Houseboat Briefing

This information briefly addresses some important points for customers/Captains on a houseboat briefing prior to departure. Naturally each houseboat hirer company offers slightly different circumstances and briefings.

Before your arrive

Check out the houseboat operators website to orientate yourself about the houseboat your hiring.

On the day

Safety is paramount and the briefing for the houseboat should take approximately 1 hour. Ensure in your group a person is identify as the contact person/nominated driver for the group. This is the person accepting overall responsibility for the vessel and everyone onboard.

A ‘workshop manual’ for the vessel with photos of equipment and details of procedures should be onboard. You’re encouraged to ask questions as the briefing moves through the manual.

The manual is that a copy that is kept on the vessel. If there is a problem, the hirer can call the base and explain. Checking that the hirer has an understanding of the contents of the briefing is important. You are taking a valuable piece of property away and you need to know how to look after it.

You may be asked questions to test your knowledge eg. “OK, what would you do if there was a fire by the BBQ?”; “What if someone falls ill and needs medical attention?”; “What do you do if the toilet gets blocked?” As managing a houseboat has many facets its important to listen to the briefing.

A document signed by the hirer to say that they’ve understood the briefing is required. The hirer may be a returning customer who has a good understanding of the vessel. Or they may have maritime experience and be familiar with regulations, operations and procedures. This could reduce the time taken in a briefing.

What happens in the briefing?

The following points cover some of the information required by customers to enable them to safely operate the vessel. They are in no particular order.

  1. Who is the Nominated Driver / How many people are onboard?
  2. Explanation of the vessel’s controls
  3. Location of emergency equipment. What it’s for and how to use it?
  4. What to do if there is an emergency?
  5. Vessel’s equipment and how to use it. For example, galley / toilets / BBQ / spa
  6. The vessel’s manual. One on the boat / one ashore. Lots of pictures. Calling base with a problem and referring to the manual
  7. Keeping in touch with base. When and how. Mobile? Radio?
  8. What to do in a medical emergency. Knowing where you are. Markers. Landmarks. Ambulance access points
  9. Where the boat can and can’t go
  10. Basic rules of the road (including practical session)
  11. Tying up and letting go
  12. No night-time running
  13. Hazards on the water
  14. The risks associated with alcohol and drugs, particularly when in command
  15. Children should be supervised at all times.
  16. Rules about swimming from the vessel. Dangers involved especially with children / those who are not strong swimmers
  17. If there is a dingy with the houseboat, customers should be shown how to operate it and told of the requirement to wear lifejackets
  18. How to report damage and hazards

The main goal of the briefing is to ensure both you, your houseboating group, the houseboat and other river users are safe. Things can go wrong; however if you’re briefed and prepared you can respond appropriately in any situation.

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