View Full Version : Drink boating

12th Oct 2008, 18:03
Well, not a flying subject, but my excuse is that this topic embraces two pursuits dear to the hearts of many PPRuners!

It's been a few yonks since Mrs. Km & I ventured forth on Messrs Blakes' finest, the Broads and canals of England to explore. And whilst not the sole object of my enjoyment, I loved having a beer or five to accompany our journey; it didn't matter that I was also the one at the controls. :)

Fast forward a few years and we're looking at the prospect again, but we've heard somewhere that there are new drink-boating laws i.e. you can't be intoxicated in charge of a hire boat. Oh dear! :{ Can it be true??

Gertrude the Wombat
12th Oct 2008, 18:17
Yeah, I heard that too.

It's obvious bollocks. The entire point of a narrow boat holiday is that you can't get lost driving from the lunchtime pub to the evening pub - worst that can happen is you bang into a lock gate.

And ... a thirty ton steel narrow boat at 4mph can open lock gates against six inches of water :) - I know, I've done it. (But it does spill the tea, so worth yelling to your crew that a serious collision is imminent.)

12th Oct 2008, 18:36
I cannot comment specifically on England's rivers and estuaries. However, I recall a kerfuffle a few years ago which tightened the regulations around the Solent.

In Australia, FWIW, if you are running a stinkboat, the limit is the same as for a car - a miserly 0.05%. You'd be hard pressed to find any yachtie who can't blow twice that.

As skipper, it is your responsibility to maintain a good lookout, to obey the rules of the road and keep things shipshape. If something happens and you are found to have been drinking (even if it's just been a nudge), things will not augur well for you.

Whatever the law says, if you feel that your consumption might compromise the safety of others, you have to abstain.


12th Oct 2008, 18:57
By coincidence the local West Country news reports today that the RNLI have had to launch to save sailors in two different incidents off the south coast due to loss of control and in one case capsize. Both crews had been drinking.

Last year a local was killed in the Carrick Roads near St Mawes when a speedboat ran over his dory, the skipper and crew were returning from a wedding and yes you've guessed it they were .... p"ssed.

Just today I was sailing in the same area and saw a guy in a small boat singing his little head off, swigging from a bottle and completely oblivious of what was going on around him. Totally idiotic.

I can't speak for the narrow boat brigade but as a leisure yachtsman that takes safety very seriously people that drink to excess and then get in a boat are as moronic as those that do it on the road.

12th Oct 2008, 19:09
Rum, sodomy and the lash is sooooo 17th century.

BAMRA wake up
12th Oct 2008, 19:18
I can recall half a dozen acquaintances who have fallen between ship and quay - all drunk, all now dead. If you must do it, board with someone sober, or more sober, and hand over command to a non drinker.

One recalls a skipper who was keen on his mugs of 'coffee', I picked up the wrong mug off the chart table one day, sipped and the penny dropped. Popped his 'Irish coffee' mug back down and never said a word.

12th Oct 2008, 19:21
Over here the same alcohol limits on drinking are the same for boating, all forms, as it is on public roadways.

A guy was arrested the other day in a canoe for operating a 'water vehicle' while under the influence.

12th Oct 2008, 19:28
In Blighty they threatened to review the law after a boat crashed last year at Cowes, but it hasn't got further than that and as long as people stay sensible it won't.

So, hope you enjoy the Broads and a long G&T or 3.

Loose rivets
12th Oct 2008, 19:39
- worst that can happen is you bang into a lock gate.

Oooooooooh no. One of my, now many, dear departed friends, made his divorce more painless by long-boating from pub to pub. The sound of the splash he made was the last thing he heard.

Another friend went between the side of a substantial boat and the key side. While sober! Pretended not to know him.:hmm:

Blimy! Just remembered another one. Not close, but a good drinking pal. He went into the Walton Marina into cold water. The scotch that he'd consumed didn't keep him warm. They found him next morning.

12th Oct 2008, 19:54
Perhaps I should have explained the scope of my query a little clearer: I refer only to the mild, beautiful, inland waterways of Britain, where (as stated above) a 4 mph speed limit is the norm (as is an indeterminate state of inebreation).

It goes without saying that the onus for safety goes with the driver and although there has been the odd accident, incidences of these have been extremely rare over the last 50 years or so; and it seems to be the case that recreational boating in the UK generally attracts an owner/hirer who is responsible and aware.

12th Oct 2008, 20:00
Also, the hire boat engines are usually rigged to be incapable of exceeding the speed limit.

Don't do as some do and tie up tight to the mooring (or an overhead bridge!) at high tide - it gets more than interesting as the level drops.

