The purpose of IWAI’s “Code of Conduct” is to encourage boaters and other waterways users to be more aware of their duties and responsibilities towards other users and the environment. It does not purport to cover all situations users may encounter but rather attempts to raise the level of awareness about the issues involved. What follows here is additional information for persons using fast craft.
Plan your trip. Be aware of the Collision Rules get weather forecast for the area and the time you are boating. Check all safety gear. Ensure sufficient P.F.D.s, Personal Flotation Devices, or Life jackets (LINK being created on new site ) for plain English for all onboard including any guests. Check Engine oil level (dip stick on four stroke engine, oil tank or mixture on two stroke engines ). Check fuel is sufficient for trip with a minimum of 20% reserve ( know your Crafts endurance ). Check engine attachment bolts are tight. Check all cables and fuel lines are secure, turn engine lock to lock. Check electrical connections, test start engine (ensure a water supply ). Check telltale water jet. Secure all loose items. It is essential to have Paddles /Oars, Anchor and Warp, Distress Flag or Flares, basic First Aid Kit, Bailer/Bilge Pump, Knife, Fire Extinguisher, Spare Kill Cord and Spare Oil. Make your own checklist or ask the lifeboats for their free engine checklist.
Check trailer capacity is sufficient for the craft and the gross weight for the towing vehicle ( Max 3.5 Tonnes with brakes ) is not exceeded. Check wheel bearings for grease and wear ( carry a spare wheel and bearing ). Check tyres for wear, splitting, and pressure. Check craft is sitting correctly on trailer pads or rollers. Check that Craft is well balanced on the trailer and there is not too much weight on the drawbar. Check there is a secure strap holding the rear section of the craft on the trailer, in addition to the winch hook at the bow. Check tow bar, light socket, trailer lights, tow vehicle mirrors.
At a public slipway have consideration for others and have a second person beside the craft when reversing. Put on life jackets, do not delay, have the craft ready to float off the trailer with a long bow line to walk the craft to a berth, should it fail to start or to load. Park the trailer away from the slipway so that it is not a hazard to others (rinse the bearings if dirty in Salt Water).
Ensure everyone is wearing life jackets, proper foot ware, clothes suitable for the much lower temperatures and wind chill on the Water. Board one at a time and balance the craft so it sits level on the water. Bring a method of getting in touch (V.H.F. Mobile Phone) and attracting attention (Flares, Distress Flag, Torch) Advise someone ashore of your plans and arrange a call time to confirm your arrival. Should you navigate at night and have the skills and equipment required do so at displacement speed.
Loosen fuel tank vent, prime engine attach kill cord. Start engine allow time to warm up. Look around identify any possible problems ( Swimmers other Vessels Etc.) and engage gear and motor at idle speed out of the harbour when you are at least 200 Meters away from moored craft, harbours, bridges, swimmers, small craft, you can apply power use a term like “powering up “ to advise the passengers, and push the throttle smoothly forward, trim the craft for best performance and minimum wake. If water-skiing/wakeboarding/towing toys avoid the person in the water by circling them with the tow rope. Ensure that the tow rope is tight before applying power, always have a responsible lookout in the passenger seat. When recovering someone from the water approach bow in to wind and switch off the engine when they are boarding. When slowing down advise passengers “powering down”, smoothly pull back on the throttle when you return to within 200 Meters of other craft ensure that you are at idle speed.
If the engine stops throw out the anchor with sufficient warp (rope and chain) for the depth, if you are in deep water let it all out. Check fuel and fuel lines. check fuel filter (dirt or water ). Check kill chord and connections attract attention of another craft and request a tow, there are no salvage laws relating to accepting a tow on Inland Waters.
If time permits engage neutral and steer the bow toward the casualty (this kicks the stern away) return downwind slowly (no wash) keeping the casualty in sight. Approach at idle speed bow into wind switch off engine when contact is made. If there is no boarding ladder the outboard engine fin will assist boarding. Carry a second kill cord in case the driver is the casualty!
If you are on the Rocks you will not sink. So use time to inspect for damage if there is a hole then get help. If you are holed while afloat use anything you can to stop the flow eg. seat cushions or spare jackets. Get help to escort you to shore, transfer all passengers and gear to escort craft and lift immediately on landing .
Land all passengers and gear. Approach Trailer slowly with engine on shallow tilt. Attach winch rope and ensure the craft is central on the trailer. switch off and tilt .Winch in and recover. Strap down rinse with fresh water if necessary (Inc Engine ) open drain in the hull if fitted.
When operating other types of high-speed craft be particularly conscious of the wind effect especially at low-speed. Craft using wind propellers as a primary power source eg. Air Boats, Hovercraft, and Float Planes have best directional stability when they are into wind. As a result of this it is advisable to use a conventionally powered craft as a tug in confined areas again the 200 Meter idle speed zone should be applied. The wearing of automatic life jackets is not advisable in enclosed cockpits as their deployment could restrict an emergency exit.
To minimise the noise intrusion on others try to vary the areas of active every 30 mins or so. Avoid built up areas (it is probably prohibited anyway) be aware that the wind will carry noise and water amplifies it, avoid narrow river sections especially in spring nesting time, try to balance your enjoyment with nature other river users and residents.
Training in all aspects of power boating is highly recommended and available nationwide. The I.S.A. provide a list of recognised training centres. The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland offers its members a quarterly magazine. In addition rallies and cruises run all summer and help to improve skills. Both organisations believe in education rather than legislation so let’s try to make this voluntary code work.