COMPLAINTS: Marine Police say a disproportionate number of complaints are received about the operation of Jet Skis and the blocking of public docks.
Credit: Overseas AFP photo
COMPLAINTS: Marine Police say a disproportionate number of complaints are received about the operation of Jet Skis and the blocking of public docks. Credit: Overseas AFP photo

Boating during the summer months can be lots of fun, but with that comes responsibility.

As activities in and around the waters of Bermuda increase, the public are reminded of the need to obey all laws governing safety.

No wake zone

The Bermuda Police Service (BPS) Marine Unit will be enforcing laws that govern the safe operation of all marine vessels on the waters. This includes the enforcement of the five knot/no wake zone in and around the shores of Bermuda.

Boat operators are reminded that this law must be obeyed at all times to avoid accidents with swimmers and damage to property.

Boat operators are also responsible for their wake and so should exercise good judgment when underway around docks and fuel stations, even if not in a five knot/no wake zone.


There are requirements for vessels to carry safety equipment when operating inshore, and additional safety equipment required when operating offshore.

Members of the public can obtain a pamphlet with this information by visiting the Bermuda Police Service Marine Unit office, or alternatively from the Water Safety Council website at and clicking on ‘resources’.

Any vessel operator upon inspection by the Marine Police found not to be carrying the appropriate safety equipment can expect to be reported for the offence. Police will exercise their authority to order an operator to return the vessel to its dock or moorings. Failing to comply with this order is also a reportable offence.

Operators of marine vessels are reminded that there are laws against operating whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit is under 100mg (milligrams) of alcohol in 100ml (millilitres) of blood.

Jet Skis

Throughout the summer months, a disproportionate number of complaints are received about the operation of Jet Skis and the blocking of public docks. 

The power and speed of some of the more modern jet skis require that are operated responsibly and safely, or it is likely serious injury will be suffered by the driver, as well as other water users.


Public docks are for loading and unloading only. Vessels should not be left tied to a public dock, and the operator should never leave their vessel unattended.

A reportable offence is committed by any person who fails to obey this law. 

The Marine Police Unit will be coordinating the enforcement of safe Jet Ski operation and public dock access with land-based police units.


The majority of marine accidents happen at night-time. Operating a marine vessel at night should only be undertaken by experienced boat operators.

There are various water hazards to be considered, including reefs, fixed buoys, islands and floating debris.

Running lights (green-starboard/red-port and white stern) are required. It is critically important that marine vessels are not run at speed at night and that anyone who is operating a marine vessel has the skill and local navigational awareness to do so.


All marine vessels must be registered with the Department of Marine and Ports. Officers in the Marine Police Unit have started to inspect vessel registrations and are reporting operators of unregistered vessels.

The penalty for failing to register a vessel includes an appearance in the Hamilton Magistrates’ Court, and a fine is likely.

Power boats

The Bermuda Power Boat Association has a number of races organized throughout the summer.

Notice of the courses being raced is published ahead of the race in the print media.

These vessels travel very fast, and whilst the drivers are experienced and skilled, they must manage both the speed they are travelling together with the conditions of the waters. Whilst power boat racing offers excitement to spectators, the operators of vessels not participating in the races are required to ensure that they are positioned in a safe place to watch.

Vessels that are underway in the area of a race route need to ensure they will not cause wake that can be dangerous to operators of the racing boats.

You are also asked to take heed of any warning or direction given by any race marshal. Failure to do so will result in race marshals calling upon the Marine Police Unit to assist if required.

The Bermuda Police Service once again reminds the public that the Marine Police Unit is no longer located at the Barr’s Bay office. The Unit is temporarily located at the Police COMOPS building in Prospect, Devonshire, ahead of a permanent move to new offices in Dockyard at the start of August.

However, Marine Police launches will continue to operate from Barr’s Bay. There will be no disruption to calls for services or general police patrols of the waterways in and around Bermuda as a result of the office move.

Any Marine Police Unit inquiries can continue to be made on 247-1770.  

The Bermuda Police Service wishes all a safe and enjoyable summer on the waters. n   


Inspector Robert Cardwell is the Officer in Charge of the Marine and Roads Policing Units. To contact the Marine Police, call 247-1770. If you want to report an incident, you can also contact Bermuda Radio on 297-1010. To contact Department of Marine & Ports Services, call 295-6575 or 294-4453.