Safety Tips for Boating

Safety Requirements of a Pleasure Vessel

Any pleasure vessel should comply with the safety requirements specified by the Code of Practice for Safety Standards for Class IV Vessels (the COP).

The Code of Practice for Safety Standards for Class IV Vessels (pdf file)

Passenger Capacity and Accommodation

  • Depending on the size of the vessel, the boat should not hold more than the number of passengers specified by Chapter IV of the COP.
  • There should be enough seating or resting facilities for the passengers on board.
  • Accommodation spaces should be clean, well-ventilated with suitable lighting and efficient means of escape.

Safety Equipment

Safety equipment including fire-fighting appliances and life-saving equipment should be an approved type, in good working order and easily accessible. You can check out Chapters V to VII of the COP for specific requirements.

Vessel Operators

A pleasure vessel can only be operated by qualified vessel operators who have acquired Local Certificates of Competency, depending on the vessel models they are to operate on.  For specific vessel operator requirements, you can refer to Chapter IX of the COP.

Safe Navigation

To enjoy a fun and relaxing boat trip, you need to navigate your boat in a safe and considerate way.  Below are some of the safety tips for boaters: 

  • Slow down, or give a wide berth, when passing small craft.
  • Get yourself familiar with the Traffic Separation Schemes and try to stay clear of fairways when large vessels are using them.
  • Do not exceed the speed limit in Speed Restricted Zones or Typhoon Shelters.
  • Don’t stand up or change seats in a small boat, particularly when the boat is full.
  • Don’t leave the tiller or helm unattended, especially when in crowded waters.
  • Proceed with extra caution where divers or swimmers are in the water.
  • Don’t sound your horn or bell unnecessarily.

Guidelines for Boaters – The Dos and Don’ts

Be safe and considerate while enjoying the sea (pdf file) 

Safe Navigation in Poor Visibility leaflet (pdf file)

Traffic Separation Schemes and Principal Fairways

Speed Restricted Zones for vessels

Map of typhoon shelters and sheltered anchorages (pdf file)

Plans of typhoon shelters

In Case of Emergency

When your vessel encounters emergency situations, distress or accident, you should call the Vessel Traffic Centre (VTC), either on V.H.F. (channel 12, 14, 67) or by telephone at 2233 7801 or 2233 7808. 

Alternatively, you may contact the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre by telephone at 2233 7999 immediately.  You should include details of the emergency in your call.

Details you should include in an emergency message

More on Vessel Traffic Centre

More on Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre

Other Safety Precautions

Fire hazards on vessels can be caused by short circuit of electric power, naked lights, overheating of machinery or simply by careless use of electricity and domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). You should take precautions to prevent your boat from fire and other hazards.

  • Don’t overload the electrical appliances on board.
  • Make sure electrical devices are properly installed and maintained.
  • LPG cylinders should be stowed on open decks, and kept away from cooking appliances, air pipes and ventilators.
  • Don’t smoke in engine rooms, where flammable items are stored.
  • Keep your boat clean. Oil in the bilges or dirty rags can cause fire.
  • Secure electrical wires in protected places to prevent damage.

More fire prevention tips (pdf file) (available in Chinese only) 

More on safety use of electricity (pdf file) (available in Chinese only)

More on safety use of domestic LPG (Chapter VIII of the COP) (pdf file)

Useful References

The following links take you to comprehensive information for operating vessels safely in the waters of Hong Kong.

Marine Department Notices

Notices to Mariners

Marine works in progress

Nautical charts and publications

Licensing a Pleasure Vessel

Last revision date: June 2016