Dos and Don'ts of Boat Safety.

Staying safe on holiday.

Creating Memorable Holidays for all the right reasons

Stay Safe and Enjoy the River

The following is a simple list of things you need to consider when out on a boat. Many are common sense, others, perhaps less so.

One of the absolute key things is complacency: if we charged a pound to everyone who told us they didn’t want a lifejacket because they could swim, we could reduce our hire charges.

Wear your life jacket

Why should you wear your life jacket, even if you can swim and you don’t plan on falling in? The answer is simple. Whilst it is relatively uncommon, man-overboard (MOB) scenarios do happen and, as swimming in the Norfolk Broads actively discouraged, these are rarely planned events. In most cases, a MOB is an accident. It can happen because you have inadequate footwear (or bare feet), you could slip on a deck or wet quay heading, you might step or jump over a gap between the boat and the bank and not make it and other scenarios. In all of these instances, an accidental dunking has the real possibility of hitting something on the way down and causing injury, possibly one that could incapacitate you, potentially knocking you unconscious. Even if you dropped straight into the water, the cold shock is likely to be significant and can incapacitate you. With a life jacket properly fitted, your body will be properly supported, your head above water and supported. Without a lifejacket, well, I expect you can work it out.

At Freedom we take this matter very seriously; we will provide lifejackets, free of charge to every crew member. Children will be weighed to ensure that the jacket provided is suitable for them. Without exception, you will be asked to put the jacket on to ensure you know how to wear it. Additionally, if is significantly easier to rescue a man-overboard casualty if they are wearing a lifejacket and the jacket is deliberately styled in a bright colour to allow for easy identification.

12 Dos of boating

Do Wear your lifejacket (that’s everyone) – at all times on deck, boarding and getting off and at other times near the water.

Do Wear suitable shoes. Non-slip soles are important and avoid crocks (they slip nastily) and open-toed sandals or flipflops. Do not go bare-foot.

Do Hold on – don’t take risks. There are many grab rails on boats; use them.
The golden rule is: One Hand for the Boat.

Do Provide speedy, but safe, assistance to anyone who falls in. Throw a lifebelt to them (there is one on every hire boat), but do not aim at them as you don’t want to hit them with the safety aid.

Do Make sure everyone aboard knows where to find the emergency equipment. Freedom will point these things out during the handover of all vessels.

Do Contact your boatyard immediately if you suspect a fuel or gas leak. Do not operate any electrical equipment. There are Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms on all our boats

Do When moored, make sure the hull is protected by the rubber fenders; you may have to adjust the height. Ensure they are hanging at all times; they provide safety grabs to a man-overboard

Do Use your boathook with real care. Putting great pressure on it might cause it to break or slip which could take you off balance causing you to fall. Worse, you might impale yourself on it

Do Keep your mooring lines stored safely on board, without causing unnecessary trip hazards but remaining readily useable.

Do Make sure a responsible crew member handles the ropes when mooring, particularly in tidal areas. (Young children should not carry out mooring procedures).

Do Keep an eye on your cooker if it is being used whist the boat is in motion. The additional breeze could extinguish the gas flames.

Do Watch our for river markers such as buoys and posts. These generally indicate areas that you should not enter, often because of a risk of grounding or striking submerged structures.

12 Don'ts of boating

Don't Allow your mooring ropes to trail in the water. The rope could get sucked around the propeller incapacitatiing the vessel. It may also be your responsibility to pay associated costs.

Don't Reverse back to a man-overboard. The propeller is back there and will cause life-changing injuries if it comes into contact with a casualty.

Don't Wrap your mooring ropes up so they cannot be used instantly. Don’t be lazy untying; ensure the full length of the rope is loose so that it can be used again without confusion.

Don't Allow knots in your ropes; it prevents them from running properly through cleats, fairleads and mooring rings. If you see a knot, take it out.

Don't Swim in the Norfolk Broads. The waters are always cold, you can easily get caught in river weed and the river bed is soft mud which can such you in. Apart from that, the water is not safe to ingest.

Don't Jump off a moving boat; it makes slipping over more likely and if you fall in, you might be crushed by the vessel.

Don't Attempt to stop a boat by pushing it with your foot or hand. Injuries are common because of this as even small cruisers weight at least two tones and the momentum is hard to counteract.

Don't Tow or allow your vessel to be towed unless it is under professional guidance. Towing is not permitted by hirers; it creates dangerous situations that inexperienced helmsmen will unskilled for.

Don't Allow extra people on board. Your boat is safety tested for specific crew numbers and weights; overloading the boat can place the entire vessel and crew in significant danger.

Don't Cruise after the official hour of sunset or earlier if visibility is poor. This is illegal and you will be uninsured. Freedom will terminate your holiday if you are found to be doing this.

Don't Throw your mudweight around. It is very heavy and will damage any surface it hits. It will need dropping in the water, but don't drop it on deck unless you fancy paying us to repair a hole!

Don't Bring bicycles and scooters on board your Freedom boat. There is nowhere safe to store a bicycle and easily scratch our boats and cause other damage and we will ask you to cover the cost of repair