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New boat safety films launched ahead of 2023 season

17 April 2023

In partnership with the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency (EA) has launched a series of animated boating safety films in time for the 2023 boating season.

Accidents on the UK’s waterways are reasonably rare, but silly mistakes when it comes to safety could be life-threatening. No matter how calm and serene your waterway appears, it can be dangerous if you don’t adhere to basic safety guidelines.

Knowing how to stay safe when boating is crucial. So, whether you are new to boating or an old hand, these short animations are a quick and easy way to ensure you can enjoy your boating safely when you head out onto the water.

Where can I find the boating safety videos?

You can watch the films on YouTube here: Boating Environment Agency and Canasafely: a series of simple guides to keep yourself and other users safe when using our waterways.

Who are the films for?

The films are aimed primarily at first-time boaters, including hirers, to help them enjoy their new boating adventures confidently and without incidents or accidents.

While the films are designed for beginners, they also contain some helpful reminders for those with more experience. It is always a good idea to refresh your boating safety knowledge, irrelevant of your experience, especially if you haven’t been out on the water for a few months over the winter.

The five short animations, each around five minutes long, are well worth watching as they offer helpful boating safety advice in an alternative, more accessible format.

Matthew Symonds, National Boating Manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “The waterways are fantastic places to explore by boat, and it’s great that boating remains a popular leisure and holiday option for so many people experiencing the waterways for the first time.

We want to ensure that people have the best possible experience and provide them with the information they need to safely handle a boat. These videos cover everything that boaters could expect to encounter on an everyday cruise, and we hope that the films will help newcomers to boating feel confident as they cast off and discover the wonders of the nation’s inland waterways.”


What topics are covered in the animations?

The short films provide straight forward guidance on staying safe when boating and mooring up, and provide particular information about bridges, tunnels, weirs and sluices, how to use locks, and how boaters can protect the environment. Each of the animations has a different theme. These are:

  • Protecting the environment
  • Mooring
  • Staying safe around locks
  • Staying safe
  • Bridges, tunnels, weirs, and sluices

Where else can I learn about boat safety?

The animations are intended to be a natural partner to the Boater’s Handbook, also co-produced by the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust.

The Boater’s Handbook provides basic information about boat handling and safety, including essential knowledge and techniques for staying safe on the water.

Boaters should ideally read the handbook before setting off as it provides vital information on spotting risks and taking simple actions to avoid problems. The manual also explains how to get out of trouble quickly and safely.

The boat owner / registrant will receive email correspondence for every new boat registration with a link to the films. The EA is also asking hire boat operators and hire boat booking agencies to promote the importance of watching the films to customers before setting out on the water.

You can find out more about boating, such as registering your boat, river closures and restrictions, locks and facilities, and other boating information here.

There are also boating safety courses which will teach you the basic skills to operate a vessel safely. If you are buying a boat, you may need to get a Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate before you can register or buy a licence to use on inland UK waterways. Find out more about owning a boat here.


The importance of boating safety

Most deaths on Britain’s waterways are due to drowning, and many boating accidents and injuries happen because boaters haven’t prepared or educated themselves on boating safety.

Keeping everyone on your boat and anyone else you encounter on your boating adventures safe is essential when enjoying the UK’s waterways. Protecting the environment is another crucial obligation.

Boating safety includes how to operate your boat, etiquette and rules on the waterways such as where to moor a boat, overtaking and how to navigate obstacles, understanding how to use a boat during extreme and changing weather conditions safely, and keeping your boat well maintained. It is also essential to develop an understanding of how accidents can occur.

Common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Operator inattention or inexperience
  • Falls
  • Collisions
  • Capsizing
  • Machinery failure
  • Fires and explosions
  • Excessive speed
  • Violating navigation rules
  • Alcohol use
  • Strong water conditions
  • Lock safety


Falls are the most common accident and are most likely to happen when trying to moor, especially if you are an inexperienced boater. These can easily be prevented by being more knowledgeable about the basics of boating before going out on the water.

Boating safety matters. Please share this information as widely as you can through your networks, especially if you use social media channels.


Val Wyatt is an established, independent marina and boat broker situated on a picturesque stretch of the iconic River Thames in Wargrave. Val Wyatt offers a whole suite of boat services, from helping customers find their perfect boat to storage, cleaning, maintenance and repair services.

If you would like to know more or need help with a boat purchase, boat maintenance or mooring services, please get in touch with our expert, friendly team. We are here to help you and are happy to answer any questions you have about boating safely.