Rules of the Sea

You learned the rules of the road before you sat behind the wheel of a car, now you should do the same before taking the helm! There are some rules that apply to everyone on the water, no matter what sort of boat you are operating:

  • Keep a proper lookout – watch where you are going at all times.
  • Keep to a safe speed – this means slowing down in situations where you may find it difficult to see another boat, e.g. in waves, rain, or fog, or when there is glare on the water.
  • Understand and operate within the speed limits – the maximum speed permitted for all boats in New Zealand is 5 knots (about 9 km/h) within 200 metres of shore or any boat with a dive flag, and within 50 metres of any other boat or swimmer.
  • Know what to do when two boats meet – one boat has the right of way and the other boat is the give way boat:
    • When you give way, always try to pass behind the other boat.
    • Above all, make your intentions clear – make substantial alterations to your direction and be prepared to slow right down or stop if you are in doubt.
    • If the give way boat fails to give way, you must make every effort to avoid a collision.
    • Keep to starboard (“drive on the right”) in channels
    • Any boat approaching another from behind is considered to be overtaking, and must keep clear of the boat it is passing.

Enjoy safe boating with your family and mates – order your free safe boating pack now.

What’s in the safe boating pack:

  • Safe Boating Essential Guide – a comprehensive 44-page booklet covering all aspects of how to stay safe on the water (seas, rivers and lakes) – includes “rules of the road on the water”
  • cellphone bag – a ziplock bag to keep your cellphone dry 
  • sticker – Boat Safely – a handy summary
  • sticker – Cross the Bar Safely – handy tips
  • Boating Education: your quick guide to recreational boating courses leaflet (Coastguard Boating Education)
  • Keep our bays beautiful – leaflet
  • Beacons save lives – leaflet (while stocks last)