such as advice for the sport and hospitality sectors, as well as paying particular attention to any guidance for specific sections of our community.


Where the application of Government guidance is unclear, we will seek clarification on your behalf so that all boaters and activity organisers are kept informed.


2. We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach


•  Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.


Consider the local area and whether there is a risk that you could put extra pressure on the RNLI or frontline services. For example, are you in a very remote location? Is the area very busy? Look out for others such as families on beaches or people on other boats and think about how your activity could help or hinder them. For example, windsurfers or kiteboarders who launch from the beach should give extra space to beach users. Boaters should keep an eye out for others, and be ready to assist if trouble arises.


•  Conservative: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.


Our guidance on safety remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan. As we start to get back on the water, we will be advising boaters to take an even more conservative approach when planning to go afloat.


Looking ahead


We share our members’ enthusiasm for a return to boating once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions. Getting afloat undoubtedly benefits both mental and physical well-being and we believe that with appropriate measures, a basic level of safe and responsible activity can be delivered to get you active on the water.


We remain committed to representing the interests of the recreational boating community and we eagerly await the Government’s announcement on Sunday.


Our members, affiliated clubs, classes, and recognised training centres will receive a further update as soon as we have reviewed the Government’s plans and their impact on boating activities.


Thank you for your continued support and don’t forget to visit our Coronavirus hub for all the latest news and advice.


Take care and stay safe. 

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Stress-Free Mooring is the fourth book in our popular Stress-Free series. In this month’s blog, author Duncan Wells explores the genesis of the book and shares some of his expert mooring advice, complete with helpful photos.

Read Duncan’s post – Making mooring stress-free – on our blog now and get your copy of Stress-Free Mooring here.

Click on the here link above for discounted price.

Guidance for boaters (updated 01/05/20)

As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, the Government message to tackle the spread of the virus is clear, STAY HOME – PROTECT THE NHS – SAVE LIVES. The UK Government and devolved administrations must review the lockdown measures at least once every 21 days. The first review took place on 16 April and the lockdown was extended for three weeks until 7 May when the restrictions and requirements set out in the regulations must be reviewed again. Currently, the Government has said that the overall length of the lockdown could be around three months and warned it might only be “adjusted” rather than lifted altogether.

We are strictly following the Government guidance, so our staff are working from home but you can still contact us on our published telephone numbers and email addresses as all operations continue at this time.

Recreational boating in the UK

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 have now been enacted to bring in powers to enable the Government and its agencies to manage the Coronavirus crisis in the UK. Provision 6(1) of the Regulations deals with restrictions on movements and states ‘during the period of emergency no one may leave the place where they live without reasonable excuse’. Examples of what constitutes a reasonable excuse are listed in Provision 6(2) of the Regulations. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations but the restrictions and requirements are essentially the same, however, in Wales it is now illegal to exercise more than once a day and to do so is potentially a criminal offence.

The Prime Minister’s statement recognised that “it is very important for people’s mental and physical well-being that they should be able to go out and exercise if they possibly can” and the Regulations permit people to leave home ‘to take exercise either alone or with members of their household’. The Government has made it clear that such exercise should be taken locally to home and within the guidelines for social distancing. It has also asked us not to travel unnecessarily, although the Regulations themselves do not prescribe this.

The Government has advised that marinas should be closed in line with caravan parks, although marina operators are not specifically required to do so under the Regulations. We have increasingly seen harbour authorities and navigation authorities introduce measures and guidance in respect of recreational boating. Please monitor the website of the organisation that manages the facilities where your boat is kept.

Whatever your activity there is the additional concern that if something goes wrong, however unlikely that may seem, there is the potential that you will put further and avoidable pressure on the emergency services. These are exceptional times and the RYA calls on all recreational boaters, not only to comply with the Regulations, but to act responsibly and adhere to the Government’s Regulations to help limit the spread of the virus.

If significant numbers of people are seen to be taking part in recreational boating or going to their boats for whatever excuse they can think of while the general movement restrictions are in force then the Government might see fit to introduce a specific prohibition on recreational boating. Given that regulators are often much more reluctant to lift prohibitions than they are to impose them, recreational boating is likely to be able to resume more quickly if it is not specifically prohibited.

