In the UK we need absolutely nothing before going to sea-leisure boats do not have to be registered;there is no leglislation regarding safety equipment to be carried; and no licencing or training is required for any captain or crew member.
Most people are sensible but once in a while!
Recently someone bought a 20 foot river/estuary cruiser on the south side of the River Thames estuary. He decided to sail it around to Southhampton on the south coast of the UK.
Armed with a road Atlas he sensibly decided that if he kept turning to the right and kept the land to his right he would travel down the east coast of the UK and westwards along the south coast until he reached his destination.
He was unaware of the various islands along the south shore of the Thames estuary running aground and out of fuel after having ended almost circumnavigating one of the islands.
He called for help on his cell phone which set off a full SAR operation including a SAR helicopter.When found he asked the way to the nearest gas station-he could not work out why he could travel to Southhampton down the Motorway on 10 gallons of fuel yet he had used this up whilst going around the Island-he had expected to get to his destination on the 10 gallons of fuel.
Nothing could be done to stop this individual trying again!
One word of warning-I recently heard that emergency beacons-particularly personal beacons- are so often going off by mistake that unless you clearly log with local SAR just where you are likely to be your beacon might be ignored.