Skipper responsibility

Even though no licence is required to operate a pleasure boat in New Zealand, ignorance of any Maritime Rules or Bylaws is not accepted as an excuse and can lead to fines and prosecution. 

If you are the skipper you must:

  • Ensure you have aboard the necessary equipment for your trip.
  • Ensure everyone on board knows what safety equipment is carried, where it is stowed and how it works.
  • Have on board a correctly fitting lifejacket for every person on the boat - it is a legal requirement that life jackets are worn when crossing river bars, during emergencies, in rough water or at times of heightened risk, such as after drinking alcohol. Children and all non-swimmers should always wear their life jacket when on board unless inside an enclosed area such as a cabin.
  • Always operate your boat so as not to endanger people or property.
  • Never overload your boat with either people or equipment.
  • Ensure everything on board is properly stowed and secured.
  • Ensure everyone is sitting safely and holding on when in choppy seas or when travelling at speed.
  • Always maintain your boat, its motor, electrics and equipment and check everything before you go out.
  • Always carry 2 means for communicating distress and, in boats under 6m, make sure one means is waterproof.
  • Make a trip report on your VHF radio and stay in contact with Maritime Radio or the local Coastguard or marine radio service.

Take a Coastguard Boating Education Day Skipper course to ensure you have all the knowledge to stay safe on the water.