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Watercraft and pleasure boat licences

Information for watercraft users and how to obtain a licence for a pleasure boat.


From April to October in the Bournemouth and Poole area, you’ll see yellow marker buoys across the bay, 200 metres away from the low water mark.

Watercraft in this area cannot:

  • go beyond 6 knots
  • annoy or endanger other beach users
  • run ashore or launch from the beach.

Powered watercrafts must have engine silencers fitted.

The area by Boscombe Artificial Reef, marked with yellow buoys, has a 6-knot speed limit all year.

Pleasure boat licences

You must have a licence to hire pleasure boats to the public or operate a passenger-carrying boat.

A licence is required for sailboards, rowing boats, canoes, motorboats, pedalos and larger boats or ferries carrying fewer than 12 passengers.

To operate in Christchurch Harbour applications must be accompanied by a current Certificate/Report of Suitability by a qualified Boat Surveyor.

To operate in Poole Harbour application forms must be endorsed by an Authorised Boat Inspector.

You can download an application form on our pleasure boat licence page.

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