12th Oct 2008, 20:06
Boat users face new 'drink-sail' rules (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus) (http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/1480083.boat_users_face_new_drinksail_rules/)

12th Oct 2008, 22:21
Sir Francis Chichester used to do a lot of his flying three sheets. It's not for everyone - he was one of a kind.

After a couple of incidents when I was starting out, my rule was for no drinking until we passed the (Sydney Harbour) bridge, westbound. The captain's whisky was uncorked upon approaching Hunters Hill ( a mile from home).

If you always have a Plan B (and if you do not, make one) you can do what you please as long as you don't break the law.


12th Oct 2008, 22:33
Sir Francis Chichester used to do a lot of his flying three sheets.

Sailing's one thing, but flying!!

12th Oct 2008, 23:12
Yes, read his memoirs. Fascinating stuff.

Parts of his epic journey (flying, not sailing) were done with the aid of brandy.

O tempora, o mores!


13th Oct 2008, 01:49
In my neck of the woods , not only can you get done for drunk in charge of a boat , but they can also take your driving licence from you.

One of the many reasons I've never gotten a driving licence!

The rules about having alcohol on board are weird as well. You can only carry alcohol if your boat is equipped with a head and a galley. You can only drink it if moored or at anchor.

Cue , throwing anchor over , "gosh officer I never realised we were dragging anchor"

Still what do you expect from a province where the government has a virtual monopoly on selling alcohol.

tony draper
13th Oct 2008, 07:47
There was a old saying out on the blue water,"A drunken arse carries no anchor lights"
I dunno what it means either.:uhoh:

13th Oct 2008, 08:10
Sir Francis Chichester used to do a lot of his flying three sheets.

As did a lot of WW2 pilots according to the doctor who did my commercial licence medicals for a number of years. He was ex-RAF Hurricane pilot in the North African theatre then Mosquito night-fighter pilot over the Balkans in the latter part of the war.

But as to boating, I used to crew on a Dragon class yacht a few years ago and it was common for many yachties to pack a 6-pack or so for the race. As soon as we rounded the windward mark and had the spinnaker up you could hear the rip-tops being pulled.:ooh: Being a pompous sort of chap I never indulged but perhaps that had more to do with being the foredeck crew and there's nothing like having to jibe a spinnaker pole over on a narrow bow in a pitching sea to make one value your sense of balance. Especially in the days pre-buoyancy vests being required.:eek:

13th Oct 2008, 08:17
Sir Francis Chichester used to do a lot of his flying three sheets.

Chuck Yeager admits taking his P-51 up on an early morning mission still sozzled from the late night knees up the night before.

Hung over - still drunk - handling a monster of a Mustang - how did he survive?

13th Oct 2008, 10:40
"Also, the hire boat engines are usually rigged to be incapable of exceeding the speed limit."

So what happens when you're going downhill doesn't the thing run away with you?;) Hic!

Too Short
13th Oct 2008, 18:23
You can only drink it if moored or at anchor.

Interesting. I presume from this that situations where the boat is not underway or making way (i.e. attached to the land, as per IRPCS) you are permitted to drink? Ok, if your anchor starts to drag, your boat is then technically underway. So if you've started drinking when it was ok to do so, with the boat at anchor, you are suddenly breaking the law once it starts to drag! Added to that, the only real option is often to move the boat to somewhere else where it will stay attached to the sea bed, then you would also be breaking the law for sailing/motoring to somewhere in order to safeguard the vessel!

This is an aspect I find quite concerning if a zero tolerance attitude to drink-sailing is taken over here (I have heard rumours of such). In such a situation, I would hope that the authority concerned will exercise common sense and accept that it was a necessity to move the boat. That said, zero tolerance is zero tolerance so presumably that would include such a situation. :hmm:

I'm not saying it's ok to sail rat-arsed because it isn't but this anchor dragging scenario is not an unlikely occurance and I'm talking about one or two glasses of wine (I know of people this has happened to, even in an anchorage indicated on the chart!). Therefore, surely an allowed blood alcohol limit would be a better answer to a zero tolerance policy.

One answer to this possible event (where there is more than one person on board who can move the boat) is for someone, who can handle the boat, not to drink alcohol whilst ever at anchor. I do not have a problem with doing that myself (and most certainly within a professional capacity). However, I do feel for those who wish to go sailing, you know, a couple enjoying a glass of wine as they watch the sun set, finding themselves in trouble just for moving their boat to the next anchorage or nearest marina (ok, this could be some distance, but the one or two glasses of wine or couple of beers I'm talking about are surely not going to render someone incapable of sailing).

