Marine Safety

Marine Safety

Safety Regulations

Vessel Definitions

Motor Boat: Every craft plying the waters of Bermuda propelled by internal combustion engine or electric motor.

Sail Boat: A sail boat is any boat using sails as its primary method of propulsion.

Personal Water Craft: Small, agile boats powered by inboard water jet pump mechanisms.





Summary of the Principal Provisions of the Marine Board (Safety) Regulations 1993

The regulations specify the minimum safety equipment that must be carried on any boat except:

a) when at its normal mooring with no persons onboard.

b) which is solely propelled by oars or paddles while in inshore waters and does not exceed 10 feet.

Definition of Inshore Waters

All enclosed waters south of a line between Commissioner's Point and Cobbler's Cut (Spanish Point), Mangrove Bay, Ely's Harbour & the Scaur, Harrington Sound, Flatts Inlet, Castle Harbour, Ferry Reach, St. George's Harbour, Coot Pond, Burchall's Cove, Devonshire Bay, Hungry Bay.


Equipment required aboard boats 20 feet or less:

1 life jacket for each person 3 red flares
2 oars/paddles 3 red rockets
1 bailer/manual bilge pump 3 orange smokes
1 anchor, 3 feet chain, 100 feet rope 1 dye marker
1 horn 1 mirror
1 flash light 1 fire extinguisher


Equipment required aboard boats over 20 feet, and up to 40 feet:

1 life jacket for each person 3 red flares
2 oars/paddles 3 red rockets
1 bailer/manual bilge pump 3 orange smokes
1 anchor, 3 feet chain, 200 feet rope 1 dye marker
1 horn 1 mirror
1 flash light 1 fire extinguisher
1 life buoy + 50 feet rope  


Equipment required aboard boats over 40 feet - must fit required equipment in the above table plus the following:

1 additional bailer (2 total)
1 manual bilge pump
1 additional life buoy and line (2 total)
1 additional fire extinguisher (2 total)

VHF Radio Equipment is required by all vessels proceeding to seaward of:

Narrows Channel
South Channel
Western (Hogfish) Small Boat Channel
The Outer Reef between Pompano Beacon and Spit Buoy


Jet Ski Safety Equipment

1 approved life jacket per person 30 feet of line/tow rope
1 fire extinguisher 1 combined day smoke and red flare
1 sound producing device  
1 flash light  


Sailing to Bermuda

A voyage under sail to Bermuda can be a rewarding and relaxing experience —provided you plan your voyage carefully and adequately check and prepare your vessel. This Information Sheet should be used in addition to all the other traditional reference material available.

It is especially important to keep in mind the vulnerability of electronic navigation equipment in the marine environment, and for this reason have at least one crew member aboard capable of navigating celestially. Backup communication and navigation equipment, as well as contingency planning in the event of emergency will all help to ensure a safe arrival in Bermuda.

Safety Equipment

Contact your nearest Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary office early in the planning stage to obtain a full list of recommended safety equipment. All ocean-going yachts should have at least:

• an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) — preferably one that operates on frequency 406 MHz;

• a VHF radio-telephone transceiver capable of 25 watts power output;

• a Single Side Band radio-telephone transceiver operating on medium and high frequencies;

• an oceanic life raft designed to hold the total number of crew aboard your vessel, and a survival or "panic" bag containing pre-packed rations and other essential items;

• a medium frequency radio direction finder;

• a radar reflector;

• parachute rockets, smoke flares and dye markers;

• some form of auxiliary power;

• sufficient battery power to keep navigation and communications systems operating for several days in the event of engine or generator failure.


To calculate your minimum requirements of consumable stores, estimate the number of days required to make a normal passage, double it, and add a few days for good measure. It is reasonable, for example, for a 40-foot yacht to take 5 1/2 days to get from New York to Bermuda. In that case, stores and water should be taken aboard for a 14-day journey.

Size of Vessel

All types of small craft have successfully completed passages in all seasons, but the elements of risk and discomfort increase rapidly as the length of a vessel falls below 30 feet. However, a well-found vessel of 35 feet overall, carrying an experienced crew of four or five persons, should be adequate for a normal ocean passage.

Location of Bermuda

Five Fathom Hole, at the approach to Bermuda’s two main entrances, Town Cut Channel and the Narrows Channel, lies 667 nautical miles to the southeast of New York in the Atlantic Ocean at 32º 23’ North latitude and 64º 38’ West longitude and is some 640 nautical miles from Norfolk, Virginia, and 687 nautical miles from Boston.


Bermuda is not in a Trade Wind Zone. The generally northeasterly flow of weather systems over the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.A. continues over Bermuda. During the summer months, however, a high pressure cell located between the Azores and Bermuda becomes the predominant meteorological factor affecting Bermuda weather. The so-called Bermuda-Azores High usually produces wind speeds averaging 15 knots. Although the Centre of the system is near the Azores, the highest average pressures are recorded near Bermuda. Another great influence on Bermuda’s weather is the Gulf Stream. Its northward flow between the U.S.A. and Bermuda warms the island’s waters and stabilizes the climate. Temperatures vary little more than an average of 20°F throughout the year, dropping to an average of 62°F in February, the coolest month, and rising to an average of 82°F in August. The cooler season from December through March is mild, with average daytime temperatures in the 60s. The average annual rainfall of 58 inches is well distributed throughout the year. The wettest month, on average, is October, with approximately six inches of rainfall; the driest is April with approximately three inches.


The tide's average rise and fall varies between three and four feet.


Bermuda does lie in the track of those tropical revolving storms known as hurricanes, which are usually born in the southeastern waters of the North Atlantic. The hurricane season is defined as occurring between June 1st and November 30th. The normal pattern is for a hurricane to move westerly until it reaches the Caribbean or the southeast cost of the U.S.A. before changing course to the north, then northeasterly, roughly following the direction of the Gulf Stream. Most hurricanes therefore bypass Bermuda to the west. The period of greatest frequency for these dangerous and highly unpredictable cyclonic storms is between August 15th and October 15th; an average of 40% of the hurricanes passing Bermuda are recorded in September. The passage of hurricanes directly over Bermuda is rare.

Charts, Books and Supplies

All vessels should have at least those charts detailing the offshore beacons and reef areas, and the Eastern approaches including St. George’s Harbour (your port of entry).

For more information and regulations, please visit the Bermuda Maritime Operations website.