Private boat insurance during the Coronavirus lockdown

With the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing the country into lockdown, the RYA has received a considerable number of enquiries from those who are not able to gain access to their boats because most marinas are now shut.

Many insurance policies will include conditions relating to “keeping the boat in a seaworthy condition” and will have exclusions relating to “lack of maintenance” and “gradual ingress of water”. In the current lockdown, the majority of us will not be able to visit our boats for long periods and there is an obvious risk that losses may occur which would usually be preventable through regular attendance and maintenance.

The RYA’s advice to all our members is that you MUST check your insurance policy with your insurers no matter what the policy itself actually states. This is because in the majority of cases it will pre-date the Covid-19 pandemic measures that have now been put in place. Our understanding is that most, if not all, will be willing to extend the period when boats are left unattended and we would be surprised if any insurer refused to extend this provision, although there is likely to be a condition that the vessel must have been adequately maintained prior to lockdown. We have published a lockdown insurance update from Bishop Skinner Marine on the RYA website.

Access to boats in marinas

The RYA is making representations to Government and the marinas sector trade body, The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) regarding the issues for boat owners arising out of the closure of marinas. This reflects the concerns of members who have contacted us about their inability to access their boats and protect their assets. We are acutely aware that worries about boat security, maintenance and the impact on insurance cover are all are creating anxiety and stress for boat owners at this time.

We are also making the case that there are many people who could visit their boat while adhering strictly to Government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing. For many, the opportunity to spend time on their boat and possibly do some simple maintenance or cleaning would greatly enhance their well-being and provide peace of mind in respect of the issues of concern.

Marina charges

We have also seen a surge in calls and emails from people who are suddenly facing significant price increases from some marina operators even though they cannot access their boats. Many who have been on winter contracts are being told that fees will be increased to summer rates from 1 April. Some who were due to move their boats have been told they will move to a daily rate until they do so.

This issue has been raised with TYHA who have coordinated discussion within the industry and it is understood that many marina operators are now in dialogue with berth holders and taking a reasonable approach. The RYA advises boat owners to monitor the website of the marina where their boat is kept and to enter into dialogue with the marina manager. Any members needing further help on this issue should email cruising@rya.org.uk.

UK Canals and Rivers

Update on 16 April 2020: With Government extending the Coronavirus lockdown period to 9 May 2020, the Canal & River Trust is accordingly extending the suspension of the normal requirement for boats to move every 14 days to 9 May.  During this period, boaters do not need to contact the Trust to tell them that they will be staying in one location for more than 14 days.  The Canal & River Trust has produced a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions regarding coronavirus and UK inland boating.

Following the recent announcement from the Prime Minister about the UK’s heightened response to the Coronavirus emergency, the Environment Agency (EA) has taken the difficult decision to introduce limits to the use of its waterways to stop all non-essential travel. As such, the EA is asking the owners of all boats kept or used on its managed waterways not to make any journeys on their boats, other than to access essential services and facilities.

The joint owners of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) have extended the temporary extension to safety certificates for those craft requiring an examination to 30 April 2020. Navigation Authorities and licensing bodies will maintain a record of those boats having extended BSS recognition and will still expect that owners of boats with BSS extensions to have a BSS Examination as soon as possible once restrictions are lifted.

Staying safe is essential and keeping others safe a responsibility, so boat owners must continue to maintain their boats in accordance with the BSS Requirements. Any owner wanting to check that their boat continues to be compliant can run through the requirements using the BSS Examination Checking Procedures found at www.boatsafetyscheme.org/boat-examination-and-certification/.

Owners are advised to check any implications for their boat’s insurance cover with the broker or underwriter linked to the temporary licensing waiver of BSS Certification.

Canal & River Trust to extend boat licences by one month

The Canal & River Trust is extending all boat licences by one month in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.  The situation will be assessed again in a month’s time when a further view will be taken about the extent and likely timescales around the Coronavirus disruption on boating.

All boat licences that are due to expire at the end of April will be extended by one month to run until the end of May.  All other current boat licences will be similarly extended by a month from their current expiry date.

With the crisis affecting the Trust’s income and funds available to look after the network, it is asking those able to afford it to ‘donate’ the extra month’s licence fee back to the Trust – using the ‘donate’ button on the charity’s website.

