Originally Posted by Kalata01
Hey there, I was looking to purchase an inflatable dinghy for my kids who are 16 to be able to go on the river and chill.
They would be using oars and not really going anywhere far, just staying in a small area.
My question is would i still need some kind of boat insurance for them? Also what equipment legally would they be obliged to have on the dinghy?
Under English law, there is no direct legal obligation to carry any particular equipment on a small dinghy, and there is no direct legal obligation to have insurance.
If you are going to use it on a navigable river, canal, reservoir, or some natural lakes, there are local licensing requirements.
For example, if you take a boat on the Trent, Soar, and related rivers in the East Midlands, they are managed by the Canal and River Trust. If you go on Rutland Water, it is owned and managed by Anglian Water. If you go on the Norfolk Broads, they are managed by the Broads Authority.
In each case, when you apply for a licence, they will ask you to provide details of your insurance. No insurance, no licence.
For a small rowing boat, used sensibly, the requirement to have a licence is seldom enforced. However, if you are caught misbehaving, or try to use a lock, or you are just plain unlucky, you will be asked for a licence and, if you have none, they can confiscate your boat.
I can only say that in 40 years of using the local rivers and canals for kayaking, inflatable boating and sailing, I have never been asked to produce my licence except when launching at a chargeable private slipway, or going through a manned lock.
As for equipment: boating is safe if done safely, and dangerous if not. You should take buoyancy aids, pump, sun cream, windproof spare clothing, towels in a dry bag, drinking water, snacks, and a length of rope for mooring.
Ideally you should have a small anchor, especially on a river or if it's windy. If something goes wrong, dropping the anchor keeps the boat in more or less the same place while you sort it out. It is also relaxing to anchor the boat to take a break from rowing, to have a picnic, or to swim.
An "inflatable dinghy" is a fairly serious piece of kit. Even a small "inflatable dinghy" (2.5 metres) will be quite robust and stable.
An inflatable dinghy is a different thing from those "rubber dinghies" or "inflatables" that you see at seaside gift shops. They are toys and can be quite dangerous on open water, and can easily split.
Even the best inflatable dinghy can be an interesting challenge to row, especially on a windy day. They do not track and glide like a conventional wooden rowing boat.
If I wanted an inflatable of suitable quality for a couple of teenage lads, I might consider an inflatable kayak. A good quality one is capable of covering serious distances (a few miles) at a reasonable speed so the boys can do some exploring. Another good option, although more expensive, is inflatable stand up paddle boards: potential for much hilarity, but also potential for some proper exploring.