Rijkswaterstaat urges recreational skippers to comply with sailing etiquette

With the sun high in the sky and a thriving leisure boating sector, Rijkswaterstaat has called for increased awareness of boating etiquette. Inappropriate behavior on the waters, such as forcing ahead at locks and not giving space to other vessels, is a growing problem, according to recent data.

Experience research

The Recreational Shipping Experience Survey of Rijkswaterstaat and the provinces, which was published earlier this year, showed that many skippers are disturbed by the behavior of other skippers. Half of the recreational boaters surveyed were dissatisfied with the actions of their colleagues on the water.

Lack of knowledge

Lack of knowledge of the rules seems to be a significant factor in this problem, as no license is required to operate a vessel up to 15 meters or a vessel not exceeding 20 kilometers per hour. “There is mainly clumsiness, and in some cases even dangerous behavior,” noted a tour boat skipper.

The number of recreational craft in the Netherlands has risen to approximately 400,000, emphasizing the popularity of boating as a recreational activity. According to figures from the CBR, which conducts exams for sailing licenses, 40,000 people obtained their sailing license last year, an increase compared to 25,000 in 2015.

However, it is not just about lack of knowledge. According to local sources in Lemmer, the ‘bewilderment’ leads to increasing frustration. A skipper commented: “There are people who simply push ahead at a lock, which leads to arguments and sometimes even violence.”

Rijkswaterstaat acknowledges that some incidents stem from deliberate misconduct. In response to this, the body has announced that this sailing season will pay extra attention to compliance with the written and unwritten rules on the water.

Stricter enforcement

Although many pleasure craft support the call for stricter enforcement, Rijkswaterstaat emphasizes that enforcement is already taking place, but that their patrol boats cannot be everywhere at once. Rijkswaterstaat’s advice to pleasure boaters is clear: “Respect the sailing etiquette. Be considerate of each other.”

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