A message from Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust which has been sent to recipients of the Trust’s Boaters Update, is available online.

Recreational boating abroad

On 30 March the Government updated it global travel notice which advised UK nationals travelling abroad to return to the UK while there are still commercial flights available. The global travel notice now advises against all non-essential travel abroad due to unprecedented international border closures and travel restrictions being imposed without advance warning.

This update reflects the pace at which international travel is becoming more difficult with the closure of borders, airlines suspending flights, airports closing, exit bans and further restrictions being introduced daily. If applicable, British travellers should contact their tour operator or airline now.

The RYA advises recreational boaters to follow the advice from the UK Government. We are aware that this may be difficult, particularly when considering where to locate boats for the forthcoming hurricane season and because coastal states are increasingly closing their borders including to recreational craft, or as a minimum imposing a period of self-isolation or quarantine.

The right of a foreign ship to stop and anchor in coastal waters should it find itself in distress is explicitly referred to in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Where safety of life is involved, the provisions of the SAR Convention should be followed. The right to stop and anchor does not, however, amount to a right to enter the internal waters or ports of a coastal state. It is a matter for each coastal state to determine whether and, if so, on what terms a vessel may enter a port within its jurisdiction. In the current climate, it can be expected that many coastal states will take measures to tackle Coronavirus which include closing their sea borders.

Within the wider cruising community there are reports of boats being turned away from their chosen destination on arrival, therefore the advice is if you are safely moored and are allowed to stay, then it is advisable to do so.

In particular, setting off on passage or to remote places during the Coronavirus pandemic is inadvisable. Communities that would in normal circumstances welcome cruising yachtsmen may now see you as a threat, particularly more remote destinations which will not have the capacity to treat serious cases. Any exposure brought to their populations could be devastating and if you have an accident or are taken ill, healthcare may simply be non-existent. Be aware, particularly if you are undertaking a longer passage then the situation in your destination (no matter how well researched before departure) may have changed by the time you arrive.

Noonsite provides a considerable amount of information that may help recreational boaters abroad and its Covid-19 document has guidance as well as links to all the latest developments. Noonsite will also publish updates on the world situation as it changes and countries extend their lockdowns, so keep an eye on the Noonsite homepage. There are also a number of field reports on the site at https://www.noonsite.com/report/ which may be of interest. These give an overview of what recreational boaters are experiencing in around the world and the situation you are likely to find on arrival in other countries.

Noonsite, working with the Ocean Cruising Club, has put together details of ports for cruisers making their way back to Europe across the Atlantic.  The list, published on Noonsite, is also available to download as a pdf so that it can be referred to offline, when underway.  Due to the evolving nature of the situation, this information is not static.  Updates and fresh information received will be added and the pdf amended at regular intervals.  Please share any new information or updates you may have with editor@noonsite.com.

If you are in difficulty abroad, contact the relevant British Embassy or Consulate for advice and assistance.

Arriving in the UK by recreational boat

Unlike many other countries, there is so far no blanket ban on arriving in the UK by recreational boat but if you try to do so you may none the less find your arrival problematic. Port facilities and marinas are closing and other authorities are taking whatever steps they have within their powers to stop or restrict recreational boating.

Some UK ports have introduced requirements for vessels (including recreational boats) arriving from outside the UK to complete and submit a health declaration on arrival. The requirements have been notified via local notices to mariners. Check local notices to mariners regularly for updated instructions and closures.

Once in the UK recreational boaters will be expected to adhere to the current UK Government ‘stay at home’ instructions.

What if a contract I have entered is unlikely to be performed?

Members of the RYA community are likely to have entered a range of contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic. From charter agreements, RYA courses to contracts for services the effect of the current situation is being felt across the boating community. The position is developing daily, with unprecedented government involvement. The RYA Legal Team has drafted guidance intended to provide a helpful starting point, but you may also need to seek independent legal advice.

To get in touch

Should members require any advice related to the guidance on this page please do not hesitate to get in touch. Your point of contact for this is the RYA Cruising Team on +44 (0) 23 8060 4233 or email cruising@rya.org.uk.

Page updated: 1 May 2020