If drink-sailing laws do arrive, lets just hope there's a permitted blood alcohol limit, as for driving, rather than a zero tolerance policy.

As someone else has briefly mentioned, it seems that more people die drunk getting in and out of tenders and falling into marinas getting on and off boats than sailing under the influence. IMHO introducing a zero tolerance policy would be using a sledgehammer to crack a :mad:ing nut!

13th Oct 2008, 19:01
Chuck Yeager admits taking his P-51 up on an early morning mission still sozzled from the late night knees up the night before.Of course there are degrees of intoxication, but there has to be a difference between driving a boat (and a slow one at that) and flying an aircraft.
Even driving a car can be limited to a slow-speed 'crawl', but when flying, there is a minimum degree of speed (and therefore control) required to keeping the thing up (and travelling in a reasonable direction) - not to mention the skill required to effect a landing (one where the machine is usable again).
Boats float and therefore operate only in two dimensions rather than three (or is it four for aircraft because of the influence of time). Driving a car whilst under the influence (whilst undesirable) you can always stop (an option not really available to pilots, though using an autopilot is an option not available to car drivers AFAIK).
IMO there is intoxicated, under the influence, drunk and incapable (though I'm not certain of the relative position of the first two). In Denmark, the definition of 'drunk' is referred-to as being 'full', implying that no further capacity for alcohol is possible. I don't believe that we are considering that here, merely the difference between no alcohol and 'having taken drink'.
Furthermore, I don't imagine that the question of alcohol content of boat-steerers would be considered unless there was some incident (though the same is true of car drivers). Is it always obvious who is at the helm of a boat?
As far as cars are concerned, mere possession of the keys whilst sitting in the vehicle (and not necessarily behind the steering wheel), can be enough to convict an intoxicated driver (though the presence of another person capable of driving the car legally can negate this I suppose). I don't believe that boats are as specific WRT being the driver (though there may be liabilities as the person 'in charge' - ie the name on the hiring documents - that might implicate that person even though they are not technically 'driving' at the time).
Methinks the water is murky . . .

13th Oct 2008, 20:57
G-CPTN - interesting post, I wonder if since a boat can also sink that would make it three dimensional? You raise a good question about who is actually at the helm since in most yachts handing over the tiller or wheel would be almost undetectable to an observer from any significantdistance though not as easy to hide for someome sitting at the wheel of a speedboat of course.

In the meantime I shall continue to have a little nip in the coffee from time to time, a glass or two of wine in the evening and put out plenty of anchor cable!

I guess at the end of the day its all about common sense.....

Gertrude the Wombat
13th Oct 2008, 22:04
I can't speak for the narrow boat brigade but as a leisure yachtsman that takes safety very seriously people that drink to excess and then get in a boat are as moronic as those that do it on the road.
On a narrow boat there's no weather and you can't get lost. About the worst you can do is run down a punt in the middle of Oxford, and you'll get away with it because the punter will be drunk and playing chicken anyway (or will have been by the time your lawyer has finished with him).

Yachts are a little bit different. No way am I going to be drunk out at sea!

13th Oct 2008, 22:27
On a narrow boat . . . you can't get lost. The River Trent has sections with 'branches' that lead you into places that aren't the right places . . .

14th Oct 2008, 07:57
Had a narrow boat for many years. Excellent relaxation and first class inter - pub transport with no need to drive home coz you've brought your hotac with you. Worst drinking injuries I sustained were whilst operating locks (once falling off one and landing on the roof of my boat).

Narrow boats are pretty safe. Locks are bloody dangerous places to be around. If you fall in whilst the lock is filling/emptying you won't be able to swim against the water flow.

14th Oct 2008, 08:00
Am I just slow on the uptake or has anyone else noticed the advertising banners below this thread? 'Hoseasons boating holidays' and 'Drink Driver Insurance' :E

14th Oct 2008, 09:04
Hmm have to confess that the only times I've dinged my 40ft yacht mooring up in HK is when I'm sober.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Only one drink each for self and the crew though at sundowners if offshore.

8 hrs min throttle to bottle if flying. More if doing aeros.

None if riding a motorcycle.

I don;t own a car and travel by taxi everywhere so no restrictions - psst "got room for a case of beer and a pizza"

14th Oct 2008, 20:53
I remember Sir Francis being asked why he was taking a large keg of Whitbread and a case of Scotch on his round the world solo sail. "Well any fool can sail round the world sober" was his reply.

As we know a good sailor knows how much is enough on a good day and how much is too much when a storm approaches. That is a part of seamanship.

The wimps who make the rules cannot take their drink, I suppose. Sad to see the fun police taking over pleasure craft.