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Information for Small Passenger and Hire Boats

A variety of small passenger boats operate in Dart Harbour and a license is required.  The license is issued by South Hams District Council (Salcombe Harbour Office) for up to 12 passengers, for which Dart Harbour acts on their behalf as an appointed surveyor.

To obtain a license for a vessel up to 12 passengers, please contact the Salcombe Harbour Office in the first instance will arrange a test for both the operator (Boatman’s Licence) and a vessel safety inspection.  This is conducted by Dart Harbour, who will carry out the relevant checks.

Hull condition, mandatory safety equipment, and other various safety-related conditions will apply to each vessel, under the guidance of the Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code

For any new applications for passenger boats, the stability requirements as described in the MCA approved Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code must be met.

A Local Boatmans License is also a mandatory requirement for operators of these vessels and relevant RYA/MCA certificates will be taken into account as supporting qualifications.

N.B. New operators should also consider the logistics associated with running a boat-based commercial business. These include;

  • Mooring availability
  • Passenger embarkation and debarkation
  • Provisioning the vessel
  • Cleaning and maintenance

Hire Boats

Hire Boats are licensed and operators need to apply to South Hams District Council, who will be able to advise further on the requirements and the applications process. Operators need to provide the appropriate safety paperwork.  Vessels will need to comply with the recreational craft directive and meet the requirements as set in the MCA approved Hire Boat Code.

SUP & Canoe Operators

Guided tours and trips:

Guided tours and trips require the operator to hold a hold a valid Local Boatmans License as well as the relevant approved instructional qualifications with the appropriate level of insurance. The craft will also need individual inspections.

Board or kayak self hire:

For self hire, an operators licence is required, this includes having the correct safety systems in place including risk assessments, insurance and other documentation. The craft will also need individual inspections. A safety boat and its inspection is also part of the licensing conditions for self hire.


Please contact the harbour office for further advice or further information on any of the above licensing arrangements.

Licenses will be issued on a case by case basis. Dart Harbour reserves the right to cancel, suspend or withdraw any SHDC licenses and applications as appropriate, conduct random spot checks or ask for additional information as required by them.