You can be as young as 12-years-old to operate a powercraft in Bermuda waters.
From 12 to age 15 the engine size is limited to six horsepower. But from 16 onwards there are no restrictions on horsepower.
Personal watercraft (Jet Ski) users must be 16 or older.
Before casting off
Be weather conscious — check the forecast a day in advance of your trip.
Bermuda Harbour Radio broadcasts on channel 27 VHF and 2582 kHz twice a day at 8:35am (9.53am DST) and 4:35pm (5.35pm).
Or see Channel 11 on cable TV or dial 977 on the telephone.
Decreasing barometer recordings indicate bad weather is coming.
Create a float plan from the point of leaving the dock to the time you will return.
Inform Harbour Radio before leaving the dock via 16 VHF or call 297-1010.
Make sure that equipment being utilized on the journey is in good working order (ie. engine, radio, bilge pumps, steering) and that the vessel has ample fuel, oil, etc.
Ensure that all safety requirements are aboard. (see the list on our website).
All on board must be familiar with the boat’s layout, eg. where the safety equipment is located.
Be aware of shallows and reefs which can appear as dark brown patches.
Keep to the starboard (right) in all channels.
Without reasonable excuse, no vessels may exceed five knots (9.2 km/h) through the water, within 100 metres of the shore, any structure, or any vessel displaying
a dive flag.
This includes beaches, docks and swimmers. Reduce speed to a dead slow when passing docks, bays and congested areas.
Sitting on the bow (bow riding) is illegal and dangerous, and can result in fines for the skipper.
Speed limit exceptions: Two Rock Passage; Head of the Lane Passage; Town Cut Channel; Ferry Reach (from the sea to the Airfield Landing light pylons approaching from the west); and Western Hogfish Channel from Dockyard to the sea, except the section west of Mangrove Bay between the Quintons and Gray’s Point.
Recreational craft must avoid making a wake which can cause danger or damage to other vessels, structures or people.
Reduce or no wake while anyone has any part of their body over the bow or sides of a power boat, or within 100 metres of another vessel or person in the water.
This includes beaches, docks and swimmers.
Water skiing, towing and similar activities
Any boat including Jet Skis towing a water skier, boat, wake board or similar device must have a person 14 years of age or older to keep a lookout, as well as the skipper.
Those being towed must wear a PFD (personal flotation device).
These activities must not be carried out within 200 feet of the shoreline.
Water skiing and similar activities are not permitted from sunset to sunrise.
When anchoring keep well clear of wharves (docks) and jetties and their approaches. Find a clear area, free of boats, reefs and electrical cables.
Point the bow into the wind and lay out the anchor slowly and put the vessel into reverse while doing so.
The scope of the line should be between five and seven times the depth of water you are in.
The anchor must set in the sea floor. To retrieve it, simply retrieve the line.
Make sure the anchor rope is attached to a deck cleat.
Skippers must ensure they anchor so that they do not cause a hazard by swinging into other anchored craft, or by dragging.
Moorings usually have pick-up buoys attached, which someone should retrive with a boat hook, then securing the line to the up-chain or cleat the up-chain directly to the boat.
Approach the dock very slowly upwind, letting the boat’s momentum carry you forward.
Bring the bow to within a few feet of the dock, coming side on, and lock the wheel to either port or starboard depending on which side of the boat has the fenders.
You can bring the stern of the boat into the dock by reversing and turning the wheel.
To safely tether the boat, bow, stern and spring lines should be used.
Do not smoke and turn off the engines.
Make sure tanks and decks around the engine are kept clean and dry.
Maintain constant attendance of the fuel pulps to limit fuel spillage.
Make metal to metal contact with nozzle and tank orifice to prevent static sparks.
Clean all spills. Ventilate the engine compartment for five minutes to circulate air before starting the engine.
Any vessel where diving activities are taking place must display code flag A so that it can be clearly seen from 200 metres.
Boaters must not create a wake or travel at a speed in excess of five knots if they are within 100 metres of the dive vessel.
Knots and hitches
The bowline is renowned for its strength and ability to be undone quickly.
The half-hitch/clove hitch is a fast method of fastening docking lines to bollards, with each additional hitch making it stronger.
The reef (granny) knot is a common knot which holds well under pressure and is easily freed.
The figure eight is a stopping knot placed at the end of the line to keep it from running through a block, jam cleat or other opening.
Bermuda Water Safety Council, contact 295-6575
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Website www.wsc.bm.