Boating, bylaws and safety

Before taking to the water, boat owners should familiarise themselves with seaside pleasure boats and public bathing bylaws to ensure powered craft are not a danger to bathers and other water users.

If your craft is within 300 metres of the shoreline, you must not exceed a speed limit of eight knots (10mph). This area is marked by a row of yellow buoys running parallel along the coast. The only areas where this rule does not apply are the designated transit lanes marked along each side by a row of marker buoys alongside the launch ramps.

This is a legal restriction and failure to follow these bylaws could result in further action and prosecution. 

Ramp locations

  • Neptune jetty, Central Parade, Herne Bay - public launching ramp
  • Studd Hill/Hampton Avenue, Herne Bay - public launching ramp
  • Seaview Caravan Park, Swalecliffe - private launching ramp
  • Whitstable Water Ski Club, Whitstable - private launching ramp
  • Seasalter Ski Club, Seasalter - private launching ramp

Please read our guidance leaflet for launch and recovery.

Please note that not all ramp locations allow public access.  View the locations and get directions to our ramps.

Guidelines for safety

The following key points should be observed for the safe and effective enjoyment of our coastal waters by all water users:

  • Keep your craft maintained and carry sufficient safety equipment, including life jackets for everybody aboard and distress flares.
  • Check the weather conditions before putting out to sea.
  • Let somebody ashore know your plans and your intended time of return.
  • Give way to sailing craft and allow them plenty of space.
  • Take training in your sport from a recognized training centre.
  • Insure yourself and your craft for public liability.
  • Take care while launching and recovering your vessel and beware of other people on or near the launching ramps.
  • Do not enter the designated swimming areas in your craft at any time. The designated areas are central beach (Herne Bay) and Tankerton beach (Tankerton Bay).

Please read our guidance leaflet for staying safe on the water.

International regulations for preventing collisions at sea

Vessels under power

Head-on situation
Power vessels approaching head-on should alter course to starboard and pass down each other's port side.
'Green to green, red to red, perfect safety, go ahead.'

Crossing situation
If two power vessels are crossing, the vessel with the other on her starboard side should keep clear.
'If to starboard red appear, 'tis your duty to keep clear.'

Overtaking situation
A vessel must give space to another vessel if overtaking and the second vessel should not impede the one overtaking.

Traffic separation scheme 
The traffic separation schemes are marked on charts. The guidelines are:

  • Small craft should, whenever possible, use the inshore traffic zones.
  • If small craft have to use a traffic lane, they must follow the correct direction for the lane and not impede larger vessels.
  • If it is necessary to cross a traffic lane, make sure your heading is at right angles to the lane and keep clear of other vessels.

Both vessels under sail

Action to avoid collision

When two vessels are close, it is essential that each vessel understands what the other is doing (especially smaller craft). Therefore course alterations should be bold rather than gradual to make changes clear to other craft. A series of small alterations should be avoided, particularly at night where a change in aspect of navigation lights is the only visual indication that a vessel has altered course.

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