Marine Notice No. 30 of 2023
Notice to all Notice to all Masters, Owners, Boating Clubs, Yachtspersons, Seafarers and Users of
Pleasure and Recreational Craft
This Marine Notice replaces Marine Notice No. 9 of 2003
Further to Marine Notice No. 19 of 2021, “Importance of Voyage Planning and avoiding
dangerous situations in Adverse Weather and Sea Conditions”, the Department of Transport
wishes to highlight again the provisions of Chapter V (Safety of Navigation) of the
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) that apply to small,
privately owned recreational craft.
1. Voyage/Passage Planning
Although regulation 34 of Chapter V, “Safe navigation and avoidance of dangerous
situations”, only applies when proceeding to sea, the department advises all recreational craft
users to comply with the voyage planning principles.
Recreational craft users should particularly consider the following points when
planning a boating trip:
➢ Weather: before going boating, check the weather forecast and get regular updates
if planning to be out for any length of time.
➢ Tides: check the tidal predictions for the trip and ensure that they fit with the planned
➢ Limitations of the vessel: consider whether the boat is suitable for the proposed trip
and that there is sufficient safety equipment and stores on board.
➢ Crew: take into account the experience and physical ability of the crew. Crews may
be impacted by the cold, tiredness and seasickness and this could result in an
➢ Navigational Dangers: make sure the crew is familiar with any navigational dangers
that may be encountered during the boating trip. This generally means checking an
up-to-date chart and a current pilot book or almanac.
➢ Contingency plan: always have a contingency plan should anything go wrong.
Before departing, consider places where the boat can take refuge should conditions
deteriorate or if the crew suffer an incident or injury. Bear in mind that the GPS set is
vulnerable and could fail at the most inconvenient time. It is sensible and good
practice to make sure that the crew are not over-reliant on the GPS set and that they
can navigate to safety by using alternative means such as headlands and landmarks
should it fail.
➢ Information ashore: make sure that someone ashore knows the plans for the trip
and knows what to do should they become concerned for the crews’ wellbeing.
Ensure a designated person/organisation ashore is aware of the intended voyage,
departure and return times, and has a procedure in place to raise the alarm if the
➢ Communication: make sure to have reliable means of communication in the event
of an emergency while at sea or on inland waters. See Marine Notice No. 40 of 20191
for further information or visit the department’s website at www.gov.ie/transport and
search for ‘Marine Notices’.
The department recommends that all operators pass Traffic Report messages via the
nearest Coast Guard Radio Station. Marine Notice No. 61 of 2020 provides information
regarding Irish Coast Guard VHF working channels. There is no charge for this service.
Please note, however, that overdue reporting remains the responsibility of the vessel’s shore
contact. The Irish Coast Guard will not initiate overdue procedures on the basis of Traffic
2. Radar Reflectors
Many large ships rely on radar for navigation and for spotting other vessels in their vicinity.
Therefore, whatever size a boat is, it’s important to make sure that it can be seen by radar.
Many small boats, especially those made of Glass Reinforced Plastic (also commonly termed
‘Fibreglass’) will return a very weak echo to radar, if any. Regulation 19 of Chapter V requires
all small craft to fit a radar reflector ‘if practicable’. If the boat is more than 15m in length, it
should be possible to fit a radar reflector that meets the IMO requirements. If the boat is less
than 15m in length, it should be fitted with the largest radar reflector possible. Regardless of
the size of boat, the radar reflector should be fitted according to the manufacturer’s
instructions and as high as possible to maximise its effectiveness.
3. Life Saving Signals
Regulation 29 of Chapter V requires the boat to have access to an illustrated table of the
recognised life saving signals, so that it can communicate with the search and rescue
services or other boats if it gets into trouble. This is also a legal requirement under the
Merchant Shipping (Carriage of Nautical Charts and Publications) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No.
149/2021). A Table of Life Saving Signals is available on page 142 of the Code of Practice
for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft and can also be found in various nautical
4. Assistance to other Craft
Regulations 31, 32 and 33 of Chapter V require a vessel:
• to let the Irish Coast Guard and any other vessels in the vicinity know if it encounters
anything that could cause a serious hazard to navigation if that hazard has not already
been reported. This can be done by calling the Coast Guard on VHF, if on board, or
by telephoning them at the earliest opportunity. The Coast Guard will then warn other
vessels in the area. As mentioned at section 1 above, information on the Irish Coast
Guard VHF channels can be found in Marine Notice No. 61 of 2020;
• to respond to any distress signal that it sees or hears and help anyone or any boat in
distress as best it can.
5. Misuse of Distress Signals
Regulation 35 of Chapter V prohibits misuse of any distress signals. These are critical to
safety at sea and misusing them could put a person’s life at risk.
6. Other Conventions
In addition to SOLAS Chapter V, recreational craft users should note that the International
Convention for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) applies and therefore they should
ensure that the correct lights and shapes are carried. The International Convention for the
Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) also applies. Vessels should not discharge oil
or drop garbage into the sea and vessels over 12m should display a placard. Vessels of
13.7m in length are required to meet certain life saving and fire protection requirements.
7. Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft
The importance of voyage planning is outlined in Chapter 2.2 of the Code of Practice for the
Safe Operation of Recreational Craft. Attention is also drawn to Appendix 6 of the Code of
Practice, which contains information on Weather, Sea States and Tides, and Appendix 8,
where an example of a Voyage/Passage Planning Template can be found. It is essential to
carry out regular weather forecast checks during coastal, offshore and ocean voyages.
The Code of Practice is a free document and hardcopies can be obtained on request, in both
English and Irish, from the Maritime Safety Policy Division of the Department at email
MarineLeisureSafety@transport.gov.ie. The Code is also available to view or download from
the department’s website at the following link: Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of
Recreational Craft, or by visiting the department’s website www.gov.ie/transport and
searching “Publications” for “Recreational Craft Code”.
All recreational craft users are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Code of
Practice and to heed the safety advice and recommendations. Safety information and advice
is also available on the department’s “Safety on the Water” website
(www.safetyonthewater.ie) and at the following link: Safety on the Water.
For any technical assistance in relation to this Marine Notice, please contact:
The Marine Survey Office, email: MSO@transport.gov.ie.
For general enquiries, please contact the Maritime Safety Policy Division, email:
Written enquiries concerning Marine Notices should be addressed to:
Dept. of Transport, Maritime Safety Policy Division, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, D02 TR60, Ireland.
email: MarineNotices@transport.gov.ie or visit us at: www.gov.ie/transport