Boating Basics . . .

Australia renowned for its magnificent coastline, stunning inlets, bays, rivers, and lakes.  Water sports form an integral part of the Australian way of life.

The following are some basic tips to help make your boating adventure, whether it be for an afternoon or a trip of many months, a safe and fun experience:

Before setting out on your voyage

Tick  Check that the vessel is seaworthy and properly maintained.  Check the engine, sails, fuel level, etc. as applicable, check that the batteries are fully charged, and, that all the appropriate safety equipment is on board

Tick  Check the marine weather before departing – for potential storms, wind speeds and wave heights – all should be considered

Tick  Make sure you inform others of your voyage – including location and duration

Tick  Make sure you are carrying the appropriate Marine licence when on board the vessel

Basic safe operation of vessel

Tick  Obey the water signage – 5 Knots maximum speed (9.26 km/h) when within 50 metres of fixed or floating structures and swimmers, plus within 100 metres of a diver or diver’s flag. This speed limit also applies when within 50 metres of the waters edge when inland, and, 200 metres when coastal

Boat Diagram b

Tick  The passage of traffic on the waterways is opposite to the Australian road rules. Boats must be on the right side of the river, canal, channel, etc., and when two power boats approach head on, both vessels must alter course to starboard  – so that they pass port-side to port-side of each other

Tick  Always be on full alert when operating the vessel and make sure you are travelling at a safe speed

Tick  Always be on the lookout for obstacles e.g. sand banks, rocky reefs, floating logs, tree stumps, etc. – dangerous looking ripples or dramatic changes in the look of the water surface, can indicate an obstacle below or a dangerous current, etc.

Tick  Alcohol and water vessels don’t mix. You must be at a blood alcohol level 0.00 whilst on your probationary licence (drivers licence) and read less than 0.05 on a full licence (make sure you do further research as this can vary between the different states of Australia)

Tick  When operating a boat around shipping traffic areas, one must approach it with caution and stay well clear of a ship when they are in motion

Tick  When anchoring your boat, you should have the anchor at a length of at least 3 times the depth of the water –  just in case of rough seas

When in an emergency

Tick  Everyone aboard the vessel should wear a PFD (personal flotation device)

Tick  Contact someone of your emergency via:

– Marine Radio 27MHz -Ch88  or  VHF – Ch16

– Phone 000

– use a Flare when another vessel is in sight

– or a EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon)

Tick  Make sure you stay with your boat, as it can be easier for searchers to spot

Minimum safety equipment that should be on board the vessel

Tick  A pair of oars / paddles

Tick  A PFD for everyone on board

Tick  Bailer

Other necessary safety equipment (depending on your situation)

Tick  Water proof buoyant torch

Tick  Flares

Tick  Registered EPIRB

Tick  Compass


Disclaimer:  This is just some information on some of the basic rules and regulations of boating.  As the laws may be forever changing and vary in each state of Australia, the information shown above may outdated and / or irrelevant to you in your situation. We recommend further research on your state’s marine laws and safety regulations.


For more ‘Travel Aus’ – ‘Tips & Tricks’ – click here

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