There are relatively few restrictions on who can operate a powerboat in Ireland, and indeed on licensing requirements.
Here we summarise a few of the rules and answer a few of the more frequently asked questions about operating powerboats in Ireland.
Please note, every attempt has been made to accurately reflect the legislation, however this is only a guide and should not be relied upon in the place of proper understanding of the legislation.
Do I need a license to drive a powerboat?
In short, no. There’s no legal requirement to operate a powerboat for leisure/pleasure purposes on Irish Coastal waters. While taking to the sea untrained is strongly advised against, you’re not breaking the law. Obviously the rules for commercial vessels are different and far more stringent.
Do I need to wear a lifejacket?
Yes! This is the most basic safety precaution you can take. The legal position is that all craft must carry lifejackets for all those on board. If you’re on a boat under 7m you must wear this while the craft is underway. All those aged under 16 years must wear a lifejacket at all times on all pleasure craft.
Is there a minimum age to drive a powerboat?
Before we answer this we have to explain a few terms defined in the legislation.
- “pleasure craft” includes personal watercraft and fast power craft;
- “fast power craft” means a pleasure craft, other than a personal watercraft, the principal means of propulsion of which is derived from a mechanical power source and which attains or can attain a speed through or over water equal to or exceeding 17 knots.
- “open craft” means a pleasure craft which does not have a cabin or below deck facilities for the use of persons and where seating, or any place on the craft used for seating, is exposed or partially exposed to the elements.
- “decked craft” means a pleasure craft which is not an open craft;
Under 16’s may not operate any “fast power craft”. They are restricted to boats that are not capable to travelling at 17 knots or more. This includes Jet skis.
Under 12’s may not operate a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts.
The responsibility extends to the owner / master of the craft to ensure that these rules are adhered to.
Are there drive driving laws?
The rules don’t just extend to the driver. All those aboard have responsibility:
"A person on a pleasure craft shall not consume alcohol or drugs or any combination of drugs or of drugs and alcohol while on board the craft in circumstances which could affect the safety of persons or create a disturbance on board the craft or affect the safety of other persons using Irish waters or constitute a nuisance to such persons"
It is very strongly advised against to consume, or allow anyone to consume alcohol aboard a boat. Apart from the obvious dangers relating to controlling the craft, alcohol dramatically increases the risks of hypothermia.
There are many other rules in force, contained within the Maritime Safety Act 2005. To view the act, please click here.
Remember, all the above rules are basically a common sense approach to boating, something which we are incredibly lucky to have in Ireland. It will only remain this way if people act in a manner that reflects this common sense approach.
Our powerboat courses will equip you to operate a powerboat safely, with our final decision on whether we offer a certificate based on our assessment of whether you will be a safe boater.