Sailing and Boating in Buenos Aires

Information on sailing and boating in Buenos Aires with details about the different sailing permits and licences, and contact details for local sailing associations, sailing clubs and marinas...

Safety at Sea
General emergencies Buenos Aires City and ProvinceTel: 911
Emergency at sea (Prefectura Naval Argentina)Tel: 106 (toll free) / (011) 4576-7658

It is important to check weather reports before setting out to sail or practising any other water sports as weather conditions can change very rapidly.

The Argentinian Naval Prefecture (Prefectura Naval Argentina) is Argentina's security, safety and judicial police at sea and is responsible for protecting the country's rivers and maritime territory. It also intervenes in marine conservation, hunting and fishing at sea and in rivers.

Communications when Sailing

The frequencies that must be used are:

  • Medium (MF)
  • High (HF) - A1A, J3E
  • H3E
  • (VHF): F3E - for very high frequencies

The Argentine Communications Service for Navigation Safety (SECOSENA) requires that Spanish is used, but where language is a barrier, use International Code Signalling, the Q Code, and Standard International Marine Vocabulary.

The Argentine Traffic Control and Safety System (CONTRASE) controls maritime traffic to ensure safety and promote efficiency, and also the exchange of information between a coastal station and a boat. This service operates 24/7, and the same rules regarding language apply.

  • For further information about the rules and regulations for communications while sailing in Argentina: Click here (in Spanish)
Sailing and Boating Regulations

The most important regulations which apply to sports and leisure boats are:

  • A boat's name, number, port of registration and its draught of ship's marks must be specified
  • For boats with internal combustion engines, and which use petrol, there must be equipment on board to prevent fires
  • For further information about sailing and boating regulations: Click here (in Spanish)
Sailing Licences

There are a number of different sailing licences in Argentina.

Conductor náutico: The licence holder can pilot motor boats on rivers (within certain limits) and lakes. The boat's length should not exceed seven metres, and its maximum motor power should be 140 HP. To take the licence, a candidate must be older than 18 and pass the corresponding exam.

Grumete: This licence is for sailing boats on rivers, lakes and the Río de la Plata, within certain limits. Boats are limited to seven metres in length, and the licence holder can only sail during the day and when the climate is favourable.

Timonel Yate (Vela o Motor): To get the licence, a candidate must be older than 18 and pass the corresponding exam. They are then eligible to pilot boats with motors above 50 HP, and sail boats on all rivers, lakes and the Río de la Plata within limits fixed by the Prefectura Naval Argentina. The boat is limited to 20 metres in length.

Patrón de Yate: Before being eligible to take the Patrón de Yate licence, a candidate must:

  • Have a Timonel de Yate licence
  • Have more than 60 hours of sailing experience on yachts
  • In the last five years have done two round trips between ports in a Timonel or Patron area (the latter, as a crew member)
  • Pass the corresponding exams

Depending on where the exam takes place, the local authority may require that additional conditions are met. The licence holder can sail boats on all rivers, lakes, and at sea within a maximum limit of 12 nautical miles from the coast.

Piloto de Yate: To be granted a Piloto de Yate licence, a candidate must:

  • Have a Patrón de Yate licence
  • In the last five years have done a minimum of four navigations, two of which must have taken place at night and two during the day, in Patron de Yate areas
  • Pass the corresponding exams

Once the Piloto de Yate licence has been passed, the holder can sail any type of boat and sail without geographical limitations.

Sailing licences that were not obtained in Argentina can be transferred or enabled locally by writing to the Prefectura Naval Argentina and requesting their authorisation, together with a translation of the original licence, which must be authenticated by the home country's consulate in Argentina. The curriculum carried out for the exam and the Certificate of Approval must also be included.

Sailing Clubs and Courses

Licences and exams can be taken at clubs or specific training schools. The following clubs and schools in Buenos Aires can advise on sailing courses and some provide lessons.

Marinas in Buenos Aires

Berthing areas or marinas with berths are called Guarderías. North Buenos Aires has a large sailing community and there are a number of marinas and facilities for yachts